Diatonic Shredding with Gus G of Firewind

October 1, 2009

GUS G. IS THE LEAD GUITARIST AND songwriter for the Greek power metal band Firewind. He has also played in Arch Enemy, Mystic Prophecy, Nightrage, and Dream Evil. Although Gus has the chops to shred the neck effortlessly, he never wanted to be one of what he calls “bedroom warriors,” guys who sit in their room trying to play as fast as they can to post a video on YouTube. He aspires to write solos that people will listen to for years to come. His philosophy on creating a solo is to take the listener on a journey with a beginning, middle, and end. With this mindset he has emerged as one of the great new metal guitarists.

In this lesson, I want to show you a section inspired by the lead from the Firewind song “Head Up High” from their CD The Premonition. Gus shreds this riff with the technical ability of the elite, but finds a way to add finesse and feel to the mix, creating a wellrounded yet challenging lead. The first section in Ex. 1 is an A minor scale pattern moving up diatonically with the chords changes. The chord progression he plays over is Am-F-Dm- Em7-Am-F-Dm-E. Be sure to use alternate picking and start off slow while learning this section, because it is blazing fast and you’ll need precise picking to keep up. In Ex. 2, the section ends with a riff ascending up the first four strings followed by a two-string descending lateral run.

In Ex. 3, check out how this lead ends with a descending diminished run on the first string—three riffs played back to back symmetrically, moving down a minor third (or three frets) at a time. This is not an easy one to play because your hand has to span six frets for each position. The entire lead is constant sixteenth-notes and is a great technical exercise, so get your metronome out and get your shred on.

John McCarthy is the creator of the Rock House Method.

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