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“This first lick [FIGURE 1] is an arpeggio etude [musical-sounding exercise] in A minor that integrates tapping, multiple hammer-on and pull-off combinations and a little bit of economy picking into a steady stream of 16th notes. It pretty much stays within the realm of the A minor pentatonic scale [A C D E G], with the flatted fifth, Eb, added in the last two bars.
Last month, we dissected the first six bars of the guitar solo section in the title track of Nevermore’s latest release, The Obsidian Conspiracy. Let’s pick up where we left off and take a detailed look at the rhythm and lead parts I play over bars 7–10 of the solo section.
A lot of people come up to me and say, “Satchel, you rock! You know all 28 frets of your guitar, man!” And I say, dude, are you stupid? My guitar only has 24 frets…or something. I don’t remember how many frets my guitar has. But the point is that I know how to get up and down my neck, and how do I know that? I know all the scales and all the arpeggios, and all of the positions of all of the modes, in all of the keys.
Let’s continue with a topic that I addressed in last month’s column: focusing on the formation of specific scalar patterns, or “shapes,” and how to connect them while traversing the fretboard. To me, this concept and approach offer a sensible way to practice these ideas/patterns in order to build up one’s chops while also increasing overall fretboard awareness and mastery of scales.
I start with a C power chord as a pickup to the first bar. Sometimes I like to include another fifth below the chord itself. This brings out overtones that give the illusion of a lower root note, especially when you’re using heavy distortion. Even though the tempo marking is shown as "Freely," the lick is meant to be played as fast as you can.
I’d like to start off by demonstrating some of the licks I play in the song “Invidious," from our latest, self-titled release. Some of the melodic phrases in the tune are performed using hybrid picking, a technique sometimes referred to as “chicken pickin’,” wherein I combine standard flatpicking with fingerpicking.
Here's a fast run up the fretboard that I call "the Dominizer" because it’s based on a dominant seven arpeggio, specifically, A7 [A C# E G]. In the first two bars, I play the arpeggio classical-style through several inversions on the top three strings, four notes up, then four notes down, with a quick position shift every two beats.