It is one of the key tests of any guitar player's abilities: in complete darkness, without looking at the fretboard, can you still find the notes and play?
Tougher still, can you still shred on your electric guitar (opens in new tab)? That's the challenge that DragonForce's Herman Li laid down to Megadeth's Kiko Loureiro when they were taking part in a livestream in aid of the #ShredforJasonBecker fundraising campaign (opens in new tab).
The pair had discussed guitar and Loureiro's journey as Megadeth guitarist – particularly the hair-raising audition process and band leader Dave Mustaine (opens in new tab)'s unerring ear for detail – when the gauntlet was thrown down.
Placing a facemask over his eyes, Loureiro settled in for the shred-off. "You look like a superhero," says Li. "Is this serious? I have to play like this?" replies Loureiro. Li donned one two and the pair embarked on a ridiculous, all-Ibanez shred jam, each taking turns to torch the fretboard with a bamboozling array of two-hand tapping, hyper-speed arpeggios and over-sized videogame melodies.
They were well matched. Both were using their Ibanez signature guitars with signature DiMarzio pickups. Li was on his trusty E-Gen18 Ibanez, which takes the super-svelte Superstrat chassis of the S-Series and augments it with a scalloped "Kung Fu grip" on the upper horn. Loureiro was using his trans grey burst KIKO10BP, which similarly switches up the S-Series recipe with a thicker body.
"That was fun," said Loureiro. "The problem was just switching positions. But it's something to practise maybe."
The #ShredforJasonBecker fundraising campaign was launched earlier in the year to help support Becker's medical expenses. Becker, who helped pioneer shred guitar, has had ALS for 30 years.
The virtual fundraising efforts have included a series of livestream shredathons, online auctions of Becker's rare guitars, and an official Reverb Store was opened selling a variety of instruments donated by some of the biggest names in rock and metal, including Paul Gilbert, Joe Satriani, Neal Schon and KISS. You can donate to the Jason Becker Special Needs Trust here (opens in new tab).
Indeed, this Loureiro's challenge was not the first time Li has dreamt up a fiendish on-camera test of his guest's abilities. Referencing one of shred's most-iconic moments, when Becker pulled out a yo-yo mid-solo, Li tasked Holy Grail's Alex Lee with playing a ripping solo and a yo-yo at the same time. You can see how they got on below.