Eddie Van Halen – A focus on

Riffs And Licks In The Style Of...

Hello everyone, welcome to the in-depth study of the song inspired by the legendary Eddie Van Halen that I wrote and played for you last episode.

We will go together to analyze the salient moments of the short solo to rattle off the contents and then be able to insert them in our personal baggage of licks.

Mainly these are minor pentatonic and blues scales performed in groups, also with the use of open strings. Obviously, the use of tapping as an added note to the classic pentatonic boxes and as an expressive nuance to generate artificial harmonics is also characteristic.

Let's go into detail:

Eddie Van Halen the solo opens with a classic pentatonic rock lick rich in bending. In bars 15 and 16 we can note in particular how at the end of each sequence of groups of triplet notes, the use of the blues note is preferred to the more typical fourth note of the pentatonic scale.

The following section contains in four bars some of the cornerstones of EVH's style: tapping, chromatic descents and artificial harmonics. From a technical point of view it will be very important to make sure to change the other strings with the palm of the right hand, but also with the help of the forearm to avoid unpleasant and involuntary resonances, especially of the lower strings. For artificial harmonics you will have to hit the metal fret quickly with the middle finger of the right hand while the left hand holds the note raised with a one-tone bend.

In this third section of the solo we find another fundamental point of the Van Halenian style, the addition of open strings in pentatonic licks. This lick is clearly inspired by what we can appreciate in the solos of songs like "Hot For Teacher" (from "1984", of the same year) or "Somebody Get Me A Doctor" (from "Van Halen II”, 1979) and consists of a quick triplet lick in which we find the second open string as the last note before changing the string and landing, again, on the blues note. It will be important to pay attention to the pull-off, in order to better rhythmically control this open string within the repetition of the six-note group.

Here, too, the use of tapping in the style of EVH is evident, which allows you to expand the classic pentatonic box with index / little finger shape, adding a third note taken "borrowed" from the next box. In bars 27 and 28, the chromatic slides are insidious from a rhythmic point of view, but also in terms of cleaning the sound. As for Section 2 seen a little while ago, it will be necessary to make sure that the other strings are well changed.

In this fifth section, in bars 30 and 31, we find the use of tremolo picking of great importance. Eddie did it by rotating his wrist to allow for more effective rotation at high speeds, thanks to the angle of the pick. This technique is appreciable, for example, in the ending of the legendary solo of Michael Jackson's "Beat It" (from "Thriller", 1982) or even in Van Halen songs such as "I'm The One" (from "Van Halen" , 1978) or "Good Enough" (from "5150", 1986).

With this repetition typical of the Rock / Blues pentatonic tradition we are approaching the solo finale. We will play these four bars in legato, simply plotting the first note of the repetition in downstroke and repeating, again in downstroke, the note with a half-tone bend on the third string.

In this solo ending we will use the tremolo lever in the first bar to create the typical dive bomb effect and then play one of Eddie Van Halen's most famous licks. A descending blues pentatonic with the addition of the ninth and the major sixth to which a tapping note is added to the twelfth fret of each string. We can also listen to it at the end of the intro of the song "Hot For Teacher", before the band joins.

After a tapping note (thanks to which, after a half-tone bending on the minor third of the chord we reach the root note), we will conclude our solo with another dive bomb on the powerchord of A.

The sound:

We have seen how to approach the solo in question from a technical point of view, now it's time to understand how to get as close as possible to the sound of this great guitarist. As was the tradition for many guitarists of that decade, they preferred to use a superstrat, a guitar with a Stratoide shape and construction but with a humbucker pickup in the bridge and with tremolo lever or Floyd Rose.

Speaking of amplifiers, don't make the mistake of considering the Van Halen sound as a high-gain sound. The so-called brown sound was in fact produced by vintage amps pulled to maximum volume, with cut highs, slightly boosted lows and very present mids to pierce the mix. It will therefore not be necessary to exaggerate with the gain, to avoid making the sound too harsh and "mosquito", even if easier to play. In the absence of a classic Marshall / Peavey / EVH head, you can always sculpt the sound with an overdrive pedal to achieve the same result.

In addition to the classic Delay and Flanger used throughout his career, a constant and indispensable piece to emulate Eddie's sound is the Phaser. Used on his many solos and riffs, it should be adjusted to the minimum to obtain a subtle but evident change in the signal eq, but without distorting the sound of the guitar.

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