advanced

Progressive metal’s most influential guitarist combines immaculate picking technique with aggressive tones to create the most technically demanding licks around.



Chops: Advanced
Theory: Advanced
Lesson Overview:
• Gain a deeper understanding of complex, shifting time signatures.
• Learn fast-paced, alternate-picked riffs.
• Create phrases that use legato, sweeping, tapping, and alternate picking. Click here to download a printable PDF of this lesson's notation.

Formed in 1985 at Boston's Berklee College of Music by drummer Mike Portnoy, bassist John Myung, and guitarist John Petrucci, Dream Theater continues to be one of the titans of progressive rock and metal. While the group would consist of this basic trio at the core until Portnoy left in 2008, over the years they've had a handful of keyboard players and several vocalists. (Current keyboardist Jordan Rudess has been in the band since 1999, and singer James LaBrie has been in the fold since the band's second album, released in 1991.)

There's no disputing that Dream Theater is the quintessential prog band for fans of proficient instrumental skills and metal. For over 30 years, Petrucci's trademark style has influenced generations of players through the group's 13 full-length studio albums. The band's sound has evolved a lot over the years, from the softer rock albums like Falling into Infinity, to the classic prog-rock of Images and Words, grand concept albums like Octavarium, and heavy metal shred-fests like Train of Thought. Each one is underpinned by Petrucci's astonishing technique. He's developed into an absolute master of picking, legato phrases, sweeping, tapping, and more.

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Look beyond playing the “right” notes.

Chops: Advanced
Theory: Intermediate
Lesson Overview:
• Understand how to phrase “outside” notes.
• Learn how to add tension to speedy passages.
• Strengthen your alternate-picking technique. Click here to download a printable PDF of this lesson's notation.

In my earlier years as a guitarist, I was intimidated by the idea of expanding musical lines with notes that weren’t in the scale that was diatonic to the progression or chord I was playing over. What helped me get pass this fear? Studying how some of my favorite players incorporate non-diatonic notes in a systematic way. In this lesson, I’ll share some of the ideas I discovered. We’ll explore the concept of chromatic playing and see how you can include non-diatonic notes in your phrases. I’ll examine how a couple of my favorite players have used the chromatic concept—Steve Morse (Dixie Dregs and Deep Purple) and Ian Thornley (Big Wreck). I’ll also show you an example of how I incorporated chromatic playing into a solo from one of the songs on my latest album. Okay, let’s get started.

First off, let’s define the term chromatic. A quick internet search gives us this definition: Music relating to or using notes not belonging to the diatonic scale of the key in which a passage is written.

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We’re all on the same journey—to become better at guitar. Each week we post a lesson that helps you get closer to that goal. This year we covered everything from basic triads and pentatonics to Brad Paisley’s warp-speed picking and Eric Gales’ inventive chord voicings. Here’s a look at the 10 most popular lessons in 2022.
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