6 Classic Signature Shred Licks

Learn six of the coolest shred licks from Yngwie Malmsteen, Buckethead, Paul Gilbert and Vinnie Moore. Learn how to break down the licks to make them much easier to learn, and make your solos sound better today!

Ultimate Guitar
6 Classic Signature Shred Licks


Every famous shredder has their own unique style - from John Petrucci's progressive melodies to Yngwie's lightning fast classical-inspired solos. Their styles are formed by a great many things including their phrasing, their scale choice, their own feelings they express and of course the subject of this article - their licks.

I'm going to give you 6 cool shred licks from Yngwie Malmsteen, Buckethead, Vinnie Moore and Paul Gilbert. These will give you a small insight into their styles and will allow you to inject your guitar playing with hints of these famous shredders.

When practicing be sure to play slowly and perfectly, and only increase the speed when you're completely relaxed and comfortable.

Yngwie Malmsteen

We'll start off with the godfather of neoclassical shred - Yngwie Malmsteen. This first alternate picking lick is a very common one that Yngwie uses in many of his solos. It’s in E minor.
Try playing it on different parts of the neck, and see how fast you can get it - the faster you play this, the better it sounds!

The next lick involves diminished sweeping patterns. The nice thing about diminished 7th arpeggios is that they repeat every 3 frets, so you can take them as high up the neck as you like with very little thought.
This third and final Yngwie lick is a run right down the neck that's often used by Yngwie in climatic points of solos. It is similar to the one played at around 4:15 (at the dramatic pause) in "Far Beyond the Sun." It's in A minor.

Start by just learning this and getting it up to speed:

Then have a go at the full lick:
Learn those few licks and you'll be well on your way to getting that "Yngwie" tone in your solos! Now on to the next shredder...


Buckethead is probably one of the most iconic (and certainly weirdest) guitar players around. Having released literally hundreds of solo albums (along with around 50 from other artists - he even toured with Guns N' Roses for a time!) it's difficult to encapsulate his style in just one lick, but when he shreds this is his most common go-to shape. It's a combination of legato and picking and is a really cool way to spice up your solos. You can move it all the way around the neck to create awesome scale runs too - learn the basic position and you've got an awesome, creative shred tool quite literally at your fingertips.

This is in D minor:
The combination of techniques can make this one a little tricky at first, so try breaking it down. You could start by learning just the first six notes and looping them as an exercise:
Next, extend the legato to include the pull-offs. This is a loop of the first nine notes of the lick.
Next, get the picking down:
Then combine the picking with legato:
And then learn the full lick! Breaking things down and learning each part separately before putting them back together again is a great way to reduce the difficulty of any lick or song you’re trying to learn. Try it with anything that you have trouble with to make it easier to play.

Vinnie Moore

Vinnie is one of the shredders who, although not very famous anymore, should really be respected as a musician. His unique style, first shown on 1986's "Mind's Eye" has continually developed throughout the years. This lick is from one of his instructional DVD's, and it's in A minor.

Start by learning to play this fast:
And then move on to this full lick:
This one is relatively easy to get up to speed and if you're new to shredding it's an ideal one to learn.

Paul Gilbert

And now on to our final example from Paul Gilbert - the master of alternate picking! This lick is a cool idea that you can apply to any three-note-per-string scale to create some nice scale runs. Learn this one idea and you can shred all over the neck.
I hope this lesson has been useful and if you've enjoyed it then head over to www.easy-guitar.weebly.com for cool articles, honest reviews and great lessons!

13 comments sorted by best / new / date

    The tips you add here are great, I think this is quite a lesson. I would definitely like to see more, keep it up!
    That Yngwie diminished sweep idea is copied to great effect in the into to Megadeth's The Skull Beneath the Skin
    Pretty generic article. Still good but you have not put anything in a musical context. These arent really licks to me. They are more like exercises to get the muscle memory used to the shapes. Lessons should always be in a musical context. Especially for beginning and intermediate players. Articles like this project to the lowest common denominator of players. The guys at GC's nation wide who play to loud and sloppy. Sorry
    I see what you're getting at, but to a degree I respectfully disagree with you. I think that sometimes just taking some time to work on the technique is important too, and simple, basic strategies like these can be put to use in a practice routine, and then later applied to or placed into musical context. But I do wholeheartedly agree about the guys at Guitar Center that "shred" these very sloppily, and for some reason as loud as possible. Irritates me too.
    The first yngwie tab is wrong in my opinion. This signature lick is more like the following: E|-17-14-16-17-16-14-21-14-16-17-16-14-|
    That's a nice one too - they're both the same pattern, just with yours moved up two frets. It depends which key you're playing in. Have fun shredding
    Now theres a context to which something can be applied a key. Had you mentioned that my criticism woul have been a little less. Sorry i mean no disrespect.
    They're not though, check out the notes again. the distance between the 6th and 7th note in the article vs what I posted. Yngwie very seldom uses the one in the article and people often mistranscribe this lick.