Melodic Soloing: Steve Lukather Style

by Guido Bungenstock

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  • Difficulty: 8
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  • Hi there!

    My first lesson is for every player who's interested in melodic soloing in the style of Steve Lukather.
    The lesson has three song parts A, B & C and is divided into 13 sections.

    A Part
    Bbsus2 | % | C | % |
    Bbsus2 | % | Dm9/11| % |
    Bbsus2 | % | C | % |
    Bbsus2 | % | Dm9| % |

    This part has a composed melody where I play very close to the chords by adding some small arpeggios. I often end the phrase with a chord tone. That makes a solo a lot more melodic. For example in bar 5 where the last note is C, in relation to the chord this is the 2nd of the Bbsus2 chord. You maybe noticed also that every chord starts on the last 8th of a beat. I play this off-beat accent on almost every end of a lick to get a better connection to the backing track.
    All kinds of typical blues licks spice up this section, mostly pentatonic stuff all inspired by Luke and Jimi Hendrix.
    Some phrase imitations here and there makes this solo more melodic and emotional together with vibrato, slides & bending.
    Play around with the whammy bar for dip or deep vibrato.

    B Part
    Ebmaj7 | % | Dm7/11| % |
    Bb/Eb | % | Em7#5| A7#5 |

    Here we have a small modulation from D Minor to G Minor(Ebmaj7 and Bb/Eb) and back again. In other words the perfect scale over Ebmaj7 and Bb/Eb would be Eb Lydian but I totally ignore this because I avoid the notes Eb and E. This way the pentatonic idea stays more in front. But over the Em7#5(or Cadd9/E) I add a small C Major triad to emphasize the character of the chord. On the A7#5 I just play a blues repeating pattern shifted in fourths by ending up with a fast D minor run. Of course I know this isn't the right scale for this in some way (the scale should be A Harm. Minor, A Mel. Minor or A altered) but I want to keep this whole pentatonic rock touch.

    Even if all this sounds a bit too theoretical, my intention when playing a solo is to always keep it melodic without thinking to much about it. But on the other side, music theory helps me to stay on the safe side. So keep in mind that knowledge about harmonies, rhythm etc is something really important.

    C Part
    Bbsus2 | % | C | % |
    Bbsus2 | % | Dm9/11| % |
    Bbsus2 | % | C | % |
    Bbsus2 | % | Dm9| % |
    Bbmaj7 |

    In this last totally improvised section I'm playing around with the "time shifting technique" (this is how I call it). I explain that more detailed in the 1st video. "Flying" around with the time gives you the possibility to create tension and a lot more emotion to your solo/melody. This is often heard in classical music. Other players who use this technique a lot are Dann Huff, Michael Landau, Andy Timmons etc.

    A typical Lukather chromatic line starts at the high frets over Bbsus2 and resolves to the following C Chord and then followed by double stops. Some typical Lukather triplets licks in there are combined with some bending. I'm ending up with a simple D minor scale run that resolves to the last Bbmaj7 chord (Bb lydian scale) by moving the time again a lot.

    Final words
    Even if the whole solo doesn't sound so much complicated it's not so easy to play because of the feel. I'm always trying to play a melody with my heart and emotion by adding accurate bending, a warm vibrato and dynamics. Also the "time shifting technique" I mentioned before makes it more natural. Sometimes only one or two notes that are played just a bit too late can add so much human touch to your playing.

    I tried to transcribe as close as possible. Specially in the Guitar Pro 5 you'll find all this little extras!
    Have fun with it!

    Cheers - Guido

    Technical specifications
    Guitar: Music Man Luke II
    Strings: D'Addario EXL 120
    Amp: Peavey JSX Top with Marshall 4x12" V30
    Effects: T.c. electronic G-Major
    Sound-deflection system by DEEFLEXX

    Mics: Shure SM57 & Rode NT1000
    Audio Interface: Focusrite Saffire PRO 24
    Recording SW: Logic 9, several plugins

    Standard tuning: E, A, D, G, B, E

    Tempo: 132 BPM

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