An essential element in soloing for all guitarists—especially metal players—is the use of legato techniques. The term legato is defined as “smooth and connected,” and a legato sound is generally achieved on the guitar through the incorporation of hammer-ons, pull-offs and finger slides.
Jerry Garcia is best known as the lead guitar player and primary singer/songwriter of the Grateful Dead. Though they are regarded as pioneers of the “jam band” genre that rose to prominence in the late Sixties, the Grateful Dead, unlike many of their counterculture contemporaries, never faltered with the changing times.
The origin of guitar distortion goes back to the earliest electrified blues guitarists. They didn’t care that their primitive tube amps were breaking up and distorting, as long as they were loud. Soon, blues guitarists grew quite fond of those nasty, gnarly distorted tones, and they sought to replicate them by any means necessary.
When Howe joined Yes in 1970, his classical influences, jazz-tinged electric guitar lines and general “experimental” musical nature had a profound impact on the band’s art-rock sound, resulting in a string of classic Seventies-era progressive rock records like The Yes Album, Fragile and Close to the Edge.
I’ve always used the Les Paul and Gretsch White Falcon, and they’re both heavily featured on the new album. Regarding the second part, that’s a very pragmatic question. One thing I’ve done with the White Falcon is put things in the body — little bits of T-shirts or whatever — to help stop some of the feedback.
For me, some of the best metal songs, like many of the classic tracks on Metallica’s Master of Puppets or Megadeth’s Rust in Peace, have these qualities. The majority of the riff is played in even eighth notes, and I stick with alternate (down-up) picking throughout.
“Bad Asteroid” is a song that’s been bubbling away in my collection of unused tunes for about 18 or 19 years, and this new album gave me a good excuse to finally record it properly. In addition to requiring wacky and unusual tapping procedures, it features some nice harmonic interest in the chord progression over which the riff is played—what I like to describe as the “budget Steely Dan” chords.
I maintain it’s my absolute prerogative to wear whatever hairstyle goes with my guitar at any point in my life. It amazes me when people make a big deal about people changing their hair. Surely that’s one of the bonuses of being in a band. When I was a kid, David Bowie was big, so that’s where it started for me.