How to have a unique lead guitar sound

Do you want to have a unique lead guitar sound? Want a hot tip?

If so, steal. However, don’t steal from just one source. If you stole from just one source, you’ll sound exactly like the person you stole from. Others will say “you sound just like…”

To get a unique lead guitar sound…

…steal from as many people as you possibly can. And you don’t even have to limit your influences to other guitarists. Steal from other musicians – violinists, saxophone players, whatever! The more, the merrier, since the more musicians you steal from, the more unique your lead guitar sound will be!

I’ve stolen from everyone from Randy Rhoads to Tchaikovsky. I strongly suggest you at least pick your top 10 songs. They don’t even have to be guitar related. Learn to play those songs. That exercise will do wonders to help you gain your own unique lead guitar sound.

I’ve taken from other genres too. I’ve stolen a lot from the Blues to Classical music and everything in between.

Roman from Astral Eyes explaining how to get a unique lead guitar sound

Blues licks so easy your grandma can play them

Wanna learn how to play the Blues? Well, you need to learn some licks. So I have some Blues licks to show ya.

These licks are so easy your grandma can play them. I show them to you at normal speed and also slow, and even explain them in intricate detail.

Blues licks so easy…

So you might be asking, why are blues licks so important? Well, do you like American music? If so, Blues is the basis for all American music, from Jazz, Ragtime, R&B, Country, and Rock n Roll.

Of course as a Metalhead, Metal came from Britain. But even early Metal was heavily influenced by the Blues. So of course I’m going to take learning the Blues seriously.

Regardless, some of my favorite guitarists played some pretty mean Blues. Angus Young of AC-DC, BB King, Prince, and Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top all play their own version of the Blues.

Blues translates well

Years ago, I got asked to join a working Country & Western band. Not at all my style of music, but I really liked the leader of the band. He was very cool, and C&W dance halls are generally full of good looking ladies. And, they’re approachable.

These guys were making some pretty good money. As a Metalhead, it’s not so easy picking up regular gigs. You don’t start making money until your band gets pretty big.

With Country, you make money right away because C&W fans love to dance. Take a wild guess why they asked me to join…

Damn right! Because they knew I played some pretty mean Blues. And yes, Blues translates very well to Country music. If you can play Blues, you can play Country.

But let’s not make this all about Country. That’s just one example. I use these Blues licks all the time in my Metal guitar solos.

So learn these things. No matter what kind of music you play, they’ll integrate quite well.

Roman makes playing blues licks so easy for the Romantic Metal band Astral Eyes.

Roman of Astral Eyes makes blues licks so easy

Roman plays some pretty mean Blues

Electro-Harmonix Electric Mistress guitar pedal review

Have you ever heard of the Electric Mistress guitar pedal? If not, you need to. It’s a guitar effects pedal by Electro-Harmonix that features both chorus and flanger guitar effects.

I stumbled upon the company by accident. I was trying to see if anyone still made effects pedals in America. It’s something that’s important to me. As someone who has had their job sent overseas, I care about American workers.

Anyways, you could be out of the country. Or you don’t care. Whatever. You’re probably only concerned about whether or not it sounds good. Which is fine.

Electric Mistress review

So enough about politics. I’ll talk about the pedal itself.

The Electric Mistress is a guitar pedal that has both chorus and flanger effects. You could set the chorus all the way up and the flanger at 25%, reverse that, use all or not, or whatever. It’s very versatile as you can play around with any combination of those effects.

How does it sound? Watch the video:

I rarely use effects. Therefore, there’s not much of a sample of me using it on our debut album. It’s because I generally plug in straight to the amp.

However, if you’re an effects guy, definitely check out the video. I go in depth and give plenty of example of its usage.

Enjoy!

Roman is the founder of the band Astral Eyes and the Romantic Metal genre.

Roman Astral Eyes

Is the Soul Preacher pedal good for Metal guitar sustain?

So you ask, is the Electro-Harmonix Soul Preacher pedal any good for Metal lead guitar sustain? And I answer “no.”

I’m sure it’s a wonderful compression pedal for Funk. I love Electro-Harmonix as a company. But for increasing your sustain, it’s just not that good.

Why?

Watch the video:

Soul Preacher review for Metal lead guitar

Alright. I’ll explain why.

You need more sustain. Therefore, you buy a sustain pedal. Or you get a better amp. Or you buy a heavier guitar.

You can do any of those things to improve your sustain. Since we’re talking about sustain pedals, is the Soul Preacher pedal any good?

For heavily distorted Metal lead guitar, no. It’s awful.

Too much noise

You’ll see me adjust the settings. I try out the pedal with full sustain with all three attacks.

No luck. It’s a bad pedal because there’s too much noise. And, the sustain improvement is quite minimal. It’s simply not enough to fight with all that noise.

You’ll hear it in the video. The noise is very apparent.

