Comparing and Contrasting Guitarists

Comparing and Contrasting Guitarists

Music Extension-Study of Guitarists

The Southport School
A.J. Gazal Walker 12
A study of the techniques used by various solo guitarists.

What makes a good guitarist? Is it about the tempo they can play at, or if they can improvise and create flowing solos with seamless technique, ability to read and write music or is it simply a combination of all these attributes. Andy McKee, Steve Vai, BB King and Slash are some of the most talented guitarists of their time; yet they are all unique.

Practice makes perfect. It is true what they say, all these guitarists practice immensely to become the best at what they do. Even when incapacitated by a drug addiction Slash (Guitarist for Guns N’ Roses/Velvet Revolver) still managed to practice for hours at a time. Through practicing an exercise Slash was overheard by band mate Izzy Stradlin, who told him “I like that riff, lets make it a song”. That riff was the introduction to Sweet Child O’ Mine, the bands most well known song to this day.

Steve Vai stands from the pack when it comes to practice. On his way to becoming a guitar virtuoso Vai would practice 10 hours a day and document everything he did. Vai begun his music courier as a transcriptionist for Frank Zappa, so transcripting his workout was second nature to him. The first hour of his workout was purely devoted to technical exercises. (See Figure 1.1) The second hour to scales and the third was devoted to what he referred to as “some chord thing”. The chord thing consisted of various chords, which would test the stretch of Vai’s fingers; such as Gmaj7 Gmaj7/B Gmaj7/D Gmaj7/F# (See Figure 1.2). He would repeat this work out three times.

Figure 1.1 (Above)

Figure 1.2 (Below)

What made Vai such a musical soloist is his knowledge of the modes as well as harmonic and melodic scales. Vai would play all seven modes. (See Figure 1.3) Vai wouldn’t play the modes up and down; he was not that simple. He would play all the modes in every position; take...

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