Neoclassical Shred Guitar

This is a lesson on how to play guitar like the many great shred guitarists, like yngwie and jason becker, etc. I will break down the key components of it and explain them, and leave you with a practice song at the end.

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So, you want to learn how to shred. Well, in this lesson, I'm going to cover the fundamental elements of shred guitar and its history. The History Of Shred Guitar It started when virtuoso violinists and pianists started playing insanely amazing stuff on there instrumets. Good examples of those players are people like Nikolay Korsakov and Nicolo Paganini. They were two of the best songwriters ever. Then, a man named Yngwie Malmsteen saw a tv broadcast of a violinist covering a song by paganini, and decided that that's how he wants to play the guitar. He practiced for years, and then came to America in the eighties, right after Van Halen already got people playing there guitars much more with the advent of tapping. All of a sudden, Yngwie Malmsteen bursts onto the scene, and takes all that up a notch. Then, from there, people like Paul Gilbert and Jason Becker started popping up and getting big, and they took all the things van halen did and mixed it with Yngwies music, and got what shred guitar is today. Techniques needed for shred guitar Now, you probably just want to play guitar now, so I'll get to the lesson. Ok, I thought about all the different techniques needed for shred guitar and came up with the following: Speed/Alternate Picking Sweep Picking Trills Tapping Hammer Ons and Pull Offs String Skipping So, thats alot to cover, but I'll try. Hammer Ons and Pull Offs, and Trills This is one of the Basic guitar techniques. For Hammer Ons and Pull Offs, all you really need to do is pick a note, and then, while you still hear the note, putting another finger on another note either lower or higher then the other, If you go higher, its called Hammer Ons, and if you go lower, Its called pull offs. When you do a pull off, you have to remember to take your first finger fretting the note off so you can hear the other note. Trills are just whrer yor hammmer on and pull off really fast. Here are some examples:
EX1
e|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
B|----Hammer On------------------Pull Off------------------------------------|
G|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
D|-------5h7-----------------------7p5---------------------------------------|
A|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
E|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|

EX2
This is a cool hammeron and pulloff lick
e|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
B|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
G|----------0h5h7-------0h5h7-------0h5h7------0h5h7p5p0---------------------|
D|--0h5h7---------0h5h7-------0h5h7------0h5h7-----------7p5p0---------------|
A|------------------------------------------------------------7p5p0----------|
E|------------------------------------------------------------------7p5p0----|

EX3
These are some common hammerons and pulloffs in shred guitar
e|--13h15p13p12-----12h13p12p10----15p14p12-------15p12h13h15p13p12--12tr13--|
B|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
G|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
D|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
A|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
E|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
Alternate Picking Alternate Picking is picking up and down very fast with a steady speed. When you get good at alternate picking, you can learn to do it really fast, and thats how shred guitarists can play super fast passages without sweep picking. To play faster, once you get good at going up and down consistently, if you keep your fretting hands fingers closer to the fretboard, you can play much faster then if you were to lift your fingers higher. Here are some good examples: EX1 This is an example from Yngwie Malmsteens Far Beyond The Sun, you'd never be able to play this to speed unless you alternate pick.
e|13h14p13p10----------------------------------------------------------------|
B|-----------14-12-10--------------------------------------------------------|
G|-------------------13-12-10------------------------------------------------|
D|----------------------------12-11-9----------------------------------------|
A|------------------------------------12-11-9-8ZYABLA~HUYABLA~---------------------------|
E|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|

EX2
This is an example from Racer X's Song Scarified.
e|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
B|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
G|------------------------------------------------6~-------------------------|
D|------------------------------------------6-7-9----------------------------|
A|----------------------2-4-----------5-7-9----------------------------------|
E|2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-4-5-----2-2-5-7-9----------------------------------------|

EX3
This is one of my favorite alternate picking riffs
e|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
B|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
G|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
D|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
A|----------12----------15-14-12---------------------------------------------|
E|-12-14-15----15-14-12----------15-14---------------------------------------|
String Skipping Ok, string skipping is where you play a note(s) on one string, and then skip some strings and play a note on a different string. To do this, you can either alternate pick (like me), or economy pick, which I'll explain in the example. Example: Ok, this is a cool sounding example of string skipping, but to play it fast, you have to use the right fingering. To play this, use your index finger on the 16 on D, your middle finger on 18 on B, your index finger on the 16 on e, your ring finger on 19 on e, your index finger on the 16 on e, your middle finger on 18 on B, and to end, use your index finger on the 16 on D. Also, when crossing over the G string, you can either use a downstroke on the first two notes, or alternate pick all the notes.
e|-------16-19-16----------16-19-16------------------------------------------|
B|----18----------18----18----------18---------------------------------------|
G|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
D|-16----------------16----------------16------------------------------------|
A|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
E|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
Sweep Picking This is probably the most difficult technique to master. It took me 5 months of trying before I was any good at it. This technique is where, basically in a strumming motion (it looks more like an oval) you play an arpeggio on the strings. This is the technique that Jason Becker loved to use, and has been used by a variety of players in almost every genre of music. Now, when learning how to sweep pick, it's a good idea to look up videos of people sweep picking so you can figure out the motion. Also, you want to practice really, really slow so you can synchronize the right and left hands so you can sweep pick effortlessly. Here are some practice tips to help you get better at sweeping. 1. Practice slow 2. Make sure you can hear each note cleanly, which means you make sure the previous note is making no noise when you pick the next one. 3. Don't be afraid to experiment with sweeps different then the normal sweeps you see all the time. 4. Also, finally, learn the song neoclassical sweep by Gentaro Satomura, it really helped mean and they have a good video of it on youtube. Ok, so now that I have given you some practice tips, here are some examples. EX1 This is a very basic sweep, a good one to start with. When you play this, start with a downstroke until you get to the pull off, which you upstroke until you get to the 12 on G, which starts the pattern over with a Downstroke. |= upstroke v= downstroke
   v  v  v  |     |  v   v v  |     |   v
e|-------12-15p12----------12-15p12------------------------------------------|
B|----13----------13----13----------13---------------------------------------|
G|-12----------------12----------------12------------------------------------|
D|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
A|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
E|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
EX2 This is one of my favorite five string sweeps, and it works good over an E5 power chord. You can repeat this as much as you want
  v      v  v   v  v  |    |  |  |  |
e|----------------12-17p12---------------------------------------------------|
B|-------------13----------13------------------------------------------------|
G|----------14----------------14---------------------------------------------|
D|-------14----------------------14------------------------------------------|
A|-12h15----------------------------15---------------------------------------|
E|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|

EX3
This is another 5 string sweep
  v   v  v  v  v  |     |  |  |  v  v  v  v  v  |     |  |  |  v
e|-------------12-15p12----------------------12-15p12------------------------|
B|----------13----------13----------------13----------13---------------------|
G|-------12----------------12----------12----------------12------------------|
D|----14----------------------14----14----------------------14---------------|
A|-15----------------------------15----------------------------15------------|
E|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|

EX4
This is part of Gentaro Satomuras Neoclassical Sweep
   |       | v v v        | v v        | v v   v        | v v v       | v v v
e|-13h17p13------13h17p13------13h17p13-------10h13p10-------10h13p10------10|
B|---------15--15--------15--15--------15--15----------11--11--------11--11--|
G|-----------14------------14------------14--------------10------------10----|
D|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
A|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
E|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|

         | v v v        | v v v      | v v v        | v v v     | v   v  v
e|h13p10-------10h13p10------10h13p10------10h13p10-------15p12----------12--|
B|------11---11--------12--12--------12--12--------12--12-------13----13-----|
G|--------10-------------10------------10------------10------------12--------|
D|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
A|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
E|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
     |    | v v v |     | v v
e|--15p12------12-15p12------------------------------------------------------|
B|-------13--13--------13--13------------------------------------------------|
G|---------12------------12--------------------------------------------------|
D|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
A|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
E|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
Now, once you understand and have mastered all these principles you can play this, a solo I wrote that I guess I will call Green Slime.
                           Green Slime (Neoclassical Guitar Solo)
e|-15b-13h15p13p12----------------------12-13-15p12----------12-15p12-17p13--|
B|-----------------15-13-12----12-13-15-------------13----13-----------------|
G|--------------------------14-------------------------12--------------------|
D|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
A|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
E|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|

e|---------13-17p13-15p12----------12-15p12-17~--13-------13------13-----13--|
B|15----15----------------13----13------------------15-17-----------15-17----|
G|---14----------------------12-----------------------------15-17------------|
D|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
A|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
E|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|

e|15-17-13-----13-----13------13-------17-13---------------------------------|
B|--------15-17---------15-17----------------15-------15---------------------|
G|---------------15-17--------------------------14--14--14-----------------14|
D|------------------------------------------------16------16------------16---|
A|----------------------------------------------------------17-14--14-17-----|
E|---------------------------------------------------------------15----------|

e|-----------13-17-15-13-15-13-12------------------------12-13-15-13-12------|
B|-15------15---------------------15-13-12------12-13-15---------------15-13-|
G|---14--14-------------------------------13--13-----------------------------|
D|-----16-----------------------------------14-------------------------------|
A|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
E|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|

e|-------------------12-13-15----------14-15-17----------16-17-19-21b~/-0----|
B|-12-------12-13-15----------14-15-17----------16-17-19----------------0----|
G|----13--13------------------------------------------------------------0----|
D|------14--------------------------------------------------------------0----|
A|----------------------------------------------------------------------0----|
E|----------------------------------------------------------------------0----|
Well, thats it. I hope you enjoyed the lesson and that it taught you a little bit about neoclassical shred guitar, Oh, and good luck on the last piece, its hard.

