Challenging passages we are working on


Let’s share riffs/licks we are currently struggling with :v:

Why create such thread?

  1. We may get some advice/insights from each other.

  2. This would create sort of “lick library” and I (selfishly) would like to learn some passages that other members are working on.
    *2,5. I’m sure that if we share these riffs, many of us will discover new bands/players.

  3. Most important reason: I am being led by curiosity and fun.

Yes, I am aware that one man’s ceiling is another man’s floor. I hope we won’t make this into a contest or some measuring of…objects :roll_eyes:

Of course, I’m making this thread because I have something very particular in mind. Today I learned intro riff/lick to a song In the Presence of Enemies (Pt.1) by Dream Theater. That intro drives me crazy! :face_with_symbols_over_mouth: The passage is not really fast but there are quite few pickslanting changes which make it tricky to me. (I actually find it easier to cross pick.)
Also, I suspect that I play it in different positions than Petrucci does. I chose positions that allow me to avoid rolling the fretting fingers (I hate rolling). Perhaps the way John plays it is a bit easier :thinking:

If somebody is working on 2WPS, I would recommend to try that riff, especially if you happen to be a Dream Theater fan :metal:



I’m working on No Boundaries by MAB. It isn’t the best song on the planet, but If I can pick that, I can pick anything (well almost!)

I started the following thread on the particular lick that I’m trying to get up to speed and having some issues with the lower strings! The goal tempo is 16th note triplets @ 130bpm and I still have a way to go

Thats a “yes” and “yes” from me!



I’m always pushing myself!

I gave myself two challenges in the past couple of weeks.

I wanted to transcribe and learn this clip from Thomas Griggs:

It took me a while and was really not easy, but I feel good about this note-for-note cover. In addition to the speed of some parts, the loose rhythms were very challenging to replicate accurately. Here was my cover:

Here’s the transcription I made:

Figuring out the pitches was like 10% of that, and the remaining challenge was getting all the rhythms and figuring out a way to notate all of that.

In that soundslice you have the option of viewing either his original video or my cover, both synced up with the score.

Pick slanting was a HUGE help in those fast runs. Thankfully they were mostly all ‘one direction’ - either all ascending or all descending, which made the picking much simpler.

This sounds silly, and was not a speed-oriented challenge per se, but I was really curious to try to notate and perform, on guitar, Adele’s vocal performance in the first chorus of “Hello,” and get as many of the little inflections, slurs, etc, as I could.

I got an ok take last night:

Here is the transcription I made and was reading from during the clip:



Lots of self-written things, but also the head of Chick Corea’s “Got a Match” and the fast unison section in PFM’s “La Luna Nuova”



@JakeEstner, it is a great idea to work on vocal lines! :+1: I guess it should improve phrasing quite a bit, right? I’m definitely going to try that in order to become more Gilmour-alike :smiley:

@timehat, care to share some of your own passages…? :roll_eyes: It’s totally ok if you don’t want to for any reason. You don’t have to explain yourself. I’m just curious :wink:



@Medium_Attempt - I think it would for sure! I think of “phrasing” as encompassing a lot of things: motivic development, space, phrase length, etc, and I think that working with vocal lines can help with that but I think the big benefit is in getting more intentional regarding what I guess I’d consider “articulation.” Meaning, even within a given phrase how we might bend, slide, use grace notes, etc, which personally I see as part of “phrasing.” But we’re bringing specific attention to the articulation.

But more broadly, I’ve also tried to learn a ton of vocal melodies (for songs I like, pop songs, etc) on the guitar and made it a personal goal to be as quick as possible in hearing a melody and then playing it on the guitar (in any key, in any position, any fingering, etc.) and I would like to think that has helped a lot with my phrasing and general melodic sense.



Not particularly well played, but I suppose if I could do that easily it wouldn’t be a challenging passage…



One of my (several) weak points is string tracking while ascending in DWPS alternate picked licks (I consider myself a primary-UWPS player). One example that forces me to encounter this problem is the ascending portion of the famous Petrucci chromatic exercise. In this video I’m attempting it at 190bpm (after a longish warmup!), I’m really struggling and I can barely keep it together for a few reps. I’m probably not 100% in time as well.

