Learn A Song : Iron Maiden - 'Aces High' Guitar Solo Lesson With Chris Zoupa

Standard tuning: E A D G B E

Level: Intermediate

I've always loved this song. I just think the chorus is great. It's the kind of chorus you sing really loudly whilst quite intoxicated and embarrass your girlfriend in front of her friends and family.

The solo in this song starts in "A" minor and has a key change half way through to "B" minor, but there's nothing too crazy about it. It mainly uses pentatonic scales and a couple of fast hammer on and pull off licks. As usual we'll break the solo down into problematic sections. I'll leave a tab for the solo and a link to the YouTube lesson at the bottom of the article. 

Section 1 Tips

The first section of this solo is heavily based around an "A" minor pentatonic. It's not ridiculously hard to play, however the phrasing and emphasis is pretty important. Let's take a look at the most challenging lick in this section (see excerpt below).

The pulloffs in this lick aren't too problematic, but pay close attention when you have to back track to a previous string.

Section 2 Tips

This section deals with some pretty fast pulloffs on the 1st string, but it's actually not too technical. With enough work you guys should be able to get this lick up to speed in no time. Let's take a look at the lick (see excerpt below).

As you can see we're picking one note for every triplet semiquaver. Keep in mind that it's all on one string and try to stay on the pulse of where all the picks are supposed to be. I also found that using just my ring and index for this worked better and never got the pinky involved. Try messing around with a few different finger options to find what would work best for you to play a one string legato lick like this to speed.

Section 3 Tips

The 3rd section is where the "B" minor key change kicks in and a lot of open 2nd string action occurs. I kind of think of the main lick of this section as somewhat reminiscent of AC/DC's "Thunderstruck" but with a bit more pull off action (see excerpt below). 

As you can see every second note is being pulled off to an open note which makes this lick sound very fast. Even though we're working through what sounds like a very busy semiquaver phrase it's actually not that difficult after a few practices of the lick. Keep in mind the pulloffs are where you alternate back pick would be so you can actually play this phrase all down picked!

Section 4 Tips

The final section of this solo begins with a really interesting use of the "B" minor pentatonic with an added flat 5th (D#) and a Dorian/sharp 6th (G#). Let's think of this as a pentatonic with a few extra notes for spicy flavour and additional win (see diagram below).

Once you get you head around the shape and sound try apply it into your own playing when you have the key or melodic wiggle room to do so... Now back to "Aces High"! Let's take a look at this troublesome lick from section 4 (see excerpt below)!

This lick is a bit all over the place with slides and legato, however it sounds awesome and adds heaps to the phrasing. Take you time with this and pay close attention to interesting nuances and if you can try putting these kind of flavours into your own playing to spice up the old "meat and veg" pentatonic.

Have fun with this one guys and happy shredding!

Download tab here.

By Chris Zoupa


Ashutosh Pande
Ashutosh Pande

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