Joel Hoekstra teaches you the guitar solo for Whitesnake's Always and Forever

Of all the solos I crafted and recorded for the latest Whitesnake album, 2019's Flesh & Blood, the one in the song Always and Forever is among the most aggressive and features a variety of my favorite lead playing techniques, including two-finger tapping. 

For today’s lesson, I’d like to use that solo as a case study in applying that and other cool and useful techniques.

The solo is played in the key of F# minor, and the majority of the phrases are based either on the F# blues scale (F#, A, B, C, C#, E) or the F# natural minor scale, which is also known as the F# pure minor scale and the F# Aeolian mode (F#, G#, A, B, C#, D, E).

I begin the solo with a pedal-tone lick; a pedal-tone can be defined as a sustained or re-articulated note around which other notes or chords move. Figure 1 offers a clear example of this type of pedal tone lick, wherein an ascending melody on the high E string alternates in 16th notes with a B note played on the 2nd string’s 12th fret.

Another great example of this type of pedal-tone lick is the pull-off pattern shown in Figure 2. Here, the open B string is sounded with pull-offs from higher, fretted melody tones.

The opening phrase in the solo to Always and Forever is based on a series of diatonic 3rd intervals, or 3rds, played within the structure of F# Aeolian. Figure 3 illustrates how to ascend in diatonic 3rds within the scale structure. 

A sax player friend of mine suggested reversing the direction of every other pair of 3rds, so that the sequence would sound less obvious and have a more interesting melodic contour, and the result is the phrase shown in Figure 4.

When it came to this solo, I decided to incorporate this reverse order idea into the opening pedal-tone-driven phrase. Instead of playing Figure 5, wherein each 3rd moves from the lower to the higher string, I alternately reverse the direction of the note pairs, as shown in Figure 6.

(Image credit: Future)

The next phrase in the solo brings in two-finger fretboard tapping, for which I use my pick hand’s first two fingers, followed by two notes played with the fret hand. The result is the series of cascading quintuplets shown in Figure 7.

I then steer the feel of the solo back into more standard hard rock territory by playing a series of bluesy hammer/pull licks that are based on the F# blues scale, as shown in Figure 8.

After that, I revisit neo-classical territory with the minor arpeggio-based phrases shown in Figure 9. The first is simply based on a F#m triad, with the notes C#, A and F#, and the second (beginning with the second half-step bend) outlines a more harmonically rich F# m(add)9 sound, with the notes G#, F#, C# and A. 

I then wrap up the solo with the fast double-tapped phrase on the high E string shown in Figure 10, again using two pick-hand fingers.

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