Vai Licks and Riffs (Guitar Lesson)


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Chris Liepe

Vai Licks and Riffs

Chris presents an information packed lesson on many different Vai-inspired guitar licks and riffs. Learn the licks from the introduction video and apply them to your own style of soloing.

Taught by Chris Liepe in Style of Steve Vai seriesLength: 24:59Difficulty: 4.0 of 5
This lesson covers a number of Vai inspired licks. Most of them are from the "Intro" that you saw/heard in Lesson 1 of this series. A couple of them are other ideas I had left over after I was done writing the Intro and didn't know where to put them. For the licks found in the Intro, I have provided PDFs of the Tab.

It is very important to note what chords are being played under each lick. Even though the Intro consists of only 3 chords, (E5, G5, and A5) there are a number of modal changes that occur as you work through the licks. For example, once the A5 chord is played, the initial lick interprets the A5 using A Dorian. When the first tap lick comes in, A Mixolydian is used, and then for the faster taps at the end, we switch to straight A Major.

The beginning of the Intro is played in E Lydian and then modulates to G Major where there is a D Major arpeggio being played over the G5 chord. There is then an E minor run played over the G Major chord.

These licks are classic examples of the concepts taught in Lesson 3 (Melodic Invention/Technique). There are simple chords being played and held, but the lead guitar is adding all sorts of tonalities that make the basic power chords interesting.

The ideal application for these licks is not necessarily to learn my Intro found in Lesson 1 note-for-note. In fact, if you go back and compare what I am playing to the provided tab, you'll notice that, even though ideas and some of the licks are identical, there are some obvious differences and note choices. It is perfectly normal to have a number of licks in your bag and then, when playing over a song or track, they are changed and massaged to fit the mood and pace of what is being played. This is the practical application of phrasing. Never assume that you must learn something, put it in a box and play it that way every time.

My recommendation is that you record your own "backing chords" or use the provided backing track in Lesson 1 and experiment with the placement over some of these licks over the chords and see what comes out. Since there is no click track, you can practice phrasing some of these ideas however you'd like. Record yourself if you can, and listen back to how you are interpreting the track.

The other two licks demonstrated and tabbed can be played over A Mixolydian and B minor respectively. Using the theory concepts applied in Lesson 3, see what other chords you can play under these licks. For example, the fast B minor lick could be played over a D Major chord for a straight major sound, or a G Major chord for a Lydian sound. Have fun and see what you come up with!

Video Subtitles / Captions


Member Comments about this Lesson

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scott88scott88 replied on November 12th, 2013

nice. what about the tone? pedal with delay? thanks

Style of Steve Vai

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

Take a look at this series to learn many different tips and techniques to the Style of Steve Vai.



Lesson 1

Steve Vai Series Introduction

Chris Liepe takes moment to introduce his lesson series on Steve Vai. He demonstrates a Vai-like instrumental and explains what the following lessons will cover. For now, just sit back and enjoy Chris...

Length: 2:47 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 2

Steve Vai Playing Techniques

Chris kicks off this lesson series with an in depth look at many different techniques Vai uses in his playing. From rhythmic moving 5ths, legato variations, interval sliding to multi-string tapping techniques,...

Length: 36:49 Difficulty: 4.0 FREE
Lesson 3

Melodic Invention/Technique

Chris Liepe introduces his third Vai lesson with a deep explanation in creating Vai-like melodies. Covering techniques and some "inventing" concepts, Chris presents many different ideas for you to add...

Length: 32:32 Difficulty: 4.0 Members Only
Lesson 4

Vai Licks and Riffs

Chris presents an information packed lesson on many different Vai-inspired guitar licks and riffs.

Length: 24:59 Difficulty: 4.0 Members Only
Lesson 5

Rhythm Techniques

Time to get some Vai-inspired rhythm into your playing! Chris jumps into some power chords, clean rhythms, and everything in between to help demonstrate the unique sound of Vai.

Length: 12:59 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 6

Guitar Effects

Chris Liepe explains how Steve Vai achieves his unique tone.

Length: 20:05 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 7

Central Lick Idea

Chris Liepe rounds out this Steve Vai Series with a concept called the "central lick idea." This idea can be used to explore new solo possibilities around a central thematic idea.

Length: 8:57 Difficulty: 4.0 Members Only

About Chris Liepe View Full Biography Chris Liepe was born on September 17th, 1981 in Portland OR. His first instrument was piano which he pursued until discovering his love for the electric guitar in high school. He became fans of such groups as Soundgarden, Collective Soul and U2 inspiring him to start singing, songwriting and helping others in their musical endeavors with teaching, co-writing and album production.

Having moved to Colorado with his family, he began gigging, recording and teaching in a number of music stores as well as out of his apartment until deciding to pursue music full time. He moved to Denver, CO to complete a Bachelors in Music Technology and was then hired on by Sweetwater Productions, a division of Sweetwater Sound and one of the largest, most successful recording studios in the Midwest.

Chris spent nearly 4 years at Sweetwater as a producer, recording engineer, studio musician and writer. During this time he had the privilege of working with many artists including Augustana, Landon Pigg, Jars of Clay, and Mercy Me. He also wrote for and played on numerous independent albums and hundreds of radio/TV commercials.

Wanting to get back to his favorite State in the world (Colorado) and feeling the urge to 'go freelance', Chris moved to Greeley, CO and opened his own recording and teaching studio. He continues to write and produce music for artists and agencies and is happy to be among the proud JamPlay.com instructors.

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