Here we have a stylised lead break, taken from Jeff Loomis’s solo on The Learning from the album The Politics Of Ecstasy.  In the first bar we have some melodic alternate picking in E Harmonic Minor R 2 b3 4 5 b6 7, which develops into a pedal tone phrase before exiting in bar 2 with a nice semi-tone bend into an Em Pentatonic type lick. A consistent and even picking tone will be needed, with all notes very lightly palm muted. On the exit bend in bar 2, be aware of the tone of the note and the subsequent vibrato as these elements are the key in gaining the modern rock sound needed for this style.

In bars 3 and 4, there is a continuation with the melodic alternate picking phrases. Try to make sure that the tip of the left hand index finger is muting the string above the one being played as that is where most unwanted noise will come from. Also try to work on the right amount of palm mute needed to achieve good clarity and note separation. The phrase ends on a note which is presented with heavy tone-wide vibrato which should be pulled downwards in direction using the wrist.

In bars 5 and 6 we have a semi tone bend into a wide vibrato note. Be very careful  with the intonation of any semi tone bends as they can sound dreadful if executed poorly! Then the open string at the end of bar 5 sets up a glorious sounding Em add9 arpeggio R 2(9) b3 5 which uses a sweeping technique in bar 6. Your left hand thumb will need to be positioned at the middle of the back of the neck in order to stretch out for the notes on the A string. Practice this bar as an exercise, slowly at first while you gain the accuracy. The pick should pull up through the strings when descending and when ascending rest on the next string before pushing through. The left hand should fret one note at a time so as to get good note separation.

Finally bars 7 and 8 carry on the momentum of the previous phrase with a series of sweep picked, 3 string E diminished triads leading to a tension and release E minor to Eb diminished cadence, outlined by some classic 4 and 5 string arpeggio shapes. Especially with the last two arpeggios, it will be necessary to practice very slowly at first as they are positioned at the very end of the fretboard where there is no room for error! Lastly the exit note bend in bar 9 finishes the presentation of this solo with wide vibrato.

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