Watch Tim Henson improvise with Herman Li using Jason Becker’s original prototype Peavey Numbers guitar

Tim Henson playing Jason Becker's Peavey JB24 Numbers electric guitar
(Image credit: DragonForce / YouTube)

Through his jaw-dropping work with Polyphia and social media excerpts of his blistering technical prowess, Tim Henson has cemented himself as one of the guitar world’s most refined fretboard navigators. Characterized by lightning-fast execution and exquisite melodicism, Henson’s fretboard acrobatics have all the finesse of a well-choreographed, intricately composed masterpiece.

What happens, then, when he tries to improvise? Well, that was the topic of conversation when the six-string sorcerer joined forces with Herman Li on the latest installment of the mammoth Jason Becker fundraiser livestream event.

In short? Well, much of the same, really. Using Jason Becker’s original Peavey prototype Numbers electric guitar, which has also been played by the late Eddie Van Halen, Henson traded licks with the DragonForce maestro in a rare display of his improvisational talents. 

“We’ll be jamming, but fans have never seen you do it, right? You don’t usually jam,” comments Li, to which Henson responds, “No, I don’t usually jam. Hopefully it’s not too bad... It's rare footage.” 

Henson’s improvised passages are dotted throughout the video below, with the first one starting at 6:30.

Testing the waters with a few synchronized low-string stabs, Henson begins commuting his way up the fingerboard through a series of tasty lead flourishes and melodic pentatonic constructions.

“It’s so crazy to hold this thing,” said Henson after taking it for a spin. “This is such a famous guitar.”

Upon being informed by Li that EVH had once wielded the famed six-string, Henson reacted in much the same way anyone would, saying, “Eddie Van Halen played this guitar? What?! That’s fucking crazy.”

“It’s crazy, this thing shreds. The action is super-low, so it definitely feels like you could do some wild arpeggios on it," continued Henson before, naturally, playing some wild arpeggios.

Later, Li said, “This campaign is not just about raising money. I finally see the press talking about Jason Becker a lot now. His condition, he went to hospital, he came home. [It’s] raising awareness for the disease, because it exists and can happen to any of us.”

The pair were performing as part of the Jason Becker fundraiser event, which aims to raise money for the guitar guru, who has been living with ALS for the past 30 years.

Through star-studded Twitch streams and an official Reverb store selling a series of signed six-strings, the initiative has currently raised $238,252 as of June 15.

Visit the Official Jason Becker Reverb Shop to see the guitars currently up for sale.

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Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.