Roman Astral Eyes reviews Soul Preacher pedal

The Harmonic Minor Scale

Remember 80s Metal? For awhile there, Neo-Classical got really big and you guessed it, that’s why we’re going over the Harmonic Minor scale. The Harmonic Minor scale was the most used scale by the Neo-Classical Metal guitarists of the 80s, until of course in the late-80s, someone gave them a memo to all start learning Jazz Fusion and Metal started getting really weird.

Well, here’s an ode to the 80s before things got really weird. It’s one of the three scales I warm up with in the morning.

What is the Harmonic Minor scale?

Simply put, it’s the minor scale with the seventh note sharped. Yes, it’s that easy. That’s what gives it that exotic sound.

With the following fingers:
1 – Index finger
2 – Middle finger
3 – Ring finger
4 – Pinky

The Harmonic Minor scale

The Harmonic Minor scale

Once again, I used E because it’s easier. You get two dots so you can see exactly where it is on the guitar.

Learn the pattern. Play it forwards and backwards. Then start playing it in other keys on the fretboard.

Go for accuracy first

Like always, go for accuracy first. Learn it and get the scale to flow well. The speed will come. Get accuracy down first. Learn it correctly before building up your speed. That’s very important and I can’t emphasize how important that is. Very few things sound worse than a fast player who’s missing all over the place. That stuff sounds like crap. (Don’t be that guy).

Once you’ve mastered it, build it into licks and runs. Throw in some bends. Heck, incorporate it into your riffs. Riffs built off the Harmonic Minor scale sound really cool.

Randy Rhoads used this scale in one of my favorite Ozzy Osbourne songs – Revelations. This scale is what gives the song such an exotic sound.

Enjoy! There’s no limit what you can do with this scale.

Roman


Roman orchestrations Astral Eyes
Roman writes the orchestrations for Astral Eyes. He plays Guitar and Piano and has a Bachelor’s degree in History.

The Blues Scale

I use the Blues Scale as one of my three warm-up scales. In any order, I start the morning off with the Major scale, the Harmonic Minor scale, and the Blues scale. I’ll go into the other two another day, but today, I’ll focus on the Blues scale.

What is the Blues Scale?

The Blues Scale is simply a pentatonic scale with an additional flatted fifth. It’s very simple, but sounds quite awesome.

With the following fingers:
1 – Index finger
2 – Middle finger
3 – Ring finger
4 – Pinky

Simply take the diagram and practice that pattern up and down the neck, forwards and backwards. I chose E because E has 2 dots. Let’s keep it simple.

The Blues Scale

The Blues Scale

Starting from the fat E string, play with your index finger on the twelve fret and your pinky finger on the fifteenth fret, then work your way up. Do it slowly and accurately at first. Go for accuracy first. Let speed develop with time.

Don’t rush speed

Don’t rush speed. Speed will come. You should never rush speed. That’s a shortcut you don’t want to take because your sound will suffer, big time.

You want to practice this very slowly. Get a really nice flow first. With repetition comes accuracy and with accuracy comes speed. I know speed is a bad word to some, but whatever. I happen to think you should have as many weapons in your arsenal as possible. If you can play the mean Blues, great. If you can play fast, great. Or if you can play jazzy, great. If you can be groovy, great. The more tricks you have up your sleeve, the better. Don’t limit yourself because some jackass got offended because he’s being a purist snob.

So learn this scale if you don’t already know it. Learn it up and down the neck. Become accurate at it first, then let the speed develop on its own. You can incorporate it into your licks or runs or other bags of tricks. There are times when I’ll do this one on its own too. It’s got a pretty cool sound. Add a few bends somewhere in there and you’re golden.

Enjoy!

Roman

Roman from Astral Eyes
Roman is one of two guitarists in the twin lead guitar band Astral Eyes.

Image of Roman shot by Kate. Thanks Kate!

You do have time to practice guitar

Yes, you do have time to practice guitar. I’m assuming if you’re reading this, you have a day job. If this isn’t a complaint of yours, you can safely ignore this article. If however, you feel like you do not have time to practice, read on.

To make time to practice guitar, you need to make time to practice. You need to start creating the right habits. One thing you’ll see in life is that people who are good at anything have consistently good habits. People who are bad at everything tend to have very bad habits. Luck actually plays a small part in life. You might hate me for saying this, but it’s true. Some folks are consistently unlucky, but with the right habits, they can make the best out of bad luck. But that’s another rant for another time. Let’s talk about practicing guitar.

Pick up a guitar first thing in the morning

What do you do the very first thing in the morning? Pick your nose? Drink coffee? Check your email? OK, if you didn’t answer “practice guitar” or anything equivalent, you gave the wrong answer. Very first thing you should do in the morning, before the coffee and before checking your email is pick up your guitar. Even if it’s for only five minutes, pick up the guitar and practice scales.

Yes, you don’t want to be late for work. I get that. Then only do it for five minutes. At least you got your scales in for the day.

