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Guitar Lessons with Brandon Reihana – Break Through Consciousness

Guitar Lessons with Brandon Reihana – Break Through Consciousness

Jan 19, 2013

2011 Profile Pic Brandon Reihana is an Ibanez endorsed guitarist who is perhaps best known for his contribution to the band Blindspott, as part of the line-up that produced the certified Platinum album End The Silence. He has toured and played alongside internationally acclaimed acts such as Metallica, Linkin Park, Tool and Deftones. Since then, he has been a member of the metal band New Way Home, who were recently signed by Warner Music. Brandon recently left New Way Home to focus on his true passion – instrumental guitar rock, following in the footsteps of his influences like Joe Satriani,  Steve Vai and Jason Becker. He is currently working on his solo debut, a five track EP called Break Through Consciousness which will be released in early 2013.

Hello world!

This is my first ever guitar column so welcome, everyone!

In this column we will be going through some licks from my forthcoming instrumental rock EP Break Through Consciousness. We will look into how they were created and work on how you could go about creating your own unique licks, runs or riffs using similar concepts. There’s something for players of all skill levels – aside from the main lick, I’ll include a simplified section which will help you develop the technique required to execute the phrase. So here we go!

Ocean Nebula

This is the intro from the track entitled Ocean Nebula. This lick was written on my 7 string which was tuned to drop Bb at the time. It was just one shape over 3 strings, and really started off as an exercise I used to warm up. One day, however, I instantly heard the rhythm guitars in my head and recorded it right away. Don’t worry – I might have come up with it on a 7 string, but these licks are all 6 string friendly!

A quick word on theory – I use a lot of theory in my playing, but if it sounds alien to you at first do not be discouraged, theory is not necessarily something you need to be concerned with to make music, it’s really more about using your ears and letting them lead the way. I started off with no idea of what theory was and followed what I heard in my head, and it worked out fine! Theory does of course open you up to some new possibilities, and so during the course of these lessons, I’ll try and slowly incorporate some theory, but for now let’s focus on some  cool sounding licks.

Oceans Nebula Main 

The opening lick uses the C Dorian and D Phrygian scale shape over an Eb and F Major chord progression, making the lick a Lydian and Mixolydian scale respectively. The line basically ascends and descends the scale.

Here is the intro lick, slowed down:

Let’s compare the intro run to the C Dorian ScaleThis example will give you an idea of how to create your own licks. By removing notes from an otherwise stock-standard run up and down the scale, we can create something interesting and cool. This approach has been used on a higher level by guitarists like Jason Becker and Marty Friedman to discover exotic scales and create their own distinctive sounds.

If we look at the intro lick, it has one note missing compared to the C Dorian scale and that is the note on the D string (4th String) 3rd fret.

Oceans Nebula Dorian Comparison

Slow Burn

In the “Slow Burn” section of each column, we’ll run through a simplified version of the concepts above for the theory averse (thesamurai says, “Hah, like me!”) and beginners. The licks we run through here will help you build the foundations of your knowledge and technical ability to be able to play the more involved passages.

Ascending the scale

A Major - Ascending

This is a basic Major scale. I use this scale and the shape in particular because it helps build strength in all four fingers as they are all being utilized. This shape can be moved all over the fretboard so try memorizing the shape of the scale and then move it up and down the low E string.

Descending the scale

A Major - Descending

Now put them both together

This exercise is the building block for licks like the Ocean Nebula intro. Once you have mastered this, try experimenting with removing one note from the scale. Change the note you remove until you come up with something that sounds good to you. You can also just play a portion of the scale instead of the whole thing – your imagination is the limit.

 A maj asc and desc

Across the universe (actually, just the fretboard)

A Major across the fretboard – this exercise will help you travel across more of the fretboard and get you out of that box shape playing.

 A major two octaves

Play these exercises slow at first – focusing on playing them cleanly and use down and up picking (alternate picking). Once you get these into your muscle memory you can then begin to slowly increase the speed to your heart’s content.

Here are two click tracks that you can use to practice the slow and fast tempo versions of these licks.

I hope you all get something from my column and we will see you next month, thanks for checking it out! Feel free to leave any questions you might have in the comment section and I will get back to you with a reply as soon as possible.

Brandon Reihana


  1. Hamish (@hamo_d) says:

    Awesome to have you doing this man, thanks heaps! Looking forward to working through your columns – if my two year old ever lets me!

    1. Hey Hamish, thanks for checking out the column man! Really happy you are digging it! Man you are awesome I hope your kid gives you time for the next column:)See ya next month!

  2. […] a little into unusual scale construction – if you haven’t read it yet, check it out right here. If you have, then read on and enjoy the creative teachings of this otherwordly guitar player! […]

  3. MAGNUSWOLF says:

    Hey man awesome stuff, my cuzzie pointed me in your direction (super stoked he did) across the universe is great tool for my playing creativity,i look forward to the next instalment THANX FOR PUTTING YOURSELF OUT THERE

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