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Michael Johnson >> Brian May (Queen) style >>

Teacher: This interactive lesson covers more on the series on Brian May of Queen. In this lesson we'll cover techniques from their Sheer Heart Attack and Night at the Opera era. The lesson sample will give you an idea of the licks you'll learn

Lesson Sample

The introduction starts with a guitar orchestra piece which is signature to the Brian May sound. Let's get started, here's the main melody of the first section

Part 1 - Intro 1

Part 1 - Intro - Harmony 1

In the studio Brian adds a 3rd and 5th harmony guitar track to layer the sound. You can use a Harmonizer to achieve this sound. The Harmonizer setting is in C, with a 3rd and 5th harmony.

Part 1 - Intro 1 - Harmony 1

Part 1 - Intro - Harmony 1

Teacher: You can see how each of these parts are layered, here's the next counter melody harmony.

Part 1 - Intro 1 - Harmony 2

Part 1 - Intro - Harmony 2

Teacher: Now all of these parts are based in the C Major scale and towards the end of the phrase you have an ascending run in C Major using a delay setting on 800ms.

Part 1 - Intro 1 - Harmony 3

Part 1 - Intro - Harmony 3

Teacher: Here's the tab with all three parts together. I used to play French Horn in Orchestra and you use the very same techniques to layer instruments as we're doing here.

Part 1 - Intro 1 - All Parts

Teacher: You can see how the counter parts work together in the last tab, I highlighted the 2nd and 3rd guitars, here's a jam track for all parts

Looping Jam Track 1 - Intro 1

Teacher: Practice any of the parts with the jam track. OK, let's move to our next section, in this lick you use a descending sequence in E, here's the lick

Part 2 - Run 1

Part 2 - Run 1

Teacher: For this run you're actually using a E Minor Blues scale pattern. Notice how you barre the 12th fret, while playing 3 notes at a time towards the middle of the lick

E Minor Blues

Teacher: Here's the jam track:

Looping Jam Track 2 - Part 2

Teacher: You play you're accent notes to the bass and drum track throughout this lick. Now let's go to the next section.

Part 3 - Riff 1

Part 3 - Riff 1

Teacher: This riff starts by using the E Minor Pentatonic while using the open E string (6th) to drone. Then you shift the same riff to A. Here's the jam track:

Looping Jam Track 3 - Part 3

Teacher: Now you might notice the groove has a Rockabilly feel. This up-tempo beat is challenging to play over using this lick, so practice the lick a few times and then try playing to the jam track.

Teacher: Now a few things about Brian May's sound we talked about last lesson. Brian uses 6 - 9 Vox AC 30s, with a very saturated sound. On top of that he uses a treble booster for the top end. Brian also uses a phase/chorus to gave all the amps a thicker sound. The end result is a wall of sound. John Deacon, Queen's bassist built a custom amp for Brian to create the guitar orchestra harmonies. Now let's get into a new section. First we'll use a bass and drum track to play over.

Looping Jam Track 4 - Part 4

Teacher: All of these licks will be in E, we first start in the E Minor Blues scale we covered earlier

Part 4 - Lick 1

Part 4 - Lick 1

Teacher: You start the lick with a slow and gradual bend. Notice you play the b5 note later in this lick. This next lick uses the single G string

Part 4 - Lick 2

Part 4 - Lick 2

Teacher: The last lick kind of reminds me of something Alex Lifeson of Rush would play. Now you can descend using an A Mixolydian pattern

Part 4 - Lick 3

Part 4 - Lick 3

Teacher: Notice you use a chromatic run to tie in both patterns as you descend. After that you can use a series of hammer-ons that ascend the middle two strings

Part 4 - Lick 4

Part 4 - Lick 4

Teacher: See how they all work together? This takes you outside of the standard Pentatonic pattern using more diatonic notes and triads and hammer-ons. OK, here's an extra exercise, do all of you have a delay pedal or effects rack with delay?

chris: so how do you do this

Teacher: Well if you can get your hands on one, you set the delay on 1000ms with 50% on the feedback and the delay volume on 8 - 10. Now what we are going to do is play an ascending E Minor scale pattern

Part 5 - Run 1

Teacher: OK, if you have a delay pedal set on the setting I gave as you play downward the next delay will start latter on the first note creating a harmony to the main line you are playing, here's an example:

Part 5 - Run 1

Teacher: See how the delay notes, if timed right will create the harmonies?

bart: ah, yes!

Teacher: After awhile you have 2 or 3 descending harmonies created by the delay notes. This is one of the main techniques Brian May uses with delay. Brian Has the main amp that starts the scale, the second amp with a delay set on 800-1000ms and then a third amp 1300-1500ms to create a wall of sound. The main trick is timing the first note with the delays, and yes if you make a mistake that will be played many times over 8-)

Teacher: Time to go, I look forward to seeing you all next week!

Stratman: great lesson

bart: ok, thanks

Teacher: bye!

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