Shred guitar or shred refers to lead electric guitar playing that relies heavily on fast passages; the act of playing fast passages on an electric guitar is termed ‘shredding’. It is not a musical definition but a fairly subjective cultural term used by guitarists and enthusiasts of guitar music. It is usually used with reference to rock and metal guitar playing, more so due to various other associated techniques (such as whammy bar ‘dive-bombs’ and tapping); however, it is sometimes used with reference to playing outside this idiom, particularly country, jazz fusion and blues.[1][2]

Playing techniques Edit

The most basic form of shred guitar are based on a two- or three-octave scale or mode, played ascending and descending at a fast tempo. This run or lick can be played by individually picking all, or a selection, of the notes, using techniques such as alternate picking, or economy picking. Alternatively, the lick can be played by multiple-picking notes (tremolo picking), or picking just the first or second note of a string followed by a rapid succession of hammer-ons and/or pull-offs (legato).

Sweep picking is used to play extremely rapid arpeggios across the fretboard (sometimes on all strings). The tapping technique is used to play rapid flourishes of notes or to play arpeggios or scalar patterns using pure legato with no picking. Various techniques are used to perform passages with wide intervals, and to create a flowing legato sound. Some performers make complex combinations of tapping and sweep picking.

History Edit

By the early 1960s, rock guitar had distanced itself from its blues roots, and began to embrace a more jazz-based approach. By the early 1970s, many guitarists began experimenting with a new fusion of jazz, rock and world music. In 1978, Eddie Van Halen merged fusion elements used by jazz fusion guitarists such as Allan Holdsworth with the 1970s-era hard rock. Randy Rhoads and Swedish guitarist Yngwie Malmsteen incorporated classical influences with complex guitar compositions.

This fast playing style combined with the heavily distorted tone of heavy metal music resulted in a new nickname, 'shred'. Progressive rock, heavy metal, hard rock and jazz fusion have all made use of and adapted the style successfully over the past two and a half decades. In general, however, the phrase "shred guitar" has been traditionally associated with instrumental rock and heavy metal guitarists. This association has become less common now that modern, evolved forms of metal have adopted shredding as well. By the 2000s, its mainstream appeal had diminished since the rise of grunge and nu metal.

Equipment Edit

Shred guitar players often use electric solidbody guitars such as Ibanez, Kramer, Carvin, Jackson, B.C. Rich or ESP. Shred style guitarists often use locking tremolo systems, which stay more in tune when used for "dive bombing"-style sound effects. These guitars are commonly referred to as 'superstrats', and are generally high-end, expensive instruments. Some shred guitarists use elaborately-shaped models by B.C. Rich or Dean, as well as modern versions of classic radical designs like Gibson's Flying V and Explorer models. Double-cutaway superstrat style guitars tend give performers easier access to the higher frets.

Some shred guitar players use guitars with seven, eight or 12 strings to add more range of notes. Most shred guitar players use a range of effects such as distortion and compression to facilitate the performance of shred techniques such as tapping, hammer-ons, and pull-offs, and to create a unique tone. Often, shred-style guitar players use high-gain vacuum tube amplifiers such as Carvin, Krank, Peavey, Mesa Boogie, Laney, Hughes & Kettner, and Randall.

Bass shredding Edit

Shredding on bass guitar is less common. One example of a bass-shred musician is Billy Sheehan, who is known to incorporate many electric guitar techniques into his bass playing.[citation needed]

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