I have made decent progress so far, but there is still a while to go. Not necessarily because I want to increase the speed (getting it to 200 would be more than enough), but I’d like to increase my control, reliability and relaxation/confidence while playing this.

EDIT: Note I’m using a tortex TIII .73 pick, I’m slowly converting to thinner picks because I like to pick hard and use a lot of pick on the string.

Other passages that still kill me are the Erotomania 5s lick, and the main riff of Technical Difficulties, but I’ll discuss those later on :slight_smile:



This lick is harder than it first appears- especially when you are working on a non-primary/favoured pickslant. I use this one also to improve my UWPS. It is sounding great in your video, just got to work on the stamina!



Yup, I can only agree. “Articulation” is probably more accurate word.

Actually, you made me reconsider my “fear” of tackling music made by one player. Player, who pays tons of attention to these minute articulative details and I always feared that I couldn’t ever make justice to that music if I tried to learn it. To me it is like that girl you’re afraid to approach :smiley: I’m speaking about Steve Vai. He surely isn’t my favorite player but he’s…oh, I have no words to express my thoughts about his touch on instrument.
So yeah, perhaps I won’t learn full songs but I should check out how he articulates things and try to emulate them and incorporate into my playing.

@timehat, damn that looks complex! :dizzy_face: I’m not touching that anytime soon. Good luck with that :smiley:
By the way, is it a part of complete song you wrote? If so (and if you have some recordings uploaded to YouTube or somewhere else), I sure would love to hear your music :slight_smile:

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No, it’s not part of anything else yet, just sort of an etude for myself. It is pretty fun, so I may flesh out a piece around it.

Thanks for your interest in my music, it means lot. I currently play in sort of a weird metal band called Obsolescence, which you can check out here:

I also have lots of odds and ends on my SoundCloud which are mostly snippets and demos, but give a greater glimpse of my overall musical personality:



Today I’ve decided to work on one challenging passage in Ner Ner by Guthrie Govan that I’ve transcribed some time ago. I have played through it when transcribing but many mistakes and inaccuracies were made. Now it’s time to take it seriously.

I quickly realized that I probably should have read all the forum threads regarding crosspicking before tackling this (I’m about to do it now). It is likely one of the most complicated things I’ve practiced.

I’d rather not record myself attempting it :smiley: I’ll just share my transcription instead.

If somebody decides to try it out, let us know how it goes :wink:



I’m bringing this back because I finally recorded an attempt at one of the things I was working on.

Here’s me blundering through the head of Chick Corea’s “Got a Match?”:



Hey Timehat - thanks for sharing this, I wanted to say it’s tricky to comment when you’re playing right along with the original recording as it’s hard to hear what’s you and what’s the original, you know what I mean? Just saying this in case you wanted to hear some feedback or something.



I wrote a little ‘harp scale’ lick last week that was quite difficult to get at the tempo I wanted.

Hybrid picking and a couple of little sweeps:



Help on the way/Slipknot by the Grateful Dead is on my wish list. I have a guitar pro file I can share if anyone is interested. Just DM me.

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The sweep taps from DragonForce’s Valley of the Damned.

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The first sextuplet group of this solo, which is the second solo of the song Nothing to Say by Angra on the album Holy Land. The tempo is around 135BPM or slightly more, which makes it around 13.5 notes per second, let’s say under 14. I usually prefer economy picking, but I can’t get this one going to speed with either hand. It’s nothing fancy technically speaking but the speed and accuracy required elude me completely. My hands just lock up.

The rest of the song has some interesting riffs for the picking hand that border on crosspicking, so it’s worth checking out.


Shawn Lane's extreme pick edge angle for shred

It’s not easy at all to get fast 3nps scale fragments at that speed, especially when you have to get in and out of them so fast.

Have you tried rearranging them as 4nps? I found that one way pickslanting (without sweeps) is much more suited to this sort of thing.

On my side I’m still struggling with the last erotomania solo and the technical difficulties main riff!



Well I’m not even trying to get out! :laughing:

I suppose it’s worth a try. My left hand won’t like it but it already cannot cope with the 3NPS version anyway…