Art of Shredding: Jeff Loomis

Originally published in Guitar World, December 2010

The Nevermore shred wizard talks about what he knows best: shred guitar.

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

Jason Becker has always done it for me when it comes to soloing. He's a huge influence. As far as insane fastness and picking, it would have to be Shawn Lane. He was way ahead of his time when it came to technique.

What album/song inspired you to play fast?

Yngwie Malmsteen's Rising Force. The things I learned most from that record were picking technique, phrasing and overall ear training.

What helped you progress dramatically as a guitarist?

Paul Gilbert had an old exercise on the B and E strings that I would play constantly. It focused on the technique of going from a downstroke on the B string to an upstroke on the E. The pattern was B string 12, 13, 15, E string 12, and B string 15, 13, 12, always focusing on alternate picking. I would play this slowly for hoursand then work it up to speed with a metronome. Another good exercise is to ear train. Just listen to some simple melodies from a commercial jingle and see how long it takes you to play the theme on your guitar.

What was your biggest technical hurdle?

I used to pick with my whole right arm. It took a lot of work to focus all that energy into picking with my wrist instead. To get the ultimate picking, I truly believe you should just play with your wrist.

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

I always try to combine elements of playing with tons of energy and emotion. I also like very dark-sounding solos, so I tend to use the diminished scale quite often. Some of the solos I'm most proud of are on "Enemies of Reality," "The River Dragon" and "Without Morals," from our new CD.

Is shredding a good thing?

Yes, shredding is great, if you can combine elements of feel and emotion within it. Unfortunately, there are players that do it all the time without putting any soul into it.

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

We're on tour with Nevermore right now, and I'm also working on my new solo CD. I'll probably start recording in December.

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