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String Skipping and Tapping.

Speed, String Skipping, and Tapping.

Learn to Tackle Stone Mob’s Guaranteed Solo by John LeMarr

The guitar solo in Stone Mob’s rollicking “Guaranteed (Betty)” is a tour deforce of blazing speed and difficult techniques including string skipping and tapping. Guitarist Blaine Kaltman is known for his wild yet super technical style and this solo is one of his craziest.   It is daunting but not unlearnable. With a little patience, and a lot of practice you too can achieve what previously only a Shred Master General could.

The trick to learning Kaltman’s solo is breaking it down into measures and mastering the technique he uses specific to each measure.

Measure one is a set of pull-offs on the high E-string. The bad news is, in typical Kaltman style, the pull-offs are delivered at blistering speeds. The good news is they are all one shape. So, if you can go slow and master this shape, eventually you too can rev it up to Shred Master speeds.   Your pinky will be on the 17th fret, middle finger on the 15th fret, and index on the 14th. The pattern is 17th fret pulled off to 14th fret pulled off to open 1st string, then 15th fret pulled off to 14th fret pulled off to open first string. Repeat 6 times before hitting the 15th fret on the B-string (which will act as your anchor in this solo because at the end of each measure you will return to this high D note).

Measure two involves string skipping which means instead of playing on the 1st string and then dropping to the 2nd string- which is what most guitar solos involve- you will “jump” the 2nd string and go directly to the 3rd.   It’s a difficult technique but it allows guitarists to play more dynamic leads because they are less restricted as to what notes follow the preceding ones. Of course, nothing Kaltman does is easy and in this solo, he goes directly from the 1st string to the 4th string then to the 6th string then all the way back to the 1st string (which is about as extreme a string skip as you can make).   The pattern is in the tab so I won’t address it here. But I will say the trick to Kaltman’s string skipping is keeping your fretting hand close to the neck and keeping in mind what finger needs to land first- in this case almost always the pinky.

Measure three is a tapping pattern. Here we return to the 1st string. Your left hand will be doing the exact same shape you learned in measure one, only this time your pinky will be on the 12th fret. With your right hand you will tap the 17th fret. To get that extra vibrato learn another one of Kaltman’s tricks- slide or “rake” your tapping finger up the string on the fretboard as you tap. But, and this is the tricky part, keep your finger between the frets otherwise you will start to tap the wrong note.

Measure four is a descending pull off pattern. What makes it difficult, besides the speed of execution, is the righthand tremolo picking. To do this keep your pick flush against the fretboard and in a short, controlled burst, rapidly pick up and down. It takes some getting used to but tremolo picking adds excitement and the illusion of speed to solos so it is definitely worth learning.

The solo for “Guaranteed (Betty)” is no easy feat but it is doable with patience and loads of practice. And once you’ve learned this masterpiece of shred- and all the techniques within- you too will be a Shred Master General- guaranteed!

Solo starts at 2:57.


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