Shred Talk !
(12 Aug 02)
Licks, Licks, Licks !
EV: Letīs talk about picking first. First thing I noticed about your playing is that you have an awesome picking technique. To me, itīs right up there with dudes like Paul Gilbert and Joey Tafolla etc.
I know that one essential lick for you to develop that technique was the legendary "Paul Gilbert Lick" ( check out my picking-articles to read more about that lick and see it as a TAB-EV)
What were other essential exercises for you to work on your picking ?
TK: Well, I can narrow it down to variations of that very lick. That lick was really one of the most important and helpful exercises to help me work on my picking.
Actually, it was used by Al Di Meola way before Paul made it popular. If you listen to Meola and his stuff from the 70īs, you can hear all the stuff that Paul and Yngwie later picked up and built on. He was like the "granddaddy of shred", and surely an influence for all the fast pickers that came next.
EV: Where did you pick up all the licks and exercises you practised ? Did you see them tabbed out anywhere, or did you transcribe them from records ?
TK: The first dude who really impressed me with his technique certainly was Eddie Van Halen. I had listened to Brian May, but he was more of a melodic player. Then I heard "Eruption", and it really got me going and inspired me to work on my technique.
I started to learn all kinds of different Van Halen licks, tried to learn every song on the newest Van Halen-album.
Then I got into the music of guys like Paul Gilbert / Racer X, Yngwie and those kinda guys, players who took the techniques another step further.
So it was a natural progress... I started out learning from Eddie, I guess I even sounded like him for a while, doing tapping and all that. Then I went to Yngwie, worked on picking etc.
EV: What are some of your favorite licks, you know, licks that you feel comfortable with, that you just naturally use a lot, i.e. to warm up.
TK: Definitely the Gilbert-lick. Itīs just the perfect lick to work on picking. I mean, the difficult part about alternate picking is going from one string to another, as opposed to picking on only one string. So, you have to work on picking on two adjacent strings, and the Gilbert-lick is perfect to work on changing strings... youīre constantly going from one string to the other.
EV: Players like Vinnie Moore always refer to a certain routine that they run through every day to maintain their technique. Do you have something like that?
TK: I sure do, but itīs not carved in stone or anything. I donīt have a solid list of certain licks that I always play, itīs always a rather spontaneous thing. It also depends on what Iīm preparing for. If Iīm going to play an acoustic show, itīs pointless to prepare by playing fast string-skipping stuff or something. I usually warm up and prepare myself by playing the stuff Iīm eventually going to play later. Like, when Iīm warming up before I play a workshop, I warm up with stuff that Iīm gonna play during that workshop.
There is one thing I usually do when I get to the point where I wasn't able to play for a few days straight. When that happens, I start out slowly, and play through the modes. Using three note per strings, I start low on the neck, F major, then I go to G Dorian, A Phrygian etc.
I then gradually increase speed until Iīm up to my usual picking-speed again.
EV: Are there some licks that youīd like to show to the people at ibreathe?
TK: OK, no problem. You see, all the Paul Gilbert stuff is pretty much based on having three notes per strings. And that works. Some people talk bad about that and stuff, but it works and sounds good.
And I tried to take that a bit further by playing four notes per string. And one of my favorite licks based on that goes like this:
( Measure 1 ). Click HERE to hear Thorsten play the lick like it is tabbed out in measure No.1
TK: Now, that lick is pretty good to add some variety to your picking-technique. But... you mentioned my picking-technique. Well, actually, I do use a lot of hammer onīs and pull offs mixed with picked notes. Guys like Paul Gilbert do the same. It makes things a bit easier sometimes, and you get a very nice sound that way. So, actually I play the lick I just showed you this way...
Click HERE to hear Thorsten play the lick like it is tabbed out in measure No.2 ( above )
TK: And finally, you can move this down an octave and play it on the G-string, and then you can move it down another octave...
Click HERE to hear Thorsten play a variation of the lick above
TK: What I like about picking is the control... I do have both hands on the guitar and kinda shape the sound a bit better.
EV: Youīre really good at sweeping too. And since we had that topic being discussed at ibreathe a few times, I wonder whether you want to show the people at ibreathe a cool sweeping lick ?
TK. Sure. Well, one of the sweeping licks I came up with is based on a song by Joe Satriani, "The Mystical Potatoe Head Groove Thing". In that song, he played six string-arpeggios by hammering on each note with his left hand. ( Also check out the instructional piece "The Power Cosmic" by Satch for another example of that approach-EV)
He played these cool arpeggios in there, and so I started playing them with sweeps. Here are the two arps, an E Minor11-arp ( measure 1 ) and an Emajor-arp ( measure 2 )
Click HERE to hear Thorsten sweep the Emin11-arp in measure 1
Click HERE to hear Thorsten sweep the Emaj-arp in measure 2
TK: Ok, so now I have a minor-shape and a major-shape, and I can move that up and down the neck diatonically. I did so in a piece of mine called "Shred It".
The chord progression is: Em-G-D-F-C-Eb-Bb-Bm-Am-Bm-Am
Hereīs the TAB:
And hereīs how it sounds...
Click HERE to hear Thorsten play an excerpt of "Shred It"
EV: Awesome. Now, can we take a look at another trademark piece of yours, "Aeon Flux" ? Like the tapping part of it
TK: Not really a trademark, cuz it has a whole lot of tapping in it. Actually I donīt remember all of it, but hereīs a part of it... first, the basic shape:
Itīs played like this then:
And I also switch the string combination I play it on:
So, you get something like this:
That one uses a combination of tapping, pulling, hammering and picking, and it took quite a while to get it up to speed. Here is that lick used in context, sounds like this...
Click HERE to hear Thorsten play the excerpt of "Aeon Flux"
TK: What I really like about this is that, by changing the tapped top-note, you actually create a little melody on top.
OK, one more lick for the people at ibreathe... another excerpt of "Aeon Flux", using the same approach, a combination of picking, tapping and hammer on / pull offs. This is one way to play wide-interval arpeggios.
This is the basic idea:
The idea is to tap the first note, then you pull off two notes, repick the first one you pulled off to, pull off to the other one, then you pick the first note on the adjacent string, pull off to another note, and then you hammer on to the next adjacent string... that is the toughest part about it.
After that, you do the whole thing again, one octave lower. ( above, measure 2 ).
If you go down another octave, you have a whole long lick together, it looks like this:
Click HERE to hear Thorsten play the 2nd excerpt of "Aeon Flux"
EV: Alrighty, thanks a lot. Do you have any last words of advice for the visitors of ibreathemusic ?
TK: I think the most important thing is ear training. Listen to as much music as possible, and transcribe and play along, too. Try to figure out stuff by listening to it.
And donīt forget the fun... itīs called "play guitar" not "work". Fun is essential. Try to figure out what you wanna do, and then work on it. Itīs great to learn and play a lot, itīs great to have a good technique and lots of theory-knowledge, but itīs very important to apply all that to actual music.
Technique is just a tool, donīt forget about that !
Well, thatīs it. Hope you enjoyed our conversation, and I hope you liked the licks and exercises Thorsten gave away.
Check out the music of Demon Drive... youīll find links to their site and Thorstenīs site on the intro-page of this article.
If you do have questions for Thorsten, post them at the forum, he might drop in and answer them himself, or Iīll forward them to him. And maybe, if you liked the licks, he might give away some more in the future...
It was a lot of fun to do this conversation, and itīs always fun to hang out, jam and play with Thorsten.