Shred guitar has always been a style that fascinated me especially since I identify myself more as a jazz guitarist and fingerstyle guitarist. Now you may ask, why would someone like me dig the style? Well, mainly because I’ve dealt with a lot of technical issues in my playing over the years and continue to work on technique. Technique always seemed to be a challenge for me. So, that led me to explore guitarists from shred, gypsy jazz and rock styles. I feel that certain guitar styles internally have more emphasis on technique (since the music is so darn difficult) and whenever I study with rock guitarists, I learn a lot about how to play better.With Chris Zoupa’s first book, he gives a comprehensive breakdown of shred guitar covering picking, tapping and sweeping technique.
In chapter one, Chris begins with explaining the importance of rhythmic clarity. He includes picking exercises that go through various rhythmic grouping to goes through a variety. Throughout the chapter, the main emphasis is on having systematic picking patterns, using the metronome and efficiency for both left hand and right hand. Chromatic, pentatonic and minor sequences are covered with alternate picking being the main focus. Towards the end of the chapter, Chris also gives some ideas for economy picking and string skipping as it relates to the shred context.
Personally, I probably would recommend working on 2 to 3 different exercises at a time and building your skills step by step. Although it appears to be one chapter, each exercise will definitely provide many hours of practice for the aspiring shredder. I feel that guitarists unfamiliar with the players referenced in the text should check out the respective artist’s discography. Like any book covering a style, the student should listen to as much of the music in the style to understand how each exercise relates to the genre.
In chapter two, Chris explores many ways to develop legato skills. From basic technical exercises to more musical exercises, he covers a wide variety of lines that will challenge players of all levels. I particularly enjoyed the fact that he also includes phrases that use diminished, whole tone, Phrygian and the Lydian Hirajoshi Pentatonic scale as well. Having the various scale sounds make this a very interesting and challenging chapter to study.
Tapping is the next technique discussed in chapter three and again Chris includes a huge variety of tapping exercises from fundamental exercises to more difficult ones that include sweep arpeggio taps and string skipped taps. The difficulty level increases rapidly I feel so some of the exercises may be broken down into smaller segments for those new to this technique.
In the fourth and final chapter, Chris goes into a musical explanation of sweep picking technique. He begins with smaller sweeps and goes into sweeps that include wide range arpeggios, multiple positions and 7th chord arpeggios. As with most of the book, the exercises are often inspired by real music and artists that Chris loves. This adds a lot of personality to the book compared to more common dry approaches to teaching sweep picking purely as a technique. I always feel that authors who have learned the technique directly from the source have an interesting take on the technique than someone who just learned it mechanically.
All in all, this is one book that is very deceptive. In just 114 pages, Chris has managed to distill his years of experience both as a player and an educator into a book that I believe will be useful for many.
Pros: A lot of material, much of it very challenging. This is one to refer to and keep coming back for repeated study.
Cons: The exercises may be dry and mechanical for some players. This can be remedied by listening to the various artists that Chris mentions throughout the book.
TLDR: If you’re into shred and are looking for technical exercises that will challenge and develop your skills, this is a book worth checking out. Not for newbies and guitarists looking for instant gratification.
You can get the book here:
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