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

Hi guys. Enjoy my easy step by step tutorial of the epic and final solo to the Megadeth classic "Holy Wars" played by Dave Mustaine.

Ultimate Guitar
Hi guys. Enjoy my easy step by step tutorial of the epic and final solo to the Megadeth classic "Holy Wars" played by Dave Mustaine (also check out the complete guide to "Holy Wars...The Punishment Due" at UG Wiki).

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 bitchin'.

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.

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By Chris Zoupa

25 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Awesome Guitarist/Muso/Teacher and Bloke, and he's an Aussie! Some people just have it all don't they. Great Lesson
    easiest? what do you mean is ,,easiest"?
    "easy adjective superlative adjective: easiest 1. achieved without great effort; presenting few difficulties."
    It Was Zero
    Easy is relative -- some of us suck at guitar you know lol Thanks for the lesson!
    Chris Zoupa
    Ignore them dude. It's not easy I've yet to see anyone play it note for note. It's always improved messed bollocks. Even Andy James' cover is just random and incredibly wrong. Don't get me wrong the dude can out play me, but his ear ain't anywhere near mine.
    Now we're talking… better than some weak Altered bridge crap.
    Dude, go away. Jesus Christ. And it's Alter* Bridge. I've seen at least 20 people tell you otherwise. It's not ****ing hard to understand.
    Falter Bridge?
    Oh I think I've got it now. It's HALTered Bridge. Haltered Bridge. That makes more sense. Makes me think of titties for some reason.
    Amazing as always. I don't care if that's the "easy" solo. Thank you for continuing to do these lessons, especially for free.
    Why do we need a lesson for the easiest solo in the song? Great Leasson though, please do Marty's solos.
    Chris Zoupa
    They're all on Youtube. I have the acoustic one and the 2 other ones. When the tab is up on UG they'll all be in one place.
    Chris Zoupa
    I think your friend's ex wife is dishonest and was unfaithful that's why they're no longer together. The fact that you guys are still in contact is disgusting. We all know you're talking about Mike, he's still hurting and the fact that you're trying to rub in how well SHE's doing is completely messed up Patricia. Oh... And I doubt he thinks your his friend... Just a head's up he's having a party and you and Sandy (the cheating laptop tycoon) aren't invited.
    Thanks Ben for the tabs and you exellent,exotic picking when you are using the big and second finger,stay away your first finger for the tapping and different guitar phrases..,so it,s really cool technique...!
    You think you could tab out For Your Love and I'll Be Searching by Impellitteri and Dancing with desire by King Kobra?