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There's a Freight Train Comin'

By Lessons No Comments

This lesson appeared originally as a master class at

It’s always exciting to get your hands on something you can’t get anywhere else. So as a measure of thanks to Joel Wanasek for inviting me to do a guest column at, I offer up a transcription you won’t find anywhere else on the internet. It’s none other than the guitar solo to Nitro’s Freight Train, the most over-the-top ’80s metal song you never heard. Read More

Yngwie Malmsteen: Now Your Ships Are Burned

By Lessons 14 Comments

When they named it shred, this is the song they were thinking of:  soaring leads, piercing vibrato, weepy tremolo, slippery legato, and ferocious picking, simmering over a roiling cauldron of drum and bass that’s almost as funky as it is angry.  We’re talking about Now Your Ships Are Burned, the third track from Yngwie Malmsteen’s watershed 1984 album, Rising Force. Read More

Michael Angelo: The Art of Playing Lightning Fast

By Lessons 2 Comments

My favorite parts of Michael Angelo‘s seminal instructional video Speed Kills are the impromptu, undocumented solos that pop up occasionally throughout the DVD. There are precisely four of them, and I like to think of them as being named by the huggably cheesy dialogue that invariably surrounds them. If you’re familiar with the video, you might recognize such basement-tape classics as The Art of Playing Lightning Fast, The Keys to the Lamborghini, You Can Just Kick Back, and Tendonitis. Read More

The Science of Slow

By Lessons 3 Comments

Got Caught Stealing Once, When I Was Five

Back when I was learning to play in the late ’80s, I used a Casio SK-1 to steal licks off records. For those who are not familiar with the SK-1, this thing was basically a miracle.

It’s a 31-note keyboard with a built-in sampling function. Press the “sample” button, and it would record exactly 1.4 seconds of whatever you threw at its little microphone. Pressing middle “A” on the keyboard played back the sample at actual pitch and speed. Press the next lower “A”, and you heard the sample one octave lower and at half-speed. And so on. Read More