Just around the same time that it was announced that Gus G was going to be Ozzy Osbourne’s new guitarist The Rock House Method announced that Gus had signed a contract with them to produce and instructional DVD, a 2 DVD set covering Lead and Rhythm techniques that he has used throughout his recording career with Firewind. This DVD has therefore been widely anticipated and for those of you who have been waiting you certainly won’t be disappointed. As with all Rock House Method DVD’s you get an accompanying booklet in PDF format on the DVD which has all the Tabs that you need for each lesson and as a bonus all the video material is included in iPod compatible format as well. You can also get the backing tracks used on the DVD from the Rock House Method support site.
Gus G Lead & Rhythm Techniques is a little bit different to some of the recent Rock House titles that I have reviewed in that Gus doesn’t delve too much into the theory side of his lead licks, there are a few scales outlined in the first few examples that Gus uses such as the minor and harmonic minor scales with a couple of examples but from thereon in Gus takes extracts from his own tracks which focus on various techniques. Also the lessons jump around from rhythm to lead techniques so it is more like him sitting showing you all the cool stuff you can take from his playing to use yourself rather than a strictly structured linear course, this makes it very easy to just jump in at any point on disc 1 or 2.
To begin with Gus takes a few lead lines that use hammer-ons and pull-offs and bends before moving straight into some rhythm work where he talks about some different chord voicings and picking patterns and string muting for percussive effects. To illustrate what I was talking about before with Gus moving from rhythm to lead the next few lessons cover tapping, sweep arpeggios and diminshed riffs before go back to a “Pivoting Interval Song Rhythm”. Gus is a very tight rhythm player like all great solo guitar players so some of the rhythm lessons are actually more challenging than the lead lesson so Gus spends a good deal of time talking about Syncopated rhtyhms, palm muting and alternate picking which are all essential to play these examples successfully.
There are complete lead solos transcribed from some of Gus’ tracks as I mentioned before and “Into The Fire” is a great example using all sorts of techniques such as open string pedal notes, string skipping arpeggios, tapping and alternate picked scale runs. There is also a lesson on “Classical Pivoting” which is a very Yngwie-style technique and very tricky to master at the kind of speeds Gus plays it but as with all instructional courses don’t worry if you can’t play these examples at the same speed, take them slowly and build up your speed in your own time and it will make you a much cleaner and precise player, playing fast before your fingers are capable can lead to bad habits.
Towards the end of Disc 2 Gus does a complete Song Structure breakdown so you can see how he has incorporated all of his ideas and riffs and put them together into a song, this is a really great way to learn how to start writing your own songs. The track “The Silent Code” is the first of these song breakdowns and has some very challenging sections for both rhythm and lead playing. The second song analysed in this manner is “Head Up High” which again is a good workout especially with the lead scale riffs.
This DVD along with Jeff Loomis is my favourite that The Rock House Method have put out so far because this is exactly the kind of style that I like to play (or should I say try to play!) myself at home, there is a lot of material covered but Gus G is an excellent teacher who takes each lesson at a sensible pace so that anyone could follow along and his examples are clearly explained. This is a must have for all you rock guitarists out there who want to take your playing to the next level!