Video tutorial: Killer licks with John 5 part 1

John 5 demonstrates his innovative approach to guitar

This is the first in our series of guest video lessons from John 5. Mr 5 found fame playing guitar with shock rock band Marilyn Manson before he quit in 2004, deciding to pursue his career elsewhere. He has since released several critically acclaimed solo albums which have been praised for their originality and John's unique approach to the guitar, a style that often includes aspects of country, metal and rock music.

John 5 is unashamedly influenced by country-style pickers, and as a result he frequently uses 'hybrid picking' - pick and fingers simultaneously. This is an enormously useful technique because you can switch instantly from regular picking to fingerstyle without the usual problem of how to get rid of the plectrum. You do end up losing the use of your first finger, so this isn't the best approach for classical guitar, but for any other styles it works well. It also makes string skipping a lot less frantic, especially in high-speed licks, because it instantly reduces the amount of hand movement required.

Like any new technique, this will feel odd at first, so you'll need to spend time developing the independence of your third and fourth fingers while still using the pick. In these first examples, John only uses the pick and his second finger so they're a good place to start. Isolate the tricky bits and 'loop' them until they feel natural; for example, the first four notes in Example 1 make a great exercise to just get used to the idea and feel of hybrid picking. Try to keep the volume of the notes played with the pick and your fingers even - this will ensure the lick sounds as fluid as when John plays it himself.

More info about John on the John 5 website.

Click here for full-sized tab.

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