You don’t just have to practice when there’s a guitar in your hands. There’s plenty of time in the day being wasted that you can use to improve your playing. Whenever you have a spare few seconds to daydream or are zoning out in class or at a meeting or waiting in line at the DMV, etc., use the time to go inside your mind’s eye and ears and visualize yourself perfectly executing the lick, riff or song you’ve been working on.
I’m talking about the unmistakable signature graphics on the guitars of “Mr. Scary," A.K.A. George Lynch. But the graphics are not nearly as recognizable as Lynch’s frighteningly unique phrasing, tone and vibrato. Since the early 1980s, soulful shred Sensei George Lynch has challenged the boundaries of his abilities, constantly evolved with the times and kept his playing fresh.
Van Halen’s impact on Dimebag’s playing is unmistakable. The “vibe” of early Van Halen is by far the most recognizable influence in Dimebag’s playing. From the grooving rhythms played like leads of their own, to the tone, to the phrasing in his lead playing, Dimebag took the inspiration of Edward Van Halen and forged his own identity.
Of the myriad contributions Jimi Hendrix has made to the lexicon of modern guitar, one of the most enduring is the legendary “Hendrix chord." The chord, an E7#9, was definitely nothing new when Hendrix famously used it in “Purple Haze” (Jazz and R&B guitarists used it extensively, and the Beatles featured it years earlier on “Taxman”), but its use by Jimi inspired its use by generations of guitarists in a wide range of styles.
Spearheaded by Yngwie Malmsteen and Randy Rhoads, inspired by Uli Jon Roth and Ritchie Blackmore (and Bach, Mozart, Paganini, etc.) and taken to its heights by Jason Becker, Marty Friedman, Tony MacAlpine and the other early Shrapnel Records artists, the neo-classical period in modern rock guitar was a time of previously unimaginable technical progress and harmonic inventiveness.
I remember someone telling me that George Lynch once said he heard B.B. King say something that instantly improved his guitar style. It went something like this: “If you play a wrong note, play it again like you mean it and it’ll sound like the best note you played all night." The dubious origins of this gem aside, I've always found this to be an almost religious concept to strive toward, where any note can work anywhere if it is done with purposeful conviction.
As a guitar players' tastes and abilities evolve, and they begin to gravitate toward an appreciation for and desire to learn more technically demanding music, the pentatonic scale often gets a bad rap. It's often considered cliché and not as impressive as three-note-per string (3NPS) diatonic scales.
Slash is a sponge that has soaked up all of the most intoxicating ingredients of all of the best guitar music since the dawn of the electric-guitar-based rock and roll and wrung out a grimy, adventurous and uniquely tasty concoction that never ceases to inspire.
One of the especially cool things about a guitar is the fact that there are almost always at least a few ways to play the same notes. This fact allows (and forces) us guitarists to explore the different possibilities available through experimentation with alternate fingerings, picking strategies and phrasing. Often, while there are many ways to play the exact same notes, there is usually a “magic” fingering and picking pattern that allows for the easiest and most effective execution of the phrase.
Hailed by Guitar World as a “fretboard wizard” and voted “Best New Talent” by Guitar World readers in 1991, Nuno Bettencourt has maintained his relevance since first coming onto the national scene in the late '80s, thanks to his inventive playing, killer tone and skillful songwriting.