“When I recorded with Jason Becker, he was still able to speak… he articulated exactly what he wanted, down to every pinch harmonic, vibrato and out-of-tune note”: Shrapnel veteran Michael Lee Firkins reflects on the final days of shred

Michael Lee Firkins
(Image credit: Ross Pelton)

Coming in hot at the end of the ‘80s shred era and the beginning of the ‘90s virtuoso boom, Michael Lee Firkins was part of a stable of Shrapnel Records-signed guitarists who helped change the instrument forever.

Though he might not carry the cache of Vai, the bravado of Malmsteen or the notoriety of Satriani, Firkins was a revelation with his fusion of bluegrass, country, blues, jazz with heavy rock and eye-popping, high-speed hybrid picking.

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Andrew Daly

Andrew Daly is an iced-coffee-addicted, oddball Telecaster-playing, alfredo pasta-loving journalist from Long Island, NY, who, in addition to being a contributing writer for Guitar World, scribes for Rock Candy, Bass Player, Total Guitar, and Classic Rock History. Andrew has interviewed favorites like Ace Frehley, Johnny Marr, Vito Bratta, Bruce Kulick, Joe Perry, Brad Whitford, Rich Robinson, and Paul Stanley, while his all-time favorite (rhythm player), Keith Richards, continues to elude him.