Play guitar like... Steve Hackett

A guitar lesson from the prog legend himself

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Blending soaring soloing with far-out experimentation, Steve Hackett's playing fizzes with invention. Here, he teaches us some of his most effective techniques...

Through classic English prog with Genesis and diverse solo albums covering both rock and classical styles, Steve Hackett has always squarely avoided the obvious blues-rock guitar traits.

"Hackett works with a huge palette of tones, always looking beyond the traditional 'lead or rhythm' attitude to the guitar"

Joining Genesis at a time when the blazing Marshall stack was king, Steve preferred to add fuzz pedals to a clean amp sound.

Hackett works with a huge palette of tones, always looking beyond the traditional 'lead or rhythm' attitude to the guitar, and placing melodies, tones and textures precisely with the arrangements.

In this lesson, Steve shows us some of the techniques he uses to create fast streams of notes without too much effort. Fittingly, he uses a guitar with a Fernandes Sustainer pickup - something that perfectly fits the Hackett approach.

Example 1

Steve starts with the principle of this whole lesson: finding ways to increase fluency, but without too much effort. Picking every note in this way is quite an inefficient use of your energy, especially if you're employing a distorted sound that creates natural sustain.

Example 1 tab (right-click to download)

Example 2

An obvious solution is to use legato techniques, including tapping. It doesn't really matter who invented tapping, but there aren't many recorded examples earlier than Steve's solo in The Musical Box from the 1971 Genesis album Nursery Cryme. This lick takes its inspiration from Steve's work of a couple of years later, on Dancing With The Moonlit King.

Example 2 tab (right-click to download)

Example 3

Steve has produced several album of nylon-string guitar, and here he applies a classical fingerstyle approach to a series of chords. All of the chords are on the same set of strings, meaning that your picking hand can remain fairly static while cycling through the repeating pattern.

Example 3 tab (right-click to download)

Example 4

This shout flourish sounds almost like flamenco guitar. Pick upwards through the chord using your thumb, index, middle and ring fingers (p i m a), then reach over to the top E string with your index finger and rake down through the full chord.

Example 4 tab (right-click to download)

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