Diatonic sequences are powerful tools. Here’s how to use them wisely.



• Understand how to map out the neck in seven positions.
• Learn to combine legato and picking to create long phrases.
• Develop a smooth attack—even at high speeds.

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Knowing how to function in different keys is crucial to improvising in any context. One path to fretboard mastery is learning how to move through positions across the neck. Even something as simple as a three-note-per-string major scale can offer loads of options when it’s time to step up and rip. I’m going to outline seven technical sequences, each one focusing on a position of a diatonic major scale. This should provide a fun workout for the fingers and hopefully inspire a few licks of your own.
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Photo by Neil Lim Sang

So how exactly does the undisputed king of neo-classical shred do his thing? It’s mostly a combination of magic, dragons, and some hellacious picking.



• Create neo-classical licks using pedal points.

• Decode Yngwie's signature picking style.

• Learn how to use the harmonic minor and Phrygian dominant scales.

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A household name in the guitar and metal community, Yngwie Malmsteen is known for his stunning technique, incredible vibrato, stage presence, love of Ferraris, and of course, popularizing the neo-classical shred side of hard rock and metal. I'm a big fan of Yngwie and am honored to bring you this lesson on his highly influential 1986 album, Trilogy. This was Yngwie's third solo album and featured some truly epic artwork of Yngwie fighting a three-headed dragon on a mountaintop with his Strat.

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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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