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Neoclassical Shred Guitar

Yes that's right, the title said classical. No this isn't some sick theory lesson on how to write classical music like Bach. We are going to teach you how to apply classical techniques into your playing!

Neoclassical guitar is the new age classical. It involved hard core metal guitar, fast hands, and some amazing scales and riffs.

If you are looking to be inspired or put in awe by some neoclassical guitarist, take a look at some of Yngwie J Malmsteen songs.

This is a beautiful representation of guitar that really takes practice and patience but the reward is great. First we're going to teach you where this stuff comes from, and then we're going to show you the scales it's based from. Finally, we will show you how to apply it to your playing by giving you a few licks to get started with. So here we go!

Tip #1: You need to understand that neoclassical isn't just classical music. "Neoclassic" typically refers (as a definition by most guitarists) to "neoclassic rock / metal", not "current classical music". We're talking about rock and metal, influenced by classical music. So don't worry, you're going to be rocking...hard and fast.

Neoclassical music became known in the early 80's. Before then, heavy rock was blues inspired. Then some guitarists took a leap of faith and started combing classical sounds into their hard metal songs.

Tip #2: Now it's time to learn some scales that you can play around with and even write a few solos with. I would like you to keep in mind when listening to players like Yngwie J Malmsteen that he is incredibly fast and has spent many countless hours practicing this music.

You can be that good too if you put the time into it. However, for these scales and riffs I will be slowing it down quite a bit so you can enjoy it and really hear the classical integrated with the rock.

The first scale is an E (natural) minor.

Tip, if you change the 15 on your B string to a 16 you will then change the scale to an E Harmonic minor scale!


E Phrygian Dominant (harmonic minor in the 5th mode)

This next scale is very useful but needs to be used correctly to have the full effect. For instance you could be using the scale above in a solo, then switch to the one below. The reason is it makes musical sense (without going into the theory of it all). It won't be overpowering to the song and will run smoothly together. E Phrygian Dominant (harmonic minor in the 5th mode)


Tip #3: Now it's time that we applied what we've just learned. We're going to run through some simple riffs to get you started.

Remember, when your working from a scale there is no wrong sequence of notes! Have fun and play what you like. It sounds amazing when you continue to build you speed (see previous lesson to help you with that). So lets keep going!


In the riff above you can easily see where the scale is. It's broken down to three notes at a time so you can read it easier. Can you hear the classical when you play it? It's really simple to get started.

Use that fret formula above and shift it one octave lower and see the difference it makes in your playing.


Keep doing this as you discover new solos yourself. It will add a new dimension to your playing!

This lesson just scratched the surface of what there is to learn about Neoclassical shred guitar. I hope you've found an interest in it, as it is a very useful skill to integrate into your playing.

Wishing a Happy Christmas to all of PJ's visitors,

Chris Elmore, GuitarTips.com


Article written by: Jordan Warford
Editor for GuitarTips.com.au

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