A gateway into some of the most recognizable Vai-isms.
·Develop a deeper sense of subdivisions.
·Learn how to combine odd groupings.
·Perfect the “Yngwie” pattern.
I had the pleasure of taking part in a project a couple of years back breaking down Steve Vai’s playing on David Lee Roth’s Eat Em and Smile album. Safe to say my fingers were fried after three months of practicing, but there were so many creative ideas to learn from. Late ’80s and early ’90s Vai is really something to behold, as he was featured in huge bands and changed the face of instrumental guitar. I want to look at some technical aspects of what he would do in terms of linear lines and expressions. My hope is that by learning them, you can take them and make them your own. Let’s dive in!
Ex. 1 is a classic Vai-ism in D minor. It’s a descending line loosely based around a series of triads with a few extra bits put in. The first beat centers on a D minor triad (D–F–A), the second beat hovers around a B diminished triad (B–D–F), and the third beat uses an A minor triad (A–C–E) to give a V-I pull back to the root note on beat 4. I love the idea of the two-note pull-off followed by a slide to transition between the cells.
Ex. 2 is similar to Ex. 1 in terms of layout, however there are a few twists. Most notably with the two-note-per-string hammer-ons shifting down two positions. This legato “smear” of notes is a trademark Vai-ism that pops up in tons of his solos and improvisations. We finish the line with a huge position shift down to a G Minor pentatonic pull-off phrase. A notable ornament of Vai’s spectacular playing.
Vai and Joe Satriani share a lot of common ground in terms of legato playing. They are known for taking three-note-per-string phrases and cramming notes into the beat for a cool washy sound. However, Vai sometimes would really focus on the odd subdivisions that these patterns would create. A sure sign of the influence Allan Holdsworth had with his angular-sounding lines. In Ex. 3 you can see how I would approach this by combining sextuplets with septuplets.
Ex. 4 is another legato run in E minor. However, this time we’re adding a tapped note at the 12th fret on each string at the top of each legato “roll.” Don’t be alarmed by the subdivisions in the transcription, these are more of a “pointer” towards the groupings. My performance note would be to practice this slowly as eighth-notes or slow 16th-notes before speeding up. Then when things are ticking along well, just go for it!
This phrase (Ex. 5) opens with a rather unique sequence for Vai: a five-note pattern played over a 16th-note rhythm. You can hear this pattern on some of his Alcatrazz material, and within the tapping runs in solos such as “Big Trouble.” The quintuplet uses notes from A minor pentatonic (A–C–D–E–G) spread out over two positions. Each pattern starts with a tapped note before pulling off to a chord tone. Then, I skip a string and play a descending three-note group. I continue this up to the top string before descending a line based around an Fmaj9 arpeggio (F–A–C–E–G).
Vai has some ferocious picking runs and when I hear Guthrie Govan go into full-on shred mode I can most notably hear the Vai influence on him. Ex. 6 features an ascending run of sextuplets in A minor. This phrase features mostly ascending notes on each string until the last two beats where we run into an Al Di Meola/Paul Gilbert-style pattern.
Ex. 7 is a flurry of notes, however there is some sense to how they are played. Keep in mind that this is phrased with three-note-per-string patterns. If we dissect the fingerings a bit, I use the classic “Yngwie” pattern of six to kick things off and then I use three groups of seven before wrapping with three groups of five. Don’t think of these in relationship to the beat, but more for just “building” the run. Practice with even 16ths or eighth-notes at first. When it comes to playing it at full speed, pick like the wind!
These unusual, almost symmetrical, patterns turn up in all kinds of places in Vai’s playing. Ex. 8 is a fun Vai phrase that outlines a series of minor 11 arpeggios. Each pattern is identical, so it’s best to play this with sweep picking and aim for an even feel. Try saying the word “hippopotamus” when playing through quintuplets to line up the syllables with the subdivisions. When Vai plays these, he lets them blur slightly, turning them into sheets of sound. Or sometimes he uses them to simply highlight the top note by sweeping so fast that it’s almost inaudible—in a cool way!
So there we have it, eight technical linear lines inspired by the amazing Steve Vai. Learning lines from your favorite artists is good, but it really starts to count when you take away the concepts and re-shape them your own way. Vai is a well of inspiration for tons of guitarists. Long may he continue!
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Recreating the preamp in Silvertone’ssignature ’60s amp results in a surprisingly multifaceted overdrive.
Great drive sounds, ranging from characterful boost to low-gain overdrive. Unique personality. Powerful, flexible EQ.
Arguably a bit expensive for what it does.
Jackson Audio Silvertone 1484 Twin Twelve
Once harvested for peanuts at garage sales and pawn shops—or free for lucky dumpster divers—the Silvertone Model 1484 Twin Twelve amplifier of 1963-’67 graduated to legend status over the past couple decades. Like a lot of ’60s gear with department store catalog origins, Silvertone amps and guitars provided great bang for the buck when they were new. But perhaps no Silvertone product—apart from the company’s Danelectro-built guitars—is as revered as the Twin Twelve. Mudhoney’s Mark Arm and Steve Turner discovered their charms early in their career, and Twin Twelves and their siblings remained backline fixtures for punks, garage rockers, and indie kids. But once the likes of Jack White and Dan Auerbach got on board, the market heated up considerably.
Now a collaboration between the revived Silvertone Guitars and Jackson Audio brings us the Twin Twelve pedal, an overdrive/EQ/booster designed to replicate the tone of the original 1484 piggyback tube amp. To accomplish this, Jackson essentially recreated the topology of the 1484’s preamp, effectively replacing vacuum tubes with JFETs. This method is common for many amp-in-a-box-style pedals. But the result here is a drive of many personalities.
Listen to the demo: https://soundcloud.com/premierguitar/sets/twin-twelve-review
The 1484 pedal does a beautiful job of evoking the look of the original 1484 amplifier, including the silver control panel, simple and elegant black lettering, black knobs with silver insets and red indicator lines, red amp-style jewel light, and even the humorous “Foot Switch” legend over the footswitch. What’s more, this pedal seems built to fend off home invaders and stage divers. It’s notably hefty in its heavy-duty folded-steel chassis, which measures 5" x 4" x 2".
Controls include treble, bass, volume, and gain—the latter of which never appeared on the original amp. A look inside the enclosure reveals a lot of space and few components. Juice comes from 9V DC that hits an internal voltage-doubler to improve headroom.
I tested the Twin Twelve pedal with a Fender Princeton combo and a 65amps London head and 2x12 cab as well as a Gibson Les Paul with humbuckers and a ’50s-style Fender Telecaster, and the first impressions were surprising. Expecting a characterfully sludgy mud machine and grungy pawnshop sonics, I experienced instead a toothsome and impressively versatile overdrive that works in a broad range of genres and playing styles. Fundamentally speaking, the Twin Twelve adds lots of character via a combination of thickness and edgy harmonic content. There’s a barky midrange bite that calls to mind the voice of many catalog amps. But it also has a lot in common with low-gain overdrives, like the Klon and Tube Screamer. Those similarities aside, it has a flavor and sound all its own.
Expecting a characterfully sludgy mud machine and grungy pawnshop sonics, I experienced instead a toothsome and impressively versatile overdrive that works in a broad range of genres and playing styles.
Silvertone may talk a lot about the 1484 as an exact recreation of the Twin Twelve circuit. But in some ways that might sell this pedal short. It’s a great-sounding overdrive by any measure. And, interestingly, it is better at generating American-toned twang, bite, crunch, and lead tones than just about any pedal I’ve played in a while. Clarity and articulation are good, and it makes a great clean boost at lower drive settings while retaining amp-like personality and sensitivity. The pedal is made even more flexible thanks to the 2-band EQ, which provides a lot of room for cutting and boosting the low- and high-frequency bands to taste. It means you have a very flexible boost before you even push your amp into overdrive. It pays similar dividends in overdriven settings, enabling players to explore both the dirtier, thicker side of the American amp tone spectrum or more sparkling variations.
