Megadeth: 'Holy Wars' Dave's Guitar Solo Lesson with Chris Zoupa

author: Chris Zoupa date: 03/12/2014 category: soloing
rating: 9.7 / votes: 26 
Megadeth: 'Holy Wars' Dave's Guitar Solo Lesson with Chris Zoupa
I've always loved this solo. I could emulate Marty Friedman's exotic and arpeggio ridden playing pretty well, but Mustaine's style and note choice always seemed to be difficult to recreate. When playing this song I would "make do" by playing an aggressive stream of improvised notes in roughly the right box shape… But I never had the ear and patience to learn it properly… I would also look up tabs and watch videos and no one had anything that was accurate or helpful… SO I knuckled down after many requests from my students, and fans on YouTube, and now have some pretty cool tips, video footage and tabs to help you guys master this amazing solo!

Sections 1 & 2 tips:

The first 2 sections of this solo works entirely with a pentatonic box shape in "E" minor with a few stretches, "blue notes" and accidentals. The scale and shape Dave uses for these sections are shown in the diagram below.


This is played quite quickly and aggressively. Once slowed down, the patterns and shapes aren't too intricate. The main thing to focus on is legato and string changing emphasis. You'll also notice a few notes will double up while you're playing it i.e. 17th fret of the 2nd sting and 12th fret of the 1st. These "doubled up notes" may sound silly or superfluous, but at full speed serve their purpose and sound really b-tchin'.

Section 3 tips:

This section works with some pretty fast hammer ons around that initial pentatonic box shape used in sections 1 ands 2.


It was a bit difficult to figure out and tab this section. Obviously it's not perfect semiquavers into semiquaver triplets so… In the time elapsed (2 bars), you've just got to smash out the 6 note hammered pattern 5 times as accurately and awesomely as possible. Keep in mind you only want to being picking each string once before there is a string change. After that the next run is very similar in shape and phrasing to the first 2 sections.

Section 4 tips:

This section works with a pretty cool pulloff riff then works into some pretty fast picking. Once again around the pentatonic box that we've been using and have become familiar with. Also, pay close attention to the legato/pulloff markings in the diagram below.


As you can see this bar is 16 perfect semiquavers (or sixteenth notes). We must be wary of where the picks and pulloffs go. I actually think of this bar in little chunks of notes. The first 4 note chunk is pick, pulloff, pick pick. The next chunks are two identical groups of 6. We play pick, pulloff, pick, pulloff, pick, pick and then repeat. We get the group of 4 and the two groups of 6 and play the whole bar/phrase 4 times in a row.

After that we work into this semiquaver shred lick. (See diagram below)


This is pretty simple. Get the right semiquaver rhythm on the 2nd (or "B") string and just move between 15th and 17th fret on the beat, or you can think of it as every 4 semiquavers! Pretty fun and shreddy good times. This bar/phrase repeats 2 times.

Section 5 tips:

This final section works through this cool pulloff phrase.



You'll notice there's a 12th fret note on the 2nd string immediately followed by 12th fret of the 3rd string. At full speed, playing legato in semiquavers, you pretty much have to bar your pointer finger on 12th fret of both of these strings to keep the phrasing less fiddly and accurate, whilst still maintaining the aggression. Once you've mastered this phrase you just drag it up fret by fret (or chromatically) for the climatic fist raising bends! AND we're done!

I hope this has been a jolly good read. Hopefully my tab of the full song will be available soon! Happy shredding guys!

Download tab here.


By Chris Zoupa
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