11 Marshall masters: essential licks from Hendrix to Vai
IntroductionNo survey of the Marshall stack’s five-decade reign would be complete without honouring the players who have made them howl like fallen angels. Here, we present 11 essential licks in the style of 11 masters of the big black box. The licks we’ve presented here trace the development of rock technique in the hands of key players as it developed in step with the ever-increasing shovelfuls of gain available from Marshall’s ever-evolving amps. Certainly, there are many more legendary guitarists we could have included - Angus Young and Zakk Wylde come to mind - but getting these licks under your fingers will help you master the principles of getting air moving while retaining articulation, feel and speed. And while unleashing what guitarist Joel O’Keeffe of Airbourne called “the Marshall wind” is a rite-of-passage experience for any guitarist, any decent high-gain head and closed-back cab will do the trick for getting to grips with the full girth and grunt of these examples, so plug in, turn on and rock out.
Ex1 Jimi HendrixYou can’t talk about Marshall stacks without mentioning the man who did more work stress-testing them than most Marshall employees! This lick uses E minor pentatonic (E G A B D) and there are a couple of things to listen out for. Push the G to A bend (bar 3) a bit sharp, almost to the Bb. Then, while holding that last B-string bend in bar 4, catch the G string under your finger and release it.
Ex2 Randy Rhoads
His career was tragically cut short in 1982, but Randy was a hugely important player in the time between Van Halen and Yngwie, combining an elegant classically influenced melodic sense with meaty classic-rock licks. Remember, you don’t have to play these licks over the suggested chords. Be creative!