Riff Playbooks: Nick Johnston


Riff Playbooks column is designed to make you a better player. By gleaning some insight into the technique, composition, and execution of these fine riffs by fine SH artists, you are bound to make headway in your own playing. We cordially invite you to steal a page from our books in order to expand your own diabolical playbook of musical wizardry (not literally though, the books are expensive to create).

When we think of Nick Johnston, the first thing that comes to mind is his wild and emotive hyper-speed soloing. His particular brand of confounding shred, rooted in his hybrid picking technique and bluesy tendencies, is at the forefront of most peoples minds when thinking of his music. Overlooked by some though, is his ability to craft expansive and cinematic progressions.

In this edition of "Riff Playbooks" we sit down with Nick to get the story on this aspect of his writing. The section that Nick shows us from his song "Fear Had Him By The Throat" is a perfect example of the type of melodic landscape that he carves out to frame his leads. The chords at work here shift from melancholic to hopeful, and with a grandeur that implies an epic journey. This melodic storytelling is the backbone of Nicks music and plays a very important part in understanding his diabolical guitar genius. In the "Remarkably Human" guitar transcription book, we are looking at bars 1 - 12 on pages 68 - 69. And If you're feeling brave, grab a free copy of the guitar tab here

Here's the section slowed down:


And here's Nick answering our questions at a 10 - 1 ratio. 

To check out The Complete Guitar Transcription for Nick's album, Remarkably Human, click HERE.  

If you'd like to listen to the song Fear Had Him By The Throat in its entirety, head to one of the links below: