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Diary of a So-Called Shredder: Doom in E Minor

Combine picking techniques with the E-minor scale for big monster licks of doom.

Chops: Advanced
Theory: Intermediate
Lesson Overview:
• Embrace the inherent doom that resides in the key of E minor.
• Develop better plectrum control by combining double upstrokes and economy picking.
• Create long legato phrases that incorporate tapping.

Click here to download a printable PDF of this lesson's notation.

Hello and welcome to another installment of Diary of a So-Called Shredder.

One of my favorite things to do on guitar is to have someone else change the G string when I know it’s about to break. Then I sit and laugh when they scream in terror and howl in pain and lick the blood off their fingers. Am I wrong?

Another thing I like to do is combine techniques, sounds, and devices (such as scales and arpeggios), and throw them all into big monster licks of doom.

This month, I submit for your collective approval, just such a lick.

I call it “Doom in E Minor”—mainly because of what I mentioned previously. And also because it just makes everything sound a little cooler when you attach the word “doom” to it.

Let’s break down all this doom into more manageable steps.

We start out in Fig. 1 with a three-note-per-string E minor scale (surprise). Notice the picking—that’s what makes this part interesting. We have a double upstroke at the 15th fret on the 5th and 6th strings, then at the 14th and 15th frets on the 4th and 5th strings. We also have plenty of hammers to fill in the spaces between. This pattern continues up the neck in two-string groups until we reach the 24th fret on the 1st string. (Incidentally, I find this is a cool way to break up playing scales and avoid the typical consecutive-note problem.)

At this point, we immediately break into an old-school alternate picking lick. It’s the same pattern, moving down the top two strings. Good times.

Moving on, we zip right into a descending E minor economy-picking lick. Again, watch the double upstrokes. That’s where the magic happens.

Doom! Doom, I say!

But I digress...

Landing on the 6th string, we prepare for the last part of the ride. No time to rest, oh no. Immediately, we spring into an ascending E melodic minor scale-arpeggio-like thingy. I learned these theoretical terms at Berklee, by the way. The techniques are really important here, as we have a combination of economy picking, alternate picking, and legato. Finally, we tap our hearts out on the 1st string for some added wackiness, then finally slide to the 23rd fret and into glory.

And there you have it.

Practice slowly. Take it section by section. Start with working on each technique separately, if you’re not familiar with them. Feel the doom. Be the doom. Take the doom across your knee and spank it firmly until it giggles puckishly like a little baby chipmunk pleading to go back to the Happy Scrappy Chipmunk Forest of Things Not-So-Doom Oriented.

Terry Syrek has been teaching guitar for over 25 years and is a senior faculty member of the National Guitar Workshop. He is the author of Shred Is Not Dead and continues to punish all comers with a combination of blistering speed, over-the-top distortion, and boyish charm. For more information, visit