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How NOT To Play Sykes Licks

Jun 01, 2021
Before puberty hit me with absolute vengeance, I was a super skinny, pale-faced kid whose favorite album was Thin Lizzy's Live and Dangerous album because it's pretty much the only album I had at the time and I fell in love with no album for many reasons. a lot of the riffs were really accessible, there are some super tasty guitar solos and you know the cover made you want to pick up a guitar and become a rock star so I went looking for more stuff from Thin Lizzy and The First Studio Album one of them that I found was their album Thunder and Lightning with John Sykes on guitar, especially the cult songs we always remember hearing that for the first time and we just needed to know how to

play

that riff because it was so cool, so much swagger, it was so aggressive that there are pinch harmonics flying everywhere and it just had this big bold guitar moment, you know, it's like the essence of rock distilled, so the difference between that album that sounds so heavy and the live and dangerous album, I thought that it was a guy called John Sykes, so I tried to track down more stuff he'd done and I got the 1987 Whitesnake album and I still can't do those harmonics the way he does them.
how not to play sykes licks
One thing I noticed when John was

play

ing a lot of the solos from the 87 album, a lot of the solos from the Blue Kill album that I put on later I got and you know he's singing on that Blue Kill album too so it's like You could sing better than almost everyone who knows how to play the guitar. almost better than everyone, you're right, great songs, you're a handsome guy, I think I want to be you, so I developed this mega man crush on John Sykes, but I noticed he does this like a repetitive pentatonic thing frequently. and I had heard a little bit of Garry Moore at the time and to me I thought, yeah, I think John is influenced by Garry Moore and probably also Michael Schenker, who I'm vaguely aware of at the time I heard the rock song. down anyway and it's that rapid fire pentatonic lick that you know if you're playing in the key of E and he does it in the second half of the cold sweat solo where he went up for a beat to G sharp, the first little lick is kind of like This, that's how I play, oh, that was a little rough, but I loved that lick and I thought, okay, he does a ton of that song, he doesn't have a ton of Whitesnake songs.
how not to play sykes licks

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I have to figure this out. and at a similar time I got the live DVD of White Snake in the Silver Night with Doug Aldrich playing on it and he's another guy who comes from that sheng code gary moore John Sykes type school and I was watching how he was doing it and I was like you know he has these kind of flat fingers and he gets in there and really rips and I was like, "Okay, I'm definitely NOT going to be able to do it with that because I've always had trouble with the tuna/lace patterns and my The Bible for playing stuff and basically guitar in general is still Paul Gilbert's intense rock volume one so I thought maybe I could understand it as a three notes per string thing and this is what I came up with, it doesn't really sound like the lick but it's hyper aggressive and I think it sounds really good and it's very much like some kind of weird hybrid of Paul Gilbert Doug, old Rick John Sykes and Gary Moore and just my general lousy sloppiness, sort of, and I love the way where Doug did the John thing where he does quick

licks

but then he worked on curves, so I was trying to work on that.
how not to play sykes licks
I love the way someone like Gary Moore and John were so aggressive with their playing, but I also loved the way someone like Paul Gilbert would discover cool ways to do

licks

that you wouldn't necessarily think of, so let's Let's get a little closer and I'll talk a little bit more about this lick, okay, let's get closer. Nice and closed on this lick, we're going to do it in the key of E just because it's a little bit easier to play with than G sharp. We're using a minor pentatonic for John's version of the lick like this and the notes we're going to use. playing the fourteenth fret on the G string, the twelfth fret on the B string and the fifteenth fret on the B string as well, so what you do is play the fourteenth and then hammer from twelve to fifteen and back to twelve, that's the first little part and I do this with pick economy just with a downward stroke basically because I'm very lazy so that's the first little part of the lick, next time you play it just bend the hammer here so you do this, that is pretty much what he's playing, you know you might want to go and consult some more accurate transcriptions than me, but that's the vibe of the lick and the idea is to play as aggressively as possible, so throw in a wah and a lot of delay if you like me. and you're super sloppy, so that's pretty much what he's playing and it's a great skill to have in your arsenal, very much in that category of when an inmate says, well, you play the hardest thing or the best thing you know in the guitar and just oh yeah this and I hope you're like oh dude that's awesome anyway that's how I figured out how to play it when I was a teenager and I still rely a lot on this lick.
how not to play sykes licks
I have used it in many solos for different ragdolls. songs is in the solo of a song called dime which is also in the solo of a song called all I want, so start at the twelfth fret with your middle finger and you'll go back with your index finger on the 11th of the B string and we're going to get up to the 15th on the B string, so the order in which we play the notes is 1215 1211, so you can see right away that this 11th fret comes from the blue scale, so I'm already a little bad, how can I not? play it and we're going to play the notes in this order, basically with hammers and pull-offs, that's a pretty good little legato exercise, plus all I added is basically that I take this note with tremolo and don't focus too much on how many times I touch it, but basically just do it, it's like a nervous twitch more than a precise lick, so I don't even touch it the same way twice.
You understand this and you can warm up. the lick just playing that kind of stuff and speeding it up, which I think is cool and basically allows you to take it to another level at that moment. I saw it basically as if Basset's eyes were asleep. I was listening to Paul Gill, that's intense rock. Volume one, I say listen, I say listen and look, so everything had to be three notes per string at that time. There's a really cool little pattern if you want a sequence that's like a six pattern like this or just turn it into a twitch and The nice thing about the twitch method is that you can make it your own, you know it's not going to sound the same between two musicians and you can take it through an extended pentatonic or blues like this and again the point is to play as aggressively and with as much swagger as possible if you really want to copy John's vibe, this is how I don't play lick the cold sweat and give me all your love of Whitesnake and a bunch of other psych solos from John, I really hope.
This inspires you to basically dig back into the blues scale and play some crazy Sykes Schenker Gary licks, more inspired and yeah, impress all those preschoolers with how deeply you bastardize cool guitar licks. Thanks for watching. I'll see you next time, as always. Thank you all so much for checking out if there are any other songs you want me to show you how not to play or licks you want to discover as weird solutions, let me know in the comments until next time, keep up the great work. I'll see you. coming soon

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