Essential Licks - Steve Vai

Steve Vai is one of the most versatile guitar virtuosos. He uses a wide range of techniques in adventurous compositions, being a model for all those who want to open new horizons in guitar playing. Here is a selection of licks that illustrate some of his techniques:

One of the techniques that Vai is fond of is that Hendrix "lace" used in the opening for Little Wing, for instance. Here is an example from Brandos Costumes:

Brandos Costumes

The MIDI File

Or a more extended one from Sisters:

Sisters

The MIDI File

Another technique that Vai uses frequently is sliding. Here are some slides from For the Love Of God:

For the Love Of God 2

The MIDI File

Alternating bass notes and chords is a jazz technique that Vai uses in a rock context. One of the riffs from The Audience Is Listening:

The Audience Is Listening

The MIDI File

And the same technique in Kill the Guy With the Ball:

Kill the Guy With the Ball

The MIDI File

From the same song, here are some octaves over an open E drone:

Kill the Guy With the Ball

The MIDI File

Vai also can use harmonics combined with bass moves. From Sisters:

Sisters

The MIDI File

Fast minor and minor7 arpeggios is another Vai technique. An example from Tender Surrender:

Tender Surrender

The MIDI File

And Em7 arpeggios altenated with slides from For the Love Of God:

For the Love Of God

The MIDI File

Fast scale patterns played 3 notes per string is another well-known technique. From Liberty:

Liberty

The MIDI File

Vai also uses repetitive scale patterns. In Rescue Me Or Bury Me:

Rescue Me Or Bury Me

The MIDI File

Or from For the Love Of God:

For the Love Of God

The MIDI File

One-finger tapping is often used by Vai. Here is a short example with tapping over the free B-string from A Lighter Shade Of Green:

A Lighter Shade Of Green

The MIDI File

And a much longer one from Rescue Me Or Bury Me:

Rescue Me Or Bury Me

The MIDI File

Steve Vai treats each and every note: slides, hammer-ons, pull-offs, harmonics, whammy-bar, vibrato, Vai uses almost every known technique to spice his solos. The beginning of The Riddle is an example:

The Riddle

The Riddle

The MIDI File

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