may 2016

In her latest lesson, virtuoso Nili Brosh analyzes techniques and approaches made famous on records from the venerated '80s record label.

Chops: Advanced
Theory: Intermediate
Lesson Overview:
• Work through sweep arpeggios in the style of Jason Becker.
• Add more chromatic notes to your improvised solos.
• Make your riffs more compelling with unexpected rhythmic subdivisions.

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

Shrapnel Records introduced the world to some of the most virtuosic rock and metal guitarists to have ever plugged into a high-gain amp. Starting in the ’80s, an era that has subsequently become infamous for guitar gods, Shrapnel’s founder Mike Varney carefully selected the cream-of-the-crop players for his unique record label.

Some Shrapnel alumni are best known for sweep picking, others for insane alternate picking, and yet others for emphasizing legato fretwork. But all of them are known for playing a lot of notes in a very musical way. What made many of these players great, in my opinion, is that each took a unique approach to playing and writing within the fairly specific “shred” genre.

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Luthier Frank Falbo on the Dos and Don’ts of building a parts guitar.


If done incorrectly, some of the procedures described in this article may result in bodily injury and/or serious damage to your project instrument. If you’re uncomfortable with any of the steps in this article, consult a professional technician for assistance.

Every day I get to make guitars from scratch—from the earliest stages full of sawdust to the final steps involving paint fumes, wet sanding, and buffing. So I must admit it was a welcome departure to be asked by Premier Guitar to show you some tips and tricks on assembling a parts guitar—because although it’s not extremely difficult, it’s also not as simple as it seems to end up with an instrument that feels, sounds, and plays like the custom guitar you hoped it would be.

To the beginners out there, forgive me if any of the ensuing text is over your heads. And to you veterans, forgive me if any of this seems condescending. I’ve tried to drive this project right down the center so there’s something in it for everyone. That said, those of you who’ve read a lot of DIY articles will quickly notice this one’s different in that we’re not following a particular order. With a parts-guitar build there’s not much need for that beyond obvious stuff like painting the body before adding hardware, mounting pots before soldering, and attaching hardware before stringing up for a test. Here we’re focusing on nuanced tricks of the trade that will help you avoid infuriating slip-ups that leave unsightly marks or result in subpar performance.

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