Steve Vai Guitar Techniques

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Berklee Online Exclusive: Gain a deep understanding and command of the playing styles, repertoire, techniques, and musical concepts of guitar legend and Berklee alum Steve Vai. This online course, the first ever of its kind, presents an "under the hood" look at the work of one of the world's most influential guitarists. Through playing exercises, listening examples, hours of never-before-seen video, song transcriptions and performance assignments, students will not only learn the secrets behind Vai's best known compositions and virtuosic techniques, but will also learn how to improve their own solos, chord and rhythm playing, and overall voice on the guitar.

Each week, the course spotlights a different Steve Vai composition and explores all the relevant topics and techniques related to that song, including soloing, rhythm playing, scales, bending, tapping, sweep picking, sliding, time feel, tone, articulation, and use of the whammy bar. You will learn to craft and perform lead lines like those in the Grammy-nominated songs "Tender Surrender," "For the Love of God," and "The Attitude Song." You will learn to execute the seemingly impossible two-hand tapping, pull-offs, and other ear-bending licks from songs like "Building the Church," "Juice," and "Jibboom." You will also listen to a number of Vai's first-hand anecdotes and inspirational lessons, including many behind the scenes stories about playing alongside the composer and guitarist Frank Zappa.

The course will also explore the circular vibrato, the incredibly precise artificial harmonics, and the virtuosic sweeps that Vai is known for. In addition to dissecting Vai's tunes, the course places a heavy emphasis on "how" and "why" each tune was written, allowing you to grow not only as a performer but also as a composer, all the while finding your own unique voice on the guitar. Steve Vai Guitar Techniques is taught by members of Berklee College of Music's renowned guitar department. All students will receive detailed, personalized feedback on their work from an esteemed member of Berklee's guitar faculty, who will be leading this course on a week-to-week basis.

By the end of this course, you will be able to:

  • play several of Steve Vai's compositions and guitar solos according to his own fingerings and techniques
  • improve your power chord and clean rhythm playing techniques and vocabulary
  • improvise your own guitar solos over different loops constructed from various Vai "naked tracks"
  • execute several different whammy bar tricks and techniques
  • further develop your string bending and vibrato skills and techniques
  • learn Vai's approach to sweep picking
  • apply various one- and two-handed tapping techniques on your guitar
  • further develop and improve your odd meter time feel
  • perform different pull-off riffs on your guitar
  • incorporate slides to embellish your guitar solos and melody statements
  • improve your reading skills
  • learn how to ultimately find your own voice on the guitar

Ready to Enroll?