AS METAL HAS EVOLVED, THERE HAS BEEN a trend toward lowered tunings. In an effort to make their music sound deeper and darker, many guitarists have turned to alternate and dropped tunings, as well as 7-string guitars. Buz McGrath, lead guitarist of the metal band Unearth, has been slinging his 7-string on stage for over ten years, pioneering some great techniques along the way. In this lesson, I want to share some of his cool arpeggio patterns that span all seven strings. Note to 6-string players: If you play the first two notes of the 7-string sweep arpeggios on the 7th and 10th frets of the sixth string (using your 1st finger), you can play this lesson without a 7-string.
I worked with Buz creating an instructional program outlining his style and techniques, and found him to be quite diverse as a player. Buz often adds minor 7th and diminished riffs and arpeggios into his music and, although he can shred masterfully, he allows melody to find its way into the mix. The example I’m going to share with you is inspiredby the lead section from the Unearth song “Crow Killers” from their CD The March, and it incorporates one of his signature 7-string arpeggios.
In Ex. 1, the lead section begins with a melodic line that climbs up the neck in three segments. Pay close attention to his vibrato at the end of each phrase.
Ex. 2 is a minor 7th sweep arpeggio that starts on a B at the seventh string 12th fret and, using hammer-ons, pull-offs, and slides, travels up to the 19th fret of the first string and all the way back down.
Ex. 3 is a similar minor 7th arpeggio but Buz finishes it off with a nice melodic line. Pay close attention to the fingering, it will help you cross all the strings smoothly.
John McCarthy is the creator of the Rock House Method.