The Leads Are Weak

The Leads Are Weak: Open This Pit Up!


The Leads Are Weak with Job For A Cowboy's Tony Sannicandro

Hey everyone, how are ya? Good? Great. Grand.

This time around I’ve got another technique tip that can add some cool phrasing ideas to your playing. I got this idea from listening to players like Van Halen, Petrooch and Satch as well as Joey Tafolla (who has a pretty cool ditty up on the ‘tube demonstrating another variation on this kind of technique). Check out “Andalusia” by Satriani as well to hear a lot of this kind of phrasing. I’m talking about pulloffs and hammers to open strings.

In the quest to make the guitar even cooler than it already is, a lot of dudes started trying to mimic the sounds of other instruments using new phrasing and techniques. Pulloffs to open strings gives a wide intervallic sound that can be really fuggin cool depending on how you use it. It’s also very easy and cool to get a sitar-like droning sound using this technique. I don’t think I’ve got too much of a sitar sound happening, but I used this idea melodically at the end of “Nourishment Through Bloodshed” to give the outro melody a different kind of chorusey sound:

This is easy to do with slides and pulloffs. Since the key of this song is basically a Phrygian dominant, the use of open strings is pretty available because the high E is in the key and definitely easy to play without fucking up too much. Obviously this is a very simple idea but it’s also cool to work into lead lines as well. I did this for a bar or two in the beginning of the solo to “Tarnished Gluttony.” It’s very subtle but I think it’s a cool technique and it gives a simple lick some extra punch.

Now on to some technique building BS. Here’s just a simple lick idea that utilizes some pulloffs to open strings and some slides and hammers from nowhere.

(click to enlarge)

The first part of this lick is something that could stand on its own as a melody idea, but I repeated it using the A harmonic minor scale. The biggest thing is making sure not to flub the open notes. I would practice repeating the first half and possibly create another set of changes based on the scale and get comfortable with that. To finish off the repeating lick I put in a few diminished-type pulloffs into two suspended sweep arpeggios. Suspended sweep arpeggios sound spacey to me and kind of grab your ear. Normally I would follow a chord sequence with them but since this is just a freeballed lick they are just there for fun. Finally to finish it off, there’s a repeated pentatonic-type pattern that hints at A minor blues and uses fast alternate picking. Listen:

Anyway… that’s enough of my horseshit for now. OPEN IT UP. Until next time.

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