Just as the Blue Note label suggested jazz of certain quality in the ’50s, Shrapnel Records connoted to the discerning guitarist the most supersonic shred on the planet in the ’80s. (Yeah, I just compared Shrapnel to Blue Note … it was either that or Stax …) TeamRock.com recently ran a profile of the legendary guitar oriented label and its impresario of arpeggios, Mike Varney. The man himself weighs in on the thought behind starting the fabled label:

I figured, ‘I play guitar pretty well. I’m going to find ten guys that can wipe the floor with me and see what happens.’ I got a loan from my father and started Shrapnel.

Though the guitarists releasing music under Varney were known for bombastic playing—think Vinnie Moore, Joey Tafolla, and Jason Becker to name a few of the most terrifying—they weren’t without a deeper musicality, at least to their producer. Here’s Varney on the eventual flood of demos he received:

It got ridiculous. I’d have guys calling me up saying: ‘I can play Flight Of The Bumble Bee at two hundred and forty bpm,’ or, ‘I think I’m the fastest guitar player in the world right now.’ I’d say: ‘Yeah, but can you play with the tastefulness and musicality of Richie Kotzen or Paul Gilbert?’

Read much more, including quotes from many of the above at TeamRock.

Right here.


Guitar maestro Marty Friedman recently shared ten albums that have shaped his own music. If you’re up on Friedman, it’s no surprise that he points to albums like KISS Alive and Black Sabbath’s Sabotage, but you might not expect a nod to Beach Boys Endless Summer. Here’s his take on that compilation, via Classic Rock:

If you learn all the Beach Boys songs, you’ll get everything you need to know about chord structure and harmony. The most genius thing is write something very complex that sounds totally simple and easy to listen to. Really, this is some of the finest songwriting of all time.

Read about all ten at Classic Rock.

Right here.

Blue Voodoo

Blue Voodoo

Here’s Marty Friedman in his Crate days. In ’96 when this ad was circulating, Marty released  the solo album True Obsessions and was on the eve of Megadeth’s Cryptic Writings.

Taken from Guitar School, June 1996.

From the Rooney Archive.

Martin Adam Friedman

Marty Friedman spent all of the ’90s in Megadeth. This Charvel/Jackson ad doesn’t explicitly name the connection, but the skull motif and “Symphony of Destruction” headline make it clear. The band was still working Countdown to Extinction when this ad ran in Guitar World, February 1993.


Marty Friedman is set to headline a string of dates in Europe this fall. The “Guitar Universe 2012” tour will also feature Frenchman Stéphan Forté of Adagio and the Israeli Yossi Sassi of Orphaned Land. Friedman explained how this international conglomerate came about. From Blabbermouth:

Yossi and I became friends on my 2011 solo tour. We came up with the idea of putting together a concert tour with decidedly unique and exotic guitarists, each from a different part of the world with their own ethnic sound and approach to their music.

Read more at Blabbermouth.

Right here.

"One listen and you'll understand why pros call it The Beast."

Engl is a German amplifier company that has been around since the early ’80s. Nowadays you’ll see endorsements from big names such as Ritchie Blackmore, Marty Friedman, Jeff Loomis, and Michael Romeo. This particular ad for the 100 watt Straight head, on the other hand, has quotes from Buck Dharma along with Peter Harris and George Marinelli from Bruce Hornsby and the Range and Pat Buchanan (!) of Hall and Oates.

Taken from Guitar World, June 1989.

It came out just over a week ago that Riot guitarist Mark Reale had been hospitalized due to symptoms of Crohn’s disease. Now the 57-year-old has died. From Metal Underground:

He had battled the disease for most of his life, and was bravely attempting to practice to perform with the band at their scheduled shows, before his condition worsened.

Read more, including a statement from the band right here.

Though Riot was never a household name, there is widespread reaction in guitar circles to Reale’s passing. From Marty Friedman’s Facebook feed:

Rock City, Narita and Fire Down Under are 3 of my favorite albums of all time. I wore all 3 of them out and have loads of great memories attached to all those great songs. Thank you for the music. Friends please take care of yourselves.

According to the Houston Chronicle, Reale died in San Antonio after having been in a coma. Read that account right here.