31 comments sorted by best / new / date

comments policy
    Gods Guitarist
    I don't ****ing understand this because im not using an ****ing pick! I pick with my fingers and soon someone comes and says to me, that the word finger picking means nothing!
    Finger picking is a huge part of guitar! If you're good at it you can play some sweet songs, but using a pick is really important to. I highly suggest that you start practicing with one. You should keep practicing without one also, though.
    Ibanezbelyeu
    A decent lesson on technique. For more info on neo-classical style, elaborate on building chords from harmonic minor scales and then sweeping those out. Especially the diminished and Augmented shapes. These are quintessential to the neo-classical sound
    Rocknrolla35
    Not bad,but not great. All these techniques are common for basically all kinds metal,that USES solos. It would've been better, if you showed the actual theory behind the music itself. You know like, what scales are most prominent in it,how exactly the circle of fifths is used, and other stuff that makes it sound so Nicolo Paganini-like.
    awesomo41894
    xXxA7X~Fan07xXx wrote: Cool. I've been wanting to get better at shred guitar and this will help me to get ideas. Thanks for posting this lesson. Best shred guitar lesson so far.
    Thanks alot man
    xXxA7X~Fan07xXx
    Cool. I've been wanting to get better at shred guitar and this will help me to get ideas. Thanks for posting this lesson. Best shred guitar lesson so far.
    KoK_Guitarist
    Colohue wrote: Look up Ritchie Blackmore. He did this way before Malmsteen
    LMFAO thats what i was thinking.Yep it was Blackmore alright as well as Randy Rhoads
    SonOfPest
    Demon Ash wrote: ex.3 is that the same sweep avenged sevenfold uses on "seize the day"
    Most bands use that sweep you moron. Seriously. It isn't like Avenged Sevenfold are the only band that use sweeps.
    fenne50
    i like it i like it and your right sweeping is the hardest,but iam getting better at it every day
    liampje
    I think you can better cover a lesson on how to study musicians that way you can get your own style i mean Yngwie is basicly a mix of some Bach and Paganini. So if you want to be a neo-classical shredder you can better just take 2 original componists of classical music and get your own sound.
    zorbozate
    Absoulutly exellent , well presented , Even sounds good thanx!! rock on rock hard!
    panterafever
    it wouldnt let me quote but colohue m said look up Ritchie Blackmore. He did this way before Malmsteen alot of people did this at the time of malmsteen and before. Like steve morse of deep purple is who influenced malmsteen. And randy roads ozzy's first guitarist did this too. But that violinst didnt inspire malmsteen to play hendrix did by busting and catching his guitars on fire.
    moonatblack
    Good.Except this is not neoclassical.Neoclassical consists of diminished tones and harmonic scales.What you have are a bunch of standard shredding techniques.
    Ryan.X
    Is there any particular scale or anything used for this? And really good lesson by the way!
    miskatsu
    I don't ****ing understand this because im not using an ****ing pick! I pick with my fingers and soon someone comes and says to me, that the word finger picking means nothing!
    The Faction
    me and the band "The Faction" just started and by learning this we will be doing dual guitar solos like crazy thanks man
    Gods Guitarist
    great lesson! the sweep picking practice is a little bit hard for beginners to sweep picking (me), though. Still great lesson!
    awesomo41894
    3dw1n wrote: hey man that-s a great less this is very helpful for me and i'm sure for others KEEP GOING
    Cool, thanks.
    3dw1n
    hey man that-s a great less this is very helpful for me and i'm sure for others KEEP GOING
    awesomo41894
    Life Is Brutal wrote: Nice solo at the end, about how many seconds is it supposed to be played within?
    It takes me about 20 seconds to play it, but if you play the whole thing fast w/o expression, it can be done in about 15.
    Rocknrolla35
    One thing that makes neoclassical metal sound the way it sounds is passages that either descend, either ascend by a minor 3rd. Often a parallel diminished th is used on the parallel string. I just found out that myself.