The Style of Marty Friedman

The Style of Marty Friedman

Welcome to another Guitar Interactive Tech Session, this time looking at the hugely unique style ex-Megadeth man, Marty Friedrn.


I’ve written a piece very much in style of Megadeth era Marty with a Dave Mustaine inspired riff so you can see just how Marty would use his unique phrasing ideas over a traditional Metal backing, the sort of thing you’ll be able to take and use in our own solos right away.

Looking at the riff found in the first four bars you’ll find a typical Dave Mustaine riff, though over the years spent in Mcgadeth this style became a big part of Marty’s writing style too. Looking at the notes you can sec that we have a series of ascending arpeggios which I’ve outlined in the tab. Note wise everything firs nicely into the E Locrian sound (E,F,G,A,Bb,C,D — 1‘,b2,b3,4,b5,b6,67) Though it’s probably easier to think of it as an E minor sound which suits E minor pentatonic (E,G,A,B,D — R,b3.4,5,b7) or the E blues scale (E,G,A,Bb,B,D — R,b3,4,b5,5,b7). As an example, if you look at the phrase played in bars 5-8 you’ll see that were just using the minor pentatonic scales and the blues scale.


Bars 9-12 mirrors Marty’s famous solo on Tornado of Souls and showcases how happy Marty is to just lay back and play a good melody that the listener will remember. It’s really worth getting your mind around something simple like this because it’s easy to play too many notes in a solo, and it’s easy to be forgettable.

Bar 13 gives us an introduction to some of the more exotic sounds Marty is fond of using. This is a huge subject with lots of confusion and even disagreements from source to source. For example, you’ll hear names like Kumoi, Hirojoshi and Iwato but the Hirojoshi scale alone is described as three different scales depending on who you’re talking to, either R,3,#4,5,7 — R,b2,4,5,127 or R,2,163,5,136. What you can draw from that is that as “exotic” as these sales can sound, they’re still drawn from a western system of notes, for example, that first spelling looks a lot like Lydian, the second looks like Phrygian and the last looks like Aeolian. What we can take from this is that exotic scales are nothing more than stripped down versions of full scales, but the beauty being that we’re forcing intervals into our playing that aren’t usually there in the more scale based playing of a lot of shredders.

Take a look at the pattern played in bar 13 which you could see as a pool of notes taken from a three note per string scale but instead were just playing two notes on each string. You’ll see a slight variation on this shape in bar 23, 32 and 40. The way the lick is finished is instant Marty, a real exotic sounding bend. The note Bb is bent to B (a good note) then suddenly released and then slowly re-bent to the sweet sounding note. This gives a sound that you might expect to hear on a fretless instrument like a shamisen or koto.

Another big part of Marty’s style is his melodic use of arpeggios, you can see examples of this with the big F and G major arpeggio run starting in bar 15 before it morphs into a diminished 7 pattern in bar 19 before moving back to one of the exotic sounding two note per string patterns.

Marty Friedman, live at Tochka, Moscow, Russia
Marty Friedman, live at Tochka, Moscow, Russia

In bar 25 we have another trademark Marty idea reminiscent of his solo on Tornado of Souls. This three against four idea (a repeating three note idea played four notes per click) is really a basic arpeggio or pentatonic idea moving up the two high strings, but as before it serves as a melody that the listener can hook onto.\As the solo begins to draw to a close you’ll notice more and more of these yearning bends, just pay attention to those bends in bar 33 and 38, classic Many and a great way to add a little bit of spice to your Rock and Metal playing.

That’s really all there is to this one. Spend a bit of rime with it with a metronome and cry out some of the licks in your own solos as there’s no better way to have these working fast. Aside from that, the best thing you can do is go out and check out any of Marty’s Megadeth albums or his solo work to see just how the master does it and see if you can steal any more ideas!

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