Back in 2010 I wrote an article for another website of my own which was dedicated to any subject I chose to write about. I guess realistically the theme of that website was no theme. Recently events have unfolded that have reminded me of that article once again. In fact, these events are now the reason I’ve decided to re-post that article’s content here (read on for more). Hopefully you’ll also see why I believe it’s now relevant on this website (dedicated to my ongoing fascination with all things music/guitar related).
Before I share the article, I’ll quickly let you know the events that have brought me here.
Recently on the Guitarist Guild forum GuitarStarTV posted a thread offering to put together video guitar lessons for anybody who was interested. I thought it was a great subject (and offer) so asked if he was referring to things like the outro solo from the Metallica song Fade to Black. To my pleasant surprise an answer quickly came back that simply said “Classic solo! I love that song & think it’s one of their best! Leave it with me & I’ll upload a tutorial on youtube for you!”. Needless to say, I was very excited. When the first video lesson was posted in the next day or so, my excitement levels rose yet again.
Once all of the lessons have been published, I’ll write again (and perhaps share how I’ve managed to record the solo if I manage to pull it off). If I don’t, I know that this will be as close as I’ve ever come to my ultimate guitar lesson. I should point out that in the four years since writing this article my views have changed slightly. I do know how to play a little bit more of Fade to Black, but the outro solo remains that one element I’ve just never tried playing.
Anyhow, here is my original article. Hopefully you’ll see why these new video lessons seem so awesome to me.
The ultimate guitar lesson (2010)
I have been playing guitar for many years now. And I have never managed to really improve my skills. I am permanently trapped in the can play many riffs, but very few songs stage of my guitar development. Sometimes I wish I was a better guitar player. OK … Most of the time I wish I was a better guitar player. My problem is I have never really found that one thing to motivate me into getting proper guitar lessons. Perhaps until now.
So … Let me tell you how it all began for me. Strangely enough, it began at the beginning.
When I first began playing the guitar, I was taught how to play Paranoid by Black Sabbath and Breaking the Law by Judas Priest—riffs only of course—and I thought that was just awesome. From then on, it’s been self-taught riff after riff for nearly 25 years. If it wasn’t self-taught, it was through either print or web sourced guitar tablature.
Do you know what has always brought me the most joy though? Of course you don’t. You’re not me. I am though, so I therefore know.
It was learning Metallica riffs. I wanted to learn the riffs to all of their songs. So I bought the guitar tablature books for the first five Metallica albums. Even with those books and their complete tablature, I always went to the riffs I liked. I learned those riffs and I moved on. I never considered trying to learn a song from beginning to end.
And this is why I am the guitarist that I am today. Because I never had traditional guitar lessons. My problem though, is I still have very little interest in traditional guitar lessons. I’ve seen lessons online and I have heard stories of the things you are often taught by traditional guitar instructors. Nothing I have seen or heard makes me want to see a professional guitar instructor. Nobody is teaching what I have come to realise is the only thing I really want to know how to do on the guitar. You see, there is only one thing I really want to know how to do on the guitar. And that is play Fade to Black on guitar from beginning to end.
In my opinion, Fade to Black is the greatest song ever written. By anybody. Ever. I could have that song on permanent loop and never tire of it. Fade to Black has the greatest introduction. Fade to Black has the best combination of light and dark. And the riffs contained in that song are simply the best. But to me, if I could do anything on guitar, it would be to play the end solo of that song.
That solo builds like nothing else I have ever heard. It may not be the most technically perfect solo or necessarily the most difficult thing for a talented guitarist to play. But if I could get professional lessons that focused on all that this song contains I would be happy with my guitar playing for the rest of my life.
Surely to many people this sounds like a short sighted plan, but let’s think about it. If someone constructed a guitar lesson plan based on Fade to Black they would be teaching people how to
- play acoustic/melodic guitar parts (intro and main verses)
- play great rhythm guitar parts
- play heavy metal lead guitar.
That seems fairly well rounded to me. I don’t understand why nobody has ever done this before. Or if they have, why I’ve never heard of it. Heck, if someone offered it as a structured lesson plan, I’d pay for it.