Eddie Van Halen

“Eruption”—it remains unsurpassed as the ultimate hard rock guitar cadenza, and in this issue (which featured EVH’s cover story, “My Tips For Beginners”), future GP cover artist Steve Vai transcribed the instrumental’s molten maneuvers note-for note. The excerpt below presents the light-speed bursts of A-minor pentatonicism [0:47-0:53] that open the song’s third “movement.”

The beautiful thing about these and other signature Van Halen passages is how easy they are to play fast—once you’ve internalized the moves. (Low action and a white-hot lead tone will help.) These phrases get their magic from a commonplace 1st-finger/3rd-finger, fifth-position A-minor pentatonic stance that uses convenient pull-offs to open strings for a most uncommon migration up the neck. (Note: There are other fretting options, but no fingering is more simple and intuitive than the one presented in the tablature here.) Bar lines would only be confusing, so we left ’em out.