Remco Post : As announced our esteemed guest Remco Post this month discusses the double DVD set of 'Learn To Play Steve Vai Volume 2'. Remco did a review about volume 1 already and should you want to have something to look out for, next month he picks up volume 3 for you. He takes over from here on from us. Lick Library labelled it “advanced”, and the experienced guitarist Remco can do little else but acknowledging that.
I have truly been looking forward to this, because seriously, these are the top notch songs, among which the greatest instrumental ballad of all times (at least in my eyes), which is 'For The love Of God'. Besides that, there are some more killers on it, which do little to no good to your self-esteem. Again we have the same two teachers as on volume 1, knowingly Guthrie Govan and Dave Kilminster. In a way that's no more that understandable, how many other guitarists can you find that in the first place know how to play these Vai songs and secondly and just as importantly, know how to explain them with every relevant detail.
For The Love Of God
The Attitude Song
The very first song ('For The Love Of God') Dave has the honour to demonstrate everything on his own guitar, which in fact is the same one as Vai's (the white JEM). I notice that Dave has the same long fingers Vai has. What is also funny to notice, is that sometimes notes that resound are taken over with another finger. Not that it is any bit important, but it might enable you to shift patters more easily. He also has that same wonderful sound, where from what I can hear at least a delay and reverb. The intro surprisingly enough is actually executable. But after that the first pitch harmonics set in, with a frantic tremolo and soon you are more likely to disconnect. Forget it when you are no seasoned guitarist. And it doesn't really help that my guitar has no tremolo either. At the chapter solo part 2 Dave starts by saying that it is actually impossible to exactly duplicate the record. You play as fast as you possibly can, but therefore it will never be the same, but you might come close. Steve himself concurs on this one, so who will ever blame you? So, in this chapter is mainly dealt with the patterns and even Dave makes an occasional flaw here… that's really reassuring to see. After that, we start to apply sweep-picking on arpeggio scales. Yes, that's English. You must have practiced this over and over should you ever consider taking on those of Vai. Before the last chapter of this song starts the teacher congratulates you for getting this far. I now seriously wonder how good exactly you have to be to master all of this, but nonetheless in my eyes this is a beautiful song!
The second song is 'Shy Boy'. The song may be called 'Shy Boy', but it would have been more suitable to call it “Show-off Boy”, as damn, what a speed! They are just scales, but at an incredible speed. The mere fact that this is a song in which is sang therefore doesn't imply that it any less tricky. the solo is a lot of freaking out with an abundant use of the tremolo. It may sound odd, explained this dry, but it works.
Onwards we move to the second DVD, which starts with 'Tender Surrender'. Guthrie takes over from Dave now. It is a very cool guy, by the way and a lot more relaxed! The theme of this song mainly consists of chords with octaves. You probably might now that, among others power chords with open strings in between. The first solo is a clean one which is in fact executable too. But shortly after that, as soon as the distortion sets in, the fun starts and it is Vai-like speed again. But in general you could say that this one is the one that gives you the most access.
The last song is 'The Attitude Song', again with teacher Dave. But it seems he got a lot younger all the sudden… Odd. This song is the only one that has a performance chapter, meaning that the entire song is done in one track. With Dave's remark saying “This is very confusing”, I think you sort of know what's in store. As for difficulty goes, it reaches out to the song 'For The Love Of God', only with the speed being the majority of the challenge. That and freaky shit and frantic tremolo abuse.
This already brings me to the final conclusion. The DVD itself is awesome, but the level is incredibly high. You can see the tutors push their own limits, so you must be special to play this properly. In all honesty I fall short most times, this is out of my league. If you can do it, you truly are a good guitarist. Next month we discuss the third and for now last part of the 'Learn To Play Steve Vai' series, but I'm afraid we will be have to calling it 'For The Love Of Vai'. And god has no choice but to concur.