Power Metal Soloing: Timo Tolkki

by Gabriel Leopardi

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    THE PROFESSOR As you can hear in this shredtastic lesson by Gabriel, using the Phrygian and Aeolian Modes are two great ways to bring a metal sound to your guitar playing. This may not be news to you, but you might be surprised to know that these modes are only one note different, the Phrygian has a b2 and the Aeolian has a natural 2, all other notes are the same. 

    Learning how to build and compare the Aeolian Mode and the Phrygian Mode will allow you to quickly move between these two sounds on the fretboard, as they are only one note apart, the b2. This will get your metal chops into high gear and help you bring a b2 vibe to your minor riffs, solos and runs.

    Hi GMC!

    Welcome to my new series based on the most influential Power Metal guitar players. I already recorded many lessons covering Power Metal bands from different parts of the world, but I mostly focused on songwriting, arranging and riffing. Now it’s time for guitar solos. I will be covering the style of the most remarked power metal guitarists. I decided to start with the great “Timo Tolkki”.

    “Timo Tapio Tolkki (born 3 March 1966) is a Finnish musician best known as the former guitarist, songwriter and producer of the power metal band Stratovarius. With his tenure lasting for more than twenty years, he was the longest standing member of the band before his departure in 2008. After leaving Stratovarius he formed two supergroups named Revolution Renaissance and Symfonia, both of which have since disbanded. In a 2011 article by Guitar World magazine, Tolkki was included in the all-time top 50 list of fastest guitar players in the world.” - Wikipedia

    Music Style:
    I think that Timo took the guitar style of players like Yngwie Malmsteen, Jason Becker, Randy Roads, Vinnie Moore and many other shred neoclassical guitarists and took it to a new level thanks to his powerful compositions for his band Stratovarius. I can find many Malmsteen style licks on his playing but there are also influences by players like Shawn Lane, Al Di Meola and Steve Vai.

    Tonality, Chord Progression & Scales:
    Timo’s compositions are usually in minor key but one common trick used in Stratovarius is modulating to major tonalities in the chorus. This means that most of Timo’s riffs are composed using minor Aeolian Phrygian and Harmonic minor scales. His solos are also mostly composed using this scales, so these are the scales that I used in this lesson. This tune starts in A minor, and then we have the solo sections that goes from B Phrygian to E minor.

    As you could read in the Wiki extract, Timo is considered one of the fastest guitar players ever. His Alternate Picking technique is fantastic as well as his Sweep Picking licks. In this lesson we will start with 2 strings Sweep Picking and then very fast Alternate Picking.

    I used my Pod HD 500 to record this lesson. I used the Brit J-45 Amp Model with a 4x12 Greenback 25 Cab Model.
    My guitar is a Gibson Les Paul Studio.

    Click HERE to download my POD HD500 Patch.

    I used standard 440 tuning to make this lesson more suitable for everybody but I must clarify that Tolkki tunes his guitar half tone lower (to Eb).

    145 BPM

    Homework included - check out the last video part.

    Ok guys – let’s start rocking!

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