You need to do that daily. Every. Single. Day. Wake up, grab your guitar, and do scales. If you got ten minutes, even better. Practice first thing in the morning. Always. No excuses.

Find time to practice guitar while watching TV

Second, do you watch TV? If you answered no, then you have time to practice. If you answered yes, then practice guitar while watching TV. It may drive your girlfriend or your boyfriend nuts, but that’s their problem. They’ll get used to it. Grab the guitar, don’t plug it into the amp, and practice while watching TV.

You can multitask. Your ancestors did it. If you’re watching an hour show, get an hour in. You’ll still absorb the show but more importantly, you’ll get your hour of practice in.

Every chance you get, practice. Coming home for lunch? Squeeze in five to ten minutes of practice. You cooked and the food is in the oven? Good. That gives you time to practice guitar. Doing laundry? Let the machine do the work and practice your guitar.

Every chance you get. Make time to practice guitar. Get those good habits going and within only a few years, you’ll be a pretty good guitarist. It’s all about time. The more time you practice, the better you will be.

Roman

Roman from Astral Eyes
Roman is the Guitarist, Pianist, Composer, and Orchestrator for the world’s first Romantic Metal band – Astral Eyes. Their first album “Another Sacrifice Gone Wrong” is available now!.

Image of Roman shot by Kate. Thanks Kate!

When Your World is Up in Flames

Looks like it’s been awhile since we updated this site. A lot has happened. Bridget is doing fine and is very busy in school. And my band is doing pretty well. We just released our first video, Up in Flames. Click on the image below to hear it:

Up in Flames video

A lot of changes

We’ve had a lot of changes. Astral Eyes actually disbanded in late 2014 and came back to life earlier this year. Lots of drama I won’t get into.

For those of you who have been following the band for quite some time, we’re no longer a female fronted band. Skitz joined earlier this year and was immediately thrust into the studio. We’re also a twin lead guitar band now instead of just me doing the leads.

We also have our first album out. You should give it a listen. Up in Flames is our first single. It came out 10/31/2015 and we’re already getting decent sales.

Up in Flames video

The video itself was a blast to make. We shot it between Chico and Paradise in Northern California. Here are a few screenshots to show how beautiful the locations they chose were:
Astral Eyes Up in Flames video

Astral Eyes Up in Flames video

The song is about a girl who is to be sacrificed to a dragon and instead, the dragon falls in love with her and is giving her the choice to turn on her enemies. The original video was to be animated, but the record company was against it. They said it needs to feature the band, especially since it’s our first ever video. I guess looking back it makes sense. The animation had a little twist where the girl was actually a witch and she cast a spell to make the dragon fall in love with her.

So instead, you see a live action video. We do like it, so no regrets. We did get rained on a lot. California’s going through a drought and of course, when we go to shoot a video, we get rained on.

Anyways, if you haven’t seen it yet, check it out.


Roman guitarist, composer Astral Eyes
Roman is the founder of the Astral Eyes. He plays Guitar, Piano, and is a Classical Composer, Orchestrator and has a BA in History.

Metal is about to enter a second Golden Age…

Heavy Metal music is about to enter a second Golden Age. How do I know this? I don’t. It’s a prediction. However, we have some signs:

1. People are saying that Metal in America is dead. We’ve heard this before when in the late 70s, the talking heads declared Metal dead and punk to be king. We all know what happened next.

2. The experts are declaring that music in general is dying because nobody can make money except for a very few pop acts. I hesitate to call these pop acts “artists” because most of these people are performers, not artists. Artists involves making art. This ain’t art.

3. The kids need something to listen to. I’ve talked to so many kids who are musically stuck in previous generations because they can’t stand the most of the music coming out today. (You may interpret this as a bad thing, but it’s a really good thing. It’s like buying into the stock market when everyone else has left it).

4. You don’t need a major label to record good music. There’s an excess today of extremely talented Producers and guess what? They’re charging less than they were charging in the 80s and 90s. Bad for them. Good for young bands with limited budgets. For the first time in your lifetime, you can hire these people with a bank loan or credit cards to record a full album. This has never happened before. You’d always need a record label to front you the money. Now, you can do it yourself.

5. There’s an excess of places where you can get people to listen to your music. Not too long ago, you had the radio and MTV. And that’s it. If you don’t get on the radio and/or MTV, you don’t get heard. Period. You had no career. This is a pretty epic change.

So, what does this all have to do with Metal?

Everything. Except for the 80s, Metal has been underground. Metal still has a strong, devoted following. More devoted than any other form of music. By far. Metalheads are more devoted to their music than punks are to theirs, or rap fans to theirs, or ska fans to theirs, or jazz fans to theirs.

Just being realistic. You know this is true because you’ve seen it first hand.

All we need now is for four or five Metal bands to lead the way. When it happens, it will be the second Golden Age of Metal. Mark my words. It will happen sooner than later.