Before tackling this piece you may feel the need to fast for a few days while meditating under a metal pyramid… Failing that you could just grab a strong coffee and jump right in! All the picks there are. There are loads of techniques to master if you want to play this tune convincingly. Take your time, patience will be rewarded. There are obviously various transcriptions of this track in existence already, but my main criticism with these is with the tab. I go to great (sometimes ridiculous) lengths to ensure that the fingering is as accurate as possible. I’ve seen Steve play this song a couple of times and he usually starts the first four bars like this:
In bar 2, the slide from A to B is played with the second finger (or use the third if you have small hands). Then, while the B note is still ringing, place your first finger behind the second finger on the same fret and remove the second ringer. This finger swapping doesn’t (shouldn’t) change the sound of the note but it now enables you to stretch to the high E on the same string for sonic continuity. I believe that these little fingering idiosyncrasies provide a far greater insight into a player then just tabbing out the right notes on any old fret. Those of you not used to large stretches should make sure that your thumb is fairly central to your hand position, in other words behind the second finger and not pointing back towards the headstock. This enables your hand to “open out” more easily.
The first time through, the melody is played on the rhythm pick-up with the minimum of vibrato. Switch to the treble pick-up at the beginning of bar 17 and add a little more vibrato as the track starts to build.
The subtle wang-bar manipulation (for example in bar 24) is very reminiscent of Alan Murphy or Allan Holdsworth and you’ll probably find bar 36, and especially the drop of a fourth in bars 52-53, may take some practice before you can successfully perform them in tune. I find it easier if you keep some part of your hand or arm in contact with the body when doing this to act as a point of reference. The wangy stuff in bars 76-79, however, works better when the hand is floating. There’s nothing too difficult until bar 82…
Now, as a transcriber I feel that it’s my duty to notate what’s actually played as accurately as possible. However, as a guitarist I know that it’s practically impossible to duplicate the lines as written – even Steve probably couldn’t play it exactly the same way again. The best thing to do here is to look for the basic patterns in For the Love of God that Steve’s using and go from there.
Bars 88-89 contain some tremolo flicks created by pointing the arm towards the bottom of the guitar (where the jack socket or strap button is), pulling the arm down (so the note goes up) and then flicking your hand off the end of the bar in an action not too dissimilar to flicking a cigarette lighter. This works great on a guitar with a Floyd Rose trem.
In bars 91-95 there’s another example of finding a pattern and playing it as fast as possible, so try not to be put off by the uneven note groupings. On a musical note, I’d say that the C#s in bar 91 are probably accidental due to the way Steve plays the lick: using his 1st, 2nd and 3rd fingers instead of his 1st, 2nd and 4th, which would facilitate keeping the hand in more of a fixed position.
Bars 97-104 require some familiarity with the art of sweep picking. Actually, if you’ve never tried this before then you might find that the first five bars are quite a good practice pattern before it takes off with one of Steve’s favourite sweeping shapes (a minor seventh arpeggio with a fourth in the bass) which he uses to fly around the neck with. There’s something very similar to this.
In bar 110 of song For the Love of God, the low B string on Vai’s Ibanez 7-string is brought into play – but fear not. You can play the lick on a standard six string by dropping the low E down to D with the tremolo arm (that’s exactly what I had to do).
The wah pedal is used to death in the final section in order to create a very vocal performance. Having not really used one before I kept forgetting to move my foot, but I think you can get the general idea from my performance.
Obviously this is a very difficult piece to play if you want to pull it off convincingly and the best advice I can give is to practise all the assorted techniques very, very, very slowly.
It’s a part of Steve Vai For the Love of God guitar tab and sheet.
Through the link below you can download a full transcription of
For the Love of God with backing track
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