Alex Skolnick has always played solos that just jump into my ear and have a dance party. I really like the way he fuses rock and jazz.
This solo has some pretty cool pentatonic licks with some dominant Phrygian runs and of course the obligatory swept arpeggios he's so well known for.
As usual I've left a link to my YouTube lesson and a tab at the bottom of the article. Let's start looking at the problematic sections of this solo!
Section 1 Tips:
The start of this solo is based around an "E" minor pentatonic starting from the 7th fret/B note on the 6th string.
When the 9th fret of the 4th/G string is held you'll need to brush a harmonic tap on the 21st fret and add a bit of vibrato. Try to keep your tapping finger really stiff, but barely touch the string and use the actual fret bar close to the start of the 22nd fret to get the clearest harmonic.
The other important thing to mention in the 1st section is the quick legato run using a "B" Dominant Phrygian scale. (See scale diagram below)
Like the majority of legato runs we'll only be picking each string once. We'll then need to leave the rest of the notes to be done using hammer ons and pulloffs with our fretting hand. You will want to practice the Dominant Phrygian shape a couple of times as just a regular picked scale before adding any legato or unnecessary complication. There's a few intervals within the scale that makes the shapes and patterns a little odd comparatively to what we see in regular diatonic scales.
Section 2 Tips:
The 2nd section deals with some pretty cool melodies weaved with octave chords. It doesn't sound too hard, but you can really mess it up if you get the emphasis wrong. (See excerpt below)
The main thing I want you guys to concentrate on is the direction of strumming. We initially want to start on a down strum, then slide, then back/up strum the chord we've slid to, then we repeat that pattern to the end of that octave chord phrase.
After that we work into this cool bluesy legato phrase. (See excerpt below)
This is lick is pretty cool. It's basically just a little chunk of the "E" minor pentatonic with the flat 5th blues sound (in this case a "Bb"), played with a legato feel exactly the same 3 times. Once again we're only picking one note per string.
Section 3 Tips:
This section starts with some pretty simple taps and another tap harmonic. The thing that troubled me most in this section was the sweep arpeggios at the end of it. (See excerpt below)
I think of this as a "E" minor triad with a flat 5 as it's made up of E (1), G (3), Bb (b5) and B (5). It's a bit tricky to combine the legato with the sweeps. I had to slow it down and practice it till my hands started syncing up adequately. Finish the legato on the 1st string then do a mini sweep from the 2nd to the 3rd string. We repeat that concept 4 times.
Section 4 Tips:
The majority of section 4 takes place around the most common "E" minor pentatonic shape, but it's all relatively manageable blues-rock soloing. My favourite part of this section is the minor 7th sweep. This arpeggio can be problematic if you address your sweeping incorrectly. (See excerpt below)
The main problem I find with sweeps like this is waiting for the hammer ons on the 5th/"A" string to finish before sweeping through to the 1st string. I don't start the sweeping or gliding motion till I hit the 14th fret of the 4th/"D" string.
Section 5 Tips:
The final section of this solo is a very fast and aggressive shred run using semiquaver triplets. (See excerpt below)
We're working with notes out of the "E" Dorian/"F#" Phrygian scale. I found it's best to work through this run in groups of 6 notes/2 triplets at a time. The obvious thing to do is to take it slowly and build up the speed whilst still locking in with the triplet feel/pulse. Keep in mind that when we get to the 2nd and 1st strings we change from standard diatonic shapes to stretchier pentatonic shapes with a flat 5 flavour. Be patient with shredding through the pentatonic shapes as initially they feel very stretchy and awkward.