Eric Johnson - “Venus Isle” Solo Cover by Niko v1

Added later: Below is the version with the main guitar mixed much louder (9db!) and with less delay, so that the track is more separated from EJ’s solo. That way you can hear the notes being played much clearer, but it’s also less flattering to listen to :stuck_out_tongue:

Louder guitar track version:

It’s finally done :stuck_out_tongue:

This has definitely been one of the hardest solos I’ve had to learn how to play up until now, and that’s coming after having to learn the first Lonely in the Night solo. Many parts of Venus Isle were beyond my abilities and I had to play them over and over and over until they became playable. This is a solo where the slow parts are deceptively hard as well.

It’s a big challenge for the left hand AND the right hand. The right hand has to switch picking techniques every other phrase (alternate, economy, sweeps, fingerpicking) and the left hand has to constantly adjust itself, play wide shapes, mute arpeggiated notes, and also be able to play very fast phrases. This is enough to give you a migraine.

I tried to play the solo as close to note-for-note as possible and match the sound as closely as possible as well in the DAW.

In this era of “fake guitar” accusations I have to make certain clarifications to be completely clear :stuck_out_tongue:

The video is definitely NOT a live take. To paraphrase Boromir: “One does not simply recreate a studio solo of EJ in a live setting” :stuck_out_tongue:

EJ fans know how high the level of perfectionism is that EJ aspires to, especially 90s era EJ. So to try and recreate a studio solo note-for-note in a live take is quite a task, although I’m getting closer and closer.

For this cover however I chose to record several live takes, compile the best parts and punch in the trickiest parts to get to the most accurate result.

The recording took me around two hours, but that’s not counting the many dozens of hours of learning and rehearsing this solo for the past months.

Also, I couldn’t have done this without the help of Sensei Peter C who taught me the ins and outs of the solo, helped me through the rough spots, showed me what to focus on, the tricky bits, to persevere even if you think “it’s too hard” and especially to LISTEN before playing and while playing.

I hope the EJ fans like it, any comment, critique and question is welcome!

Have a great day!


This is awesome, nice work and thanks for sharing!

Just edited so the video embeds display automatically :smiley:


Thank you so much, Brendan :smiley:

Nicely played!! I’m working through the EJ stuff as well. The part at :56 is the hardest for me, trying to figure out a correct fingering.


Thx so much! That part is tricky indeed. I got the fingering from a live EJ performance of Venus Isle. If you don’t figure it out on your own, let me know, I can send you the tab for it.

Great stuff, Niko. And well played too!
This song and this solo is my absolute EJ favourite. I know what a big mouthful this tune is, because I wrestled it too some years ago.
I was asked to play something for my wifes sisters wedding; for when they walked out of the church, and I could think of nothing better for the occasion than the vibe in this song. Positive, majestic and beautiful. So I made an instrumental version of it, and tried my best to make it a bit “my own” while still trying to keep some of the brilliant “EJ things”.
Despite the crappy midi drums and recording it using the ancient TonePort from Line6, I’m really fond of the result because I think the intended energy got through.
My memories of the wedding was great, and they newlywed thought it was great with a bit of guitaristic stuff for leaving the church on:)
Please give it a spin!
-Mac G


Wow! That’s an amazing piece of work! I love the EJ meets a restrained version of EVH/Vai vibe. Cool phrasing all the way through. I will give this one many spins :wink: If you still have the backing track for this one, I would love it if you would be able to share it so I can have a go with it. I liked what you did by imitating the vocal lines with the guitar. Thanks for sharing :smiley:

1 Like

Thanks a lot for the nice words!
Please spin it as much as possible. It’s not doing much good just lying around here on my hard drive :slightly_smiling_face:
Here is the backing track

However, the midi drums I made on this one gets really annoying after you practice with it for a while, so just make your guitar loud in the mix when practicing. I think the rest of the instruments turned out closer to OK. Especially considering they were recorded by me, who is pretty much strictly just a guitar player :slight_smile: