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Javier Reyes teaches you his progressive fingerstyle approach with this exclusive track and video lesson

We’re super-excited to bring you a track written especially for Total Guitar by Animals As Leaders, T.R.A.M. and Mestis guitarist, Javier Reyes. 

Javier’s AAL bandmate Tosin Abasi recorded a video lesson for the magazine back in 2015; we’re huge fans of the band (and Javier’s own side project, Mestis), and the duo’s influence on modern progressive guitar music really can’t be overstated.

Usually seen playing extended-range eight-string ESP electric guitars, Javier draws on tech-metal, classical and Latin influences to create emotional and ultra-contemporary sonic soundscapes. Javier’s piece draws from this background but is written for standard-tuned six-string guitar, which means everyone can have a go!

Entitled Some Kind Of Way, it’s a medium tempo piece, but there’s a relaxed feel in the vein of Mestis tracks like Sedosa or Ever Wonder. Javier describes the song as “a cool, short etude for someone looking for something interesting to learn while developing their fingerpicking technique.” We’d certainly agree.

As you work through the tab, you’ll notice some three-note arpeggios which Javier picks with a “thumb-index-middle” finger pattern. These are fairly easy but don’t get too comfy – Some Kind Of Way switches between arpeggios and more fluid melodic playing, so you’ll need to be ready to change tack.

You can be sure you’re really getting to the nub of Javier’s more ambient style here. “I used a lot of fingerpicking on the [Polysemy] album,” Reyes told TG in 2015. “It’s essentially my forte. It’s something I studied a lot and eventually became one of my strongest points.” 

As for Some Kind Of Way, Javier says, “It’s not too complicated for the left hand or the right hand, but definitely fun to play.”

(Image credit: Future)

This is one of those unusual cases where analysing the music might just make it harder to play. Our advice is to slowly learn from the tab then play by feel when you jam with the backing track. 

Javier’s time signature changes and offbeat phrases can be tough to pin down over the drumbeat – but counting a double-speed eighth note pulse may help you keep time. 

Look out for the ‘let ring’ instructions – generally, you’ll be holding down chord shapes during these moments and switching to melodic playing elsewhere.