Megadeth: 'Symphony of Destruction' Guitar Solo Lesson with Chris Zoupa

Hey guys. Check out my step by step article and tutorial on the amazing solo from "Symphony of Destruction" by Megadeth.

Ultimate Guitar
Standard tuning: E A D G B E

Difficulty: Advanced

When I was a wee tot I purchased "Countdown to Extinction" with some money I rustled together from teacher guitar to fellow students at my high school (ok so I wasn't that much of a tot). The first time I listened to the album I was blown away by all of Marty Friedman's soloing and phrasing. "Symphony of Destruction" was the outstanding track/solo for me. The phrasing, note choice and speed was just utter win, and I vowed one day to learn it note for note and brag smugly to other fellow metal heads… and here we are. As usual we'll break the solo down into sections and look at anything that could be potentially problematic. I'll also leave a link to YouTube and the tab at the bottom of the article. 

Section 1 Tips

The opening phrase of this solo is so important to set the scene for things to come. Although most of this section takes place on one string, pay close attention to the expressiveness of the slides, bends and vibratos (see excerpt below).

You'll notice that over these 6 bars there isn't heaps of notes per bar. Try to work through each bar methodically and make EVERY NOTE count!

Section 2 Tips

I think of the opening phrase of section 2 as having a Lydian feel in C as we're looking at "Cb5" into an "A" minor arpeggio (see excerpt below).

With the exception of some quick legato this phrase is almost entirely straight semiquavers (or sixteenth notes). Keep those notes even and consistent to build the tension and momentum of the solo.

Section 3 Tips

I love the start of this section. These little arpeggio phrases are great and it's essentially the same idea played in 2 different spots (see excerpt below).

Keep in mind that these phrases are played with straight semiquavers/sixteenth notes and pay close attention to the legato emphasis.

Section 4 & 5 Tips

The last 2 sections of this solo work with a pretty simple "E" minor blues pentatonic with a few added quirks. Let's take a look at the shape we'll be looking at as a straight descending scale (see diagram below).

You'll notice that this altered pentatonic scale includes a "C" note (minor 6th played 13th fret on the "B" string) and a Bb (flat/b 5th played 15th fret on the "G" string). These notes add the added tension of the minor 6th and the bluesy rock sound of the flat 5th however they do make these final phrases a little more complicated then your standard AC/DC or KISS pentatonic run. Once you've gotten comfortable with that shape let's try and address the actual phrase from the solo (see excerpt below).

Although this looks like plain ol' straight semiquavers, this phrase is actually pretty hard. Once again pay close attention to the legato, constant string changing and try keep the phrase consistent and flowing. Do take your time with this lick as I found it to be the most challenging part of the solo to get right and nearly hurled my guitar across the room several times like it had "wronged" me.

Hope you guys have enjoyed this. Take care and happy shredding!

Download tab here.

YouTube preview picture

By Chris Zoupa

16 comments sorted by best / new / date

    One of those solos that sound so cool, makes you practice hard enough to master it. Once you master it, you puff your chest out and proclaim loudly, "Really its not that difficult of a solo...." But we all know that its a difficult but well composed one. Havent played this in my bedroom in a while, thanks for the lesson. Will refresh it haha.....
    dat videos thumbnail. but seriously, love your videos Chris.I'm in between jobs at the moment and going through your videos and learning the solos or just the cool licks and exercise you teach is keeping me sane! Keep it up.
    What's economy picking? Been playing since 94 and I've never heard of it. Btw, just watched Megadeth's VH1 behind the music. Enjoyed!
    I think it just means if you are moving to a higher string(D to G), you play a down stroke. If you are moving to a lower string (B to G), you play a up stroke. But for playing fast and even it is best to alternate the picking. I won't even mention inside and outside picking. Sorry, still a bit vague.
    This is gold right here, I had always thought these songs were out of my "league" until I saw your videos, Chris. Thanks for all the time and lessons you share.
    Chris Zoupa
    Thanks dude. You can't put limits on yourself. There's no telling how awesome you can get if you keep pushing yourself.
    Is the start of section 2 alternate picking or economy picking?
    Chris Zoupa
    I prefer alternate. Marty could very well economy it though!
    Thanks Chris. I want to alternate the picking but my brain does not. Yeah and who knows what Marty would do? Thanks for the lesson and the help mate.
    used to think i could never play a marty solo.i was young and impatient ,the saying "slow down to speed up"i thought was ridiculous .but its absolutely true.