Yes that's right, the title said classical. No this
isn't some boring lesson on how to write classical music
like Bach. Instead, we're going to take Bach and give
him an extreme makover. In this lesson, you are going to
learn how to apply classical techniques into a daily
practice routine that will make you sound like a pro.
Neoclassical guitar is the new age classical. It
involves coordination, fast hands, and some amazing
scales and riffs. If you are looking to be inspired or
put in awe by some neoclassical guitarist, take a look
at some of Yngwie J Malmsteen's songs. He has been the
pioneer of this new phenomena and has been building an
impressive repertoire of music for decades.
Neoclassical music became known in the early 80's.
Before that point, metal and shred guitar weren't as
mainstream as genres such as rock. Then, some guitarists
such as Malmsteen took a leap of faith and started
combining classical sounds into their hard metal songs.
They took the best of two genres and combined them to
create neoclassical shred guitar.
You need to understand that neoclassical isn't just
classical music. "Neoclassic" typically refers (as a
definition by most guitarists) to "neoclassic rock /
metal", not "current classical music". We're talking
about metal, influenced by classical music melodies. So
don't worry, you're going to be rocking...hard and fast.
Now here's the fun part, regardless of your taste in
music, learning neoclassical shred guitar can assist you
in becoming the best lead guitarist in your town. The
reason for this is found in the various techniques
utilized while playing shred guitar. Once you get a few
of these techniques down, you'll have no trouble
impressing your neighbors.
If you haven't picked this up yet, shred guitar is
fast... Ok, that's an understatement. This is why it's
so important to use a metronome. A metronome is a little
box that ticks and yes, they are usually over priced.
Why would you want to get one of these over priced
tickers? Well, for starters, your health and mental well
For most people, the sound of a click every few seconds
would slowly drive them insane. For a musician, it's
their key to success. It allows you to keep time. Start
a riff slow and build it up until it's lightning fast.
Not only will this make you sound good and make learning
the riff easier, it will protect your hands from damage.
If you start playing something extremely fast right
away, you risk burning out your hands. By starting slow
and working your way up, your hands will do a much
better job playing the correct notes.
Another reason to use a metronome is phrasing. Phrasing
is how you play the riff while speed simply deals with
tempo. If you can play each note for the correct amount
of time, then switch seamlessly to another string or
part of the neck, you will play the music correctly and
sound good. However, if you play the notes sloppy, you
will come across as not being prepared. Which would you
prefer? The only way to get perfect phrasing when you're
starting out on guitar is by using a metronome.
The scales used in neoclassical shred revolve around the
minor scales and modes. In particular, melodic and
harmonic minor scales are utilized to give a more regal,
classical feel to the music. Let's start by running
through E Natural Minor to warm-up.
E Natural Minor
Note: Bold numbers above tab are for fingerings.
Now we'll take the above E natural minor and make some
adjustments to create the melodic and harmonic minor
scales. Remember, all of these scales are 100% movable.
Use the first note of each scale and move the scale up
and down your low E string. This allows you to play in
E Melodic Minor
E Harmonic Minor
...See how the harmonic minor scale is similar to the
natural minor scale? There is only one note that is
different. This makes switching between natural minor
and harmonic minor a breeze while playing.
Run through each scale slowly. Pay attention to all of
the details and memorize the pattern. Try moving
everything up or down a few frets. You want to
experiment as much as possible and get used to playing
in a minor key.
Alternate picking is a technique where you alternate
your pick strokes. All too often, guitarists who are
just starting out will use nothing but down strokes to
pick their notes. To gain speed, and to sound better,
try alternating between down strokes and up strokes.
After you play a down stroke to sound a note, use an up
stroke to play the next note. Then alternate between the
This may seem like a simple concept, but it can get
pretty tricky when you start dealing with string
skipping and moving around the fretboard. Try using this
simple C Major scale to alternate your picking:
...The reason why it's so important for you to master
the art of alternate picking is due to speed. It is
almost impossible to gain lightning fast speed in shred
guitar without the use of alternate picking. The only
other option is to tap out the notes, but we won't be
covering that technique in this lesson.
Try focusing your attention on one note, let's say 12th
fret E on your high E string. Start to alternate your
picking on this note. Start slow and gradually build up
speed. Eventually you will get this:
... If you're having problems getting that speed, keep
practicing. Another tip is to use a hard pick and hold
it at a slight angle to the strings. In other words,
don't hold it flat like you usually would for strumming.
This slight 20 or 30 degree angle will help you "attack"
the note and enable you to play it faster.
Neoclassical shred guitar has a very distinct sound that
comes from various distortion and overdrive pedals. Some
of the most popular pedals used in this genre of music
include the following: