Justin Derrico’s “Fricken Chicken” Workout

February 7, 2012

Justin Derrico’s debut solo record, Boldly Going Nowhere, features blazing guitar work from start to finish. The tune “Fricken Chicken” shows Derrico’s debt to Brent Mason and is a great showcase of his hybrid-picking skills, unorthodox note choices, and quirky chromaticism.

“I try to target some chord tones on the downbeats,” he says as he tears into the tune’s head in Ex. 1. The picking-hand indications are more or less what Derrico does, but the main rule is use whatever combination of flatpick, middle finger, ring finger, and hammers and pulls that feels most natural to you, because that’s the only way you’ll get the pattern up to the breakneck speed required. He employs a pick-middle-ring banjo roll to arpeggiate the Bb and C power chords in the first ending, but because of the phrasing you could also use your plectrum for the first two notes. For the second ending, however, banjo rolls are your only hope.

Ex. 2 is a hybrid-picked hybrid scale approach to the solo. “This is a scale I like to use. It’s basically a Mixolydian scale with a b3 and a b5,” he explains. The chart shows double-stops for the first phrase, but the tempo makes that tough to do up to speed. Once you have the pattern under your fingers, though, it sounds great to keep the high G ringing with your middle finger as you pick through the rest of the scale. Ex. 2 also demonstrates Derrico’s penchant for throwing in chromaticism as well as changing direction in a run. “I’m still thinking G7,” he explains, “but you can get away with a lot of cool, weird notes over a dominant chord so long as you land on a chord tone.”

He takes that approach to the extreme in Ex. 3, a crazy, clown-car ride that hits just about every note in the scale. “I call this the Slip Trick,” he says. “It’s a cool pattern that sounds outside, but it’s really nothing but a trick. It kind of comes from the Eddie Van Halen school of getting from point A to point B. It’s all about how you start it and end it.” Although it’s notated in G here, Derrico plays the Slip Trick in A in the accompanying video. Once you get the pattern down, however, you can do it anywhere. Here’s how it works: Slide into the root G from a half-step below with your 1st finger, and then use fingers 4, 3, and 1 on the B string (on frets 6, 5, and 3) before sliding down a fret with your 1st finger. Then, use the exact same fingering on the G string (now on frets 5, 4, and 2) before sliding up a fret to repeat the pattern on the remaining strings. Although it might seem weird at first, get this trick dialed—seriously! As EVH would say, it’s a great way to fall down the stairs and land on your feet in a solo.

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