The 1484 Twin Twelve is a great overdrive pedal. And the fact that it doesn’t simply clone one of the already popular drive circuits is a major bonus. The EQ is a great asset, too. But while the 1484 excels at capturing the spirit of the amp that inspired it, I’d argue that with most decent tube amps it sounds better than many real Twin Twelves I’ve played. Certainly, it’s more versatile. And that combination of tone and flexibility make it a very appealing overdrive alternative.
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About Mystery Stocking
Each year, Premier Guitar likes to put out these mystery boxes as a part of bringing some fun to the holiday season. Remember, this is supposed to be a fun holiday treat! If the contents of this box will ruin your holiday, deplete the last of your bank account, or end your ability to see the good in humanity, it may not be for you.
- This year's Mystery Stocking will cost $44.95. ($39.95 + $5 Flat shipping)
- Each box will be guaranteed to contain $40 or more in value.
- US only. (Sorry World.)
- Make sure your shipping address is correct.
- Have your credit card ready to go before you refresh the page. Paypal is not available. Autofill may not fill in your information.
- There will be NO REFUNDS given.
- There has been a huge demand for these in the past. We really did sell out in less than 4 minutes last year. When they are gone, they are gone.
- One per household, one per person.
Q: What's in the Mystery Stocking?
A: It wouldn't be much of a surprise if we told you, now would it?
Q: Will I definitely get my money worth?
Q: Can I return it if I don't like it?
A: Nope. All sales final.
Q: What if I live outside the US?
A: Sorry, US only.
Q. How much is it?
A. $39.95 Plus $5 shipping
Q. When will it ship?
A. On or before December 10, 2022.
Q. What form of payment do you accept?
A. Credit cards only. Sorry, no Paypal for this.
Q. Can I ship to a different location than my billing address?
Q. I tried last year and didn't get one. Will I get one this year?
A. There is an overwhelming demand for Mystery Stocking. Be sure you have a fast internet connection and be ready when they go on sale. Last year we sold out in 3 min 33 seconds.
Q. I want to buy 5. How can I buy 5?
A. You can't. This year, we're limiting to one per household, so more people can get in on the fun!
Featuring the Adaptive Circuitry recently introduced on their Halcyon Green Overdrive, Origin Effects have brought us a pedal with a character all of its own and a new flavor of drive.
Origin Effects introduce the new M-EQ DRIVER mid booster & drive pedal. Based on a vintage Pultec studio EQ, this unique pedal offers a range of mid-focused tones, from a subtle mid boost to thick, resonant overdrive. Featuring the Adaptive Circuitry recently introduced on their Halcyon Green Overdrive, Origin Effects have brought us a pedal with a character all of its own and a new flavor of drive.
A choice of three mid-range frequencies ensures that you can boost just the right part of your guitar signal and, when pushed harder, can elicit a range of saturation from a classic “mid-hump” overdrive to fierce “cocked wah” distortion. Thanks to the Adaptive Circuitry, the high-end roll-off of the Cut control is reduced as the pedal cleans up. This allows for a smooth transition from warm overdrive to bright clean tones in response to playing dynamics or guitar volume knob changes.
Introducing... M-EQ DRIVER || Mid Booster & Drive
Built-in the UK to the highest standards, the M-EQ DRIVER continues the Origin Effects tradition of vintage, studio-inspired tones in modern guitar pedals. The Origin Effects M-EQ DRIVER is available now from Origin Effects dealers worldwide.
RRP: 259 GBP (Inc VAT) / 319 USD (Ex TAX)
For more information, please visit origineffects.com.