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May 2014
more... LessonsSound SamplesRockShredLeadScalesTabElectric ÉtudesJason Becker

Electric Etudes: Jason Becker


The track kicks off with a very melodic, clean-toned solo based around the B Aeolian (B-C#-D-E-F#-G-A-B) mode with a first inversion B minor arpeggio. It then moves into one of Becker’s signature bending ideas by moving from C# to D. In measure five, we move to a series of sweep-picked E minor arpeggios. This demonstrates one the slightly unusual ways that Becker linked shapes—check out the stretch from the 9th to the 4th fret!

Measures seven and eight move to F# and illustrate how Becker might incorporate the F# Phrygian dominant (F#-G-A#-B-C#-D-E) scale over a V-Im resolution. Over this section we use an A#dim7 arpeggio across all six strings to create an F#7b9 sound, and then traverse up the neck using inversions on the top two strings.

Guitar 2 comes in at measure 12 and harmonizes a descending A major arpeggio on the top two strings before moving to a D major arpeggio across all five strings. This section concludes with a sequence based around one version of the B Hirajoshi (B-C#-D-F#-G) scale. I kick on the distortion in measure 15 for a series of harmonized diminished 7 arpeggios that imply a strong Phrygian dominant sound. The arpeggios are grouped into quintuplets and I use some sweep picking while moving up the neck in minor third intervals. The harmony part for Guitar 2 is the same line, but transposed up a minor third.

Our melodic theme comes in at measure 17 and expands to three different guitar parts with Guitar 1 and Guitar 2 playing in octaves while Guitar 3 adds the harmony. This melody emulates some of the interplay heard between Becker and Marty Friedman, and includes legato phrasing with wide stretches and more outside-to-inside bending ideas. Guitar 1 takes over in measure 23 with a B minor pentatonic (B-D-E-F#-A) phrase that has an angular sound due to some string skipping. I conclude with a diatonic sliding figure that ascends the top two strings.

The next section emulates Becker’s flawless sweep-picking technique and shows how he would link five-string arpeggio shapes. We stick with G major and F# major arpeggios, while moving to a B minor arpeggio near the end of the section. Finally, we finish the example with a sextuplet-based, B Aeolian-infused line and conclude with some harmony squeals.

To emulate Becker’s tone, I used a Music Man Silhouette Special fitted with DiMarzio Area series single-coils in the middle and neck, and a Fast Track Hot Rail in the bridge. Becker’s clean tone sounded like a straight DI sound, so I plugged my guitar directly into my Avalon mic preamp and used the middle and neck single-coils. For the distorted tone, I used a Blackstar Series One 50-watt head feeding an isolation cab equipped with a Shure SM57 mic. This ran into an Avalon valve mic preamp, EQ, and compressor. I also used a Pro Tone signature Jason Becker Distortion pedal, which really delivers his crisp, crunchy tone. Becker’s tone had exaggerated high-end EQ that helped the lead guitar sit within the mix. I also added a healthy dose of stereo delay during the mixing process.

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