Jason Becker Lesson: How to Play "Perpetual Burn"

Jason Becker
(Image credit: Ross Pelton)

There are some great covers of my song “Perpetual Burn” out there. Check out Jeff Loomis’ version on YouTube. Alexandra Zerner also has a nice one. I notice that some people have a little trouble figuring out the intro licks, though. That is understandable, because I didn’t play them completely clean. 

My lame excuse for that is that the amp was feeding back a lot between the licks, so instead of having silence between each one, I had to use the bar. 

I had to change my way of thinking about this part, which is what you have to do sometimes. Marty Friedman used to say, “A craftsman never blames his tools.” I totally agree with that. 

Many people have excuses for why they aren’t kicking ass. I find that some of the time, it is just that they haven’t practiced enough. Try to be good on any guitar and amp.

(Image credit: Jason Becker)

(Image credit: Jason Becker)

(Image credit: Jason Becker)

The first arpeggio is actually just a pentatonic scale with a couple notes taken out; the high and the lower A. The second one is the same thing, only each note changes to C. It is a tidy little shape for your fingers. The third one is just some weird notes that sounded good to my ears. At the time, I got off on strange note choices that would throw the listener for a loop.

Why do I like arpeggios so much? Well, it started with being good at playing them. I still use them for composing though, because they contain many parts of music in themselves. They have the chords, melody, and rhythm all in one line or idea. They have kind of become part of my sound and style.

You know, I tease myself for not playing this intro cleanly, but I am not really worried about it. Many players spend hours every day trying to get as clean as possible. Playing clean is great, but getting a vibe and attitude is even more important.

Imagine if Jimmy Page had put all of his attention into nailing each note rather than having that creative spontaneity. He wouldn’t be the Page that we love. On the other hand, we all aren’t Page, and so many players today have a self-righteous sloppy style with no magic or musicality. 

I mean, it isn’t always about “practice, practice, practice,” but it also isn’t only about thinking your personality is more important than the music. A nice mix of the two is best.

If you want to hear the demo version of Perpetual Burn, which has this part – near the end of the song – played cleaner and how I originally intended, check it out on my CD The Blackberry Jams.