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This week's guitarist in the spotlight: Eddie Van Halen

Last week, we looked at Eric Clapton, and some licks in his style. This week we're looking at Eddie Van Halen. Eddie Van Halen hit the guitar scene in 1978 with his band Van Halen and their self titled debut album "Van Halen". The most innovative and influential guitarist since Hendrix, Eddie Van Halen set the world on fire with his two handed tapping technique and whammy bar skills, all done in the context of very heavy rock guitar riffs. He and his band Van Halen set the stage for all the Hair Metal bands that would come out of the Los Angeles sunset strip in the 1980s as well as legions of rock/metal/shred guitarists that would come out in the following decade.

As for his choice of guitars, early in his career Eddie Van Halen started off playing the iconic red and white striped guitar before moving onto playing Peavey Guitars in the late 80s which he stuck with for the rest of his career until his death in 2020. Below are some licks in the style of the great man which you can learn and apply to your own playing.

In this lick we have a classic Eddie Van Halen tapping lick inspired by the legendary track "Eruption" from Van Halen's debut album "Van Halen I", the track which started the two handed tapping craze in the late 70s/80s. To play it simply tap the note under the letter T with your index finger or your middle finger and pull off with your fretting fingers. Start off slow then work your way up to speed with the metronome.

Another tapping lick. To pull this off bend the first note at the 9th fret of the G string then as you hold the bend in place tap and pull off the following notes with the middle or index finger of your tapping hand. This lick is inspired by the track "Panama" from the "1984 album.

Here we have more of a riff than a lick. Inspired by many classic Van Halen tracks such as "Unchained", "Panama". The riff features those sus4 chords which are so typical of the classic Van Halen sound.

Here we have a shuffle riff, inspired by the Van Halen tracks "Ice Cream Man" and "I'm The One", both from their 1978 debut "Van Halen I". This is a great example of how you can fuse a shuffle rhythm with metal and one way in which Van Halen showed their blues influence.

Here we have another tapping lick, this time inspired by Van Halen's heavy cover of the Kinks' "You Really Got Me". As with the first lick, practice slow, then slowly increase with the metronome, always focusing on accuracy, precision and tone,

Another tapping lick, this time in the vein of Eddie Van Halen's solo from the song "Jump" from the album "1984". This one is a little tricky so make sure you nail it slow before increasing the speed.

Tapping, tapping and more tapping. This one uses the notes from the A Minor Pentatonic Scale.

So that's it for this week. Remember as always to not only learn all these licks (and riffs) but to apply these techniques and concepts to your playing and mess around them, make them your own. Also if you wish to check out more of Van Halen's music (and playing), check out the recommended listening below. As always have fun and see you next week!

Recommended listening

With Van Halen:

Van Halen - Van Halen I

Van Halen - Van Halen II

Van Halen - Fair Warning

Van Halen - 1984

Special mention:

Michael Jackson - Beat It (solo)

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