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Betcha Can't Play This: Symphony X Guitarist Michael Romeo Conjures "Beethoven on Speed"

Betcha Can't Play This: Symphony X Guitarist Michael Romeo Conjures

I developed this classically flavored eight-bar etude to create something that was technically challenging and could be applied to other melodic ideas simply by experimenting and moving notes around.

The run is built around a progression of sequenced major, minor and diminished-seventh arpeggios performed exclusively with two-hand tapping.

As you’ll discover, it has some cool ascending and descending patterns and a jagged melodic contour that includes wide intervals and frequent changes in direction. Also, notice the use of string skipping and varied rhythms throughout.

As there is no picking involved, each note has to be either tapped with the right hand, hammered onto with the fretting hand or pulled off from a higher note on the same string.

Notice that many of the notes are hammered onto with the fretting hand while the string is silent—"from out of nowhere," as Eddie Van Halen would say. The objective is to make every note sound distinct and at a consistent volume. Make each hammer-on and tap quick and firm to generate sufficient volume.

When pulling off with either hand, pull the string slightly downward, toward the floor, before lifting the finger off of it. Doing so will keep the string vibrating enough so that the pulled-off notes don’t "die." Using a heavily distorted tone and some compression will help even out the note attack.

Good luck, and have fun.

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