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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Five-note scales go way beyond the basic major and minor pentatonic forms.


Chops: Intermediate
Theory: Intermediate
Lesson Overview:
• Learn the history and formula behind pentatonic scales.
• Understand how to imply modal sounds with pentatonics.
• Create five-note scales based on Mixolydian, Lydian, and Locrian modes.


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

When someone mentions pentatonic scales, it’s easy to jump to conclusions and visualize the ubiquitous minor pentatonic scale. But think about it: “Penta” is the Greek prefix for the number five, and in this case “tonic” could be interpreted as “note.” In other words, a five-note scale ... and that leaves us with many alternatives to investigate.

There’s a good reason guitarists are most familiar with the minor pentatonic scale: It works in many different minor-key situations. Following close behind the minor pentatonic in popularity is its relative counterpart—the major pentatonic scale. But if the broad definition of pentatonic simply means “five-note scale,” shouldn’t there be some other options here? If including five different pitches is the only rule we need to abide by, then we can explore many other tonalities with this concept.

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