by Jamie Kime
What do you get when you cross an abnormally skilled guitarist with a guy who paints himself silver? Why, Steve Vai of course. For over 20 years, Vai has cemented his position as a guitar superstar via such enviable gigs as Frank Zappa, Alcatrazz (replacing Yngwie), and David Lee Roth's first post-V.H. lineup. His subsequent solo releases (often targeted by critics as being overblown and self-indulgent) hit square on the mark with shred hungry guitar fans as well as girls who can still remember how cool his hair looked in that movie with the Karate Kid dude.
When not partaking in his hobby of raising honeybees, little Stevie
Vai can be found slicing and dicing through every track he plays
like some kind of frenetic guitar Cuisinart, leaving little room
for debate that he is (and will likely continue to be) a premier
force in rock guitar's Elite Guard.
In this lick, certainly one of the simpler Vai offerings to execute, he outlines a descending A6 arpeggio. Notice the rest on the first beat of bar 1, the gliss down into the first note, F#, and the quick pull-offs to open strings that lend to the "swung" nature of the lick. Switch your hand position for the last F# on the sixth string, 2nd fret so that it's grabbed with the second or third finger of the fretting hand. This will give you some power and leverage when wrenching that note up a minor third to the root, A.