Andy James shred guitar lesson

By December 14, 2015

Lightning licks from the speed maestro

Andy rounds off his lessons by sharing more of the secrets that have earned him a reputation as one of the world's most formidable shredders. In his final lesson Andy kicks things off by playing a one-bar rock lick. It's a simple line, even though Andy plays at a ferocious speed (you can play at any tempo you like). Once you have the sequence of notes under your fingers the next two licks should make sense because they follow essentially the same pattern, just using different scales. It's a great way to get more mileage out of just one lead idea. Andy rounds things off with two awesome shred lines. the first is a classically-tinged harmonic minor lick with the notes played along the length of the strings, rather than in scale positions.

It is the easier of the two licks but it is still a challenge for both your visual perception and your hands, so take it slow at first. Andy's final lick is another face-melter, with arpeggios and an octave-tapped descending minor pentatonic closing phrase. Your aim here is to connect all the techniques together smoothly so practise slowly and accurately.

One sequence, three licks - Dorian

This lick sets out the basic sequence that the next two phrases also follow. For this first line keep your first finger at the 11th fret, your second finger at the 12th fret and your fourth finger at the 14th fret. Notice as you repeat that you play eight notes on each string. Try to memorise the pattern to prepare for the next two lines. One sequence, three licks - Dorian tab (right-click to download)

One sequence, three licks - Pentatonic

The fingering and picking patterns for this lick are essentially the same as the Dorian lick, but this time the notes are configured for the E minor pentatonic scale. You'll probably notice there is a bit more of a stretch here. Start each new string with an upstroke and focus on keeping the idle third string quiet. One sequence, three licks - Pentatonic tab (right-click to download)

One sequence, three licks - Diminished

Once again this lick uses the same eight-notes-per-string pattern used in the previous two examples, but here you need to spread your fingers out for a three-fret stretch. Keep your fret-hand thumb low on the back of the neck and point it towards the headstock to help relax your hand and fingers. One sequence, three licks - Diminished tab (right-click to download)

Alternate picking tips

Andy goes on to explain his alternate picking approach. This lick is played in a six-note-per-string pattern with the focus on starting each string with an upstroke. Once you feel comfortable with synchronising your two hands, try applying the same pattern to other scale shapes you know. Alternate picking tips tab (right-click to download)

Pedalling shred lick

This lick is based in the E harmonic minor scale (E F# G A B C D#) using the open first and second strings as 'pedal' notes. This simply means these notes repeat as other notes change. It doesn't matter if you start on an upstroke or a downstroke, but whichever one you choose, be sure to use strict alternate picking throughout. Pedalling shred lick tab (right-click to download)

Tapped shred lick

Play through the opening arpeggio using a combination of picking and hammer-ons keeping all the notes the same volume. Keep hold of your pick as usual and tap at the 24th fret with your second finger as you reach bar 2. As you descend it can be tricky to keep the strings quiet; Andy uses a string mute near the nut to help.

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