"Sorry, my head takes a little while to get into gear,” says Brian May with a little laugh as he begins to mull over the history of Queen. The 63-year-old guitarist speaks gently, endeavoring to answer questions as fully as he can. May’s academic air is understandable. As a younger man he attended London’s illustrious Imperial College until he abandoned his studies and a promising future in astrophysics to fully dedicate himself to Queen. The band’s estimated worldwide album sales vary anywhere from 150 to 300 million. Whatever the exact figure, it was certainly a smart career move for the budding cosmologist.
This month, I’d like to talk a little bit about some of the guitarists who have influenced my playing and writing style. Many of these influences—the main one being Dream Theater’s John Petrucci—use seven-string guitars, and I’ve long been drawn to the instrument’s expanded range and how it can be used in a musical way. Many guitarists who play standard six-string guitars have replicated the seven-string’s low B string by simply tuning their low E string down.
When Bob Marley brought the Jamaican sounds of reggae to the U.S. in the early Seventies, he created a musical revolution. His first two Island Records releases, Catch a Fire and Burnin’ (both issued in 1973), included the hits “Stir it Up,” “Get Up, Stand Up” and the mega-smash “I Shot the Sheriff,” which when covered in 1974 by Eric Clapton helped catapult Marley to international acclaim.
In this month’s column, I’d like to show you some simple and effective ways to make your metal rhythm guitar parts sound bigger, heavier and more powerful. These ideas are useful in many different ways, and I think you will find them applicable in live performance as well as when overdubbing and layering tracks.
On a warm California afternoon in March, John 5 is at his home in the Hollywood Hills, enjoying a day of relaxation, a rare thing in his world. Between his primary job as guitarist in Rob Zombie’s band, solo albums, guest and session appearances, and extracurricular activities like scoring the upcoming Zombie-directed horror flick The Lords of Salem, John 5 is a particularly busy man, busier at the moment, he says, than at any time in his professional life.