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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