What are some of the things you remember practicing that really
focused on developing your right hand?
Here’s the funny thing: I never did the "practicing" thing.
I just sort of played. If I could play something legato [Fig. 1A],
I’d want to be able to play exactly the same thing with the right hand [Fig. 1B], completely coordinated and clean.
I also remember that at some point, I got kind of bored with guitar
players that played things like this [Fig. 2A], so I thought up
different variations, like this [Fig. 2B]. It’s kind of a long
stretch with your hand, but it’s all on one string. You can also do
something like this [Fig. 2C]; the possibilities are endless.
But I don’t think that I had any particular practice approach.
Sometimes I’d play through scales, and then I’d do the arpeggios
afterward, different string-skipping and all that stuff. But I never
really had a particular thing–one or two different warmups or anything
like that. It was just "playing," really. I know it’s stupid,
but it’s true [laughs].
You must’ve "just played" a lot.
Yeah. I improvised all the time.
You’re single-handedly responsible for introducing a lot of classical
motifs into the modern rock guitar vocabulary. Can we go over some of your
You mean, for instance, the arpeggios [Fig. 3A]? That’s a
trademark, two-octave A minor arpeggio. And you can actually add the minor
3rd, C (20th fret, 1st string), by tapping with your right hand [Fig.
3B]. I do something crazy like that on "Playing with Fire"
On the subject of arpeggios, if you’re playing in A minor, and
you’re going to do one of your patented diminished arpeggio runs…
Yeah, I might play a G#dim7 arpeggio to give it that harmonic minor
sound. It all depends on what effect you want. You can start off on G# or
B, and it can go up like this, for instance [Fig. 4]. The
diminished arpeggio is very dramatic.
Now how about some pedal tones?
Like Bach? You can do a pedal on the E string like this [Figs. 5A-B],
but there are a lot of different things you can do using that approach [Fig.
And then, to finish it off, you can plug in a harmonic minor run [Fig.
6]. That stuff is all over Alchemy,actually.