Art of Shredding: Chris Letchford

Originally published in Guitar World, December 2010

Scale the Summit's six-string wizard talks about shred guitar.

For flat-out, unapologetic soloing, who blows your mind?

Guthrie Govan.

What album/song inspired you to play fast?

The first two Liquid Tension Experiment albums.

What helped you progress dramatically as a guitarist?

In my early teens, I would practice four to six hours a day using a very detailed practice regimen. I used a metronome the entire time I practiced, as it's the only way to improve speed accurately.

What was your biggest technical hurdle?

Frank Gambale's technique of combining economy and sweep picking is a really challenging technique. If you are unfamiliar, check out "The Lick That Slurped L.A." [on Gambale's Monster Licks and Speed Picking DVD].

What key performance in your discography is a successful example of what you try to achieve?

Pretty much the entire first half of our song "Bloom" from the album Carving Desert Canyons. It has some of the most challenging string skipping, sweep-like melodies and counterpoint.

Is shredding a good thing?

I think it's great when used well. A lot of people say that shredding has no emotion, but when used nicely you can achieve really neat sounds, especially if the backing riff that you're playing over sounds great. In fact, if you spend some time and wrte a really unique riff, you'll find it's easier to write a solo that sounds unique, especially if you plan to shred.

What are you currently working on, and what is your goal as a player?

I'm currently working on more shred-based legato techniques, combining weird duration groupings, from sextuplets to 16th notes grouped melodically in fives. I have never really used much legato in my playing, so I'm trying to work out some new solo ideas using that for the next Scale the Summit record. My goal as a player has been to get as good as I possibly can, and I still have a way to go.

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