In recent years, there has been an amazing influx of young, ultra-talented modern-metal guitarists. These new lions range from 7- and 8-string players in djent metal bands to traditional 6-stringers like shred-guru Plini and Brazilian wunderkind Kiko Loureiro, who currently holds the lead guitar spot in Megadeth. Within this crop stands a distinctive guitarist wielding his own unique ideas and interesting musical devices, the monstrously talented Wes Hauch. While he may not be a household name yet, his musical prowess and inspiring technical facility will leave many guitarists shaking their heads in disbelief and wanting to grab the nearest ax in the hope of assimilating a little bit of his fretboard wizardry.
Hauch broke onto the scene after his guest appearance on Periphery’s acclaimed second album, 2012’s Periphery II: This Time It’s Personal, which also featured outstanding performances from John Petrucci and Guthrie Govan. It was Hauch’s blazing lead work on the song “Mile Zero,” however, that brought him into the limelight of the metal and shred guitar community. Hauch has also recorded and toured with various groups including the Faceless, Glass Casket, Thy Art Is Murder, and Black Crown Initiate, to name a few.
Hauch’s command of building melodic and rhythmic intensity is beyond impressive, and his playing routinely employs a broad assortment of finger-twisting licks, smooth melodic phrases, intensely expressive string bends, and inspired sequential runs. The following examples will focus on revealing elements of his musical approach as well as his ability to build unusual melodic scale and arpeggio sequences. If you’re looking for some new licks, moves, and ideas to shake things up in your own playing, you’ve come to the right place!
To begin, Ex.1 features an interesting A harmonic minor sequenced legato run, which might bring Dimebag Darrell or Kirk Hammett to mind. As you play through this phrase, be sure to perform the rather wide fret-hand stretches and legato movements as smoothly as possible and give the final bend and finger vibrato added emphasis to really drive it home.
Ex.2 features one of Hauch’s signature half-step unison bend licks. This new twist on a stock technique—whole-step unison bending—provides a nice fingering shift for your fret hand and creates an unusual and inspiring new sound and way to explore performing unison bends. Hauch prefers to perform these stretched unison bends with his index finger and pinky, revealing a unique half-step bending concept and phrasing approach. It may take some time to become comfortable with this four-fret stretch and bending with the pinky, but the result is worth the effort of acquainting yourself with the technique.
Some of Hauch’s favorite musical ideas involve weaving various scales and arpeggios together into musically exciting and satisfying phrases that outline chord changes. Ex.3 begins with a Bm arpeggio (B D F#) that pivots to A#dim7 (A# C# E G) before resolving back to a B minor tonality, via a half-step bend up to the B root note. This kind of harmonic awareness is a hallmark of Hauch’s playing.
Ex. 4 employs a similar arpeggio fingering across the top four strings with a different melodic motif, this one outlining a Bm(add9) sound (B C# D F#). Once the first half of this lick is performed, the phrase is then transposed up a minor third, to Dm(add9) (D E F A). This kind of parallel minor-third shift is quite common in rock, metal, and jazz, and when performed and arranged around a minor key, implies a diminished tonality.
Ex. 5 is built around an ascending sextuplet sequence within the B harmonic minor scale (B C# D E F# G A#). While most metal guitarists tend to think of neo-classical shred pioneer Yngwie Malmsteen when they hear this kind of scalar run, the unusual and accented sequential movement here, another Hauch signature, helps give this often used scale a fresh makeover.
Ex. 6 pinpoints a common arpeggio movement that Hauch seems particularly fond of, in this case performed in the key of E minor and based on an Em(add9) arpeggio (E F# G B) with the major seventh, D#, added. As you play through the phrase, strive for seamlessness as you move across the strings, and be mindful of where you’re picking, sliding, and slurring. This pickedlegato articulation blend is a common sound in Hauch’s lead playing, and you can also hear this type of phrasing coming from shred legends Paul Gilbert, Richie Kotzen, and Greg Howe.
Our next example presents another Hauch-approved melodic sequencing approach, this one combining arpeggio and scale movements to create an appealing, modern sound. Ex.7 begins with an ascending Amaj7 arpeggio (A C# E G#) that flows into a legato slide along the high E string that’s based on the A major scale (A B C# D E F# G#), followed by a mirrorimage descent. Take your time practicing this lick, as the fingering shifts and string changing movements can be tricky to nail until you’ve familiarized yourself with the way in which this idea flows.
Ex. 8 is a variation on the previous run and employs the same major seven arpeggio shape and major scale segment, here a half-step higher, for Bbmaj7 (Bb D F A), before shifting down a half step to Amaj7. This run is a little more involved than the previous one, particularly due to the huge string cross at the end of bar 1, so be sure to practice it slowly at first, striving for a clean transition.
Our final example (Ex. 9) is a slick phrase similar to a climbing run Hauch played in his “Mile Zero” solo. This weaving sequence climbs through the A minor pentatonic scale (A C D E G) then pauses on an expressive half-step bend, from the major sixth, F# to the minor seventh, G, which creates a soulful A Dorian sound (A B C D E F# G), before finishing with a fragment of a familiar descending arpeggio. This run, in the context of the solo from which it came, creates a strong sense of forward momentum and provides an uplifting movement that really pushes Hauch’s tasteful improvisation over the edge. Try using it as a template for generating your own variations in different keys, using assorted note combinations.
This brief look at Hauch’s innovative lead playing only scratches the surface of the complexity of the young guitarist’s unique voice on the instrument. I highly recommend listening to his music and copping as many of his playing concepts and ideas as you can, as well as those from the other great guitarists mentioned in this lesson.