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Opeth: Fredrik Åkesson Masterclass

February 8th, 2013

[Fredrik’s Paul Reed Smith Signature Model guitar is in Standard Tuning: E A D G B E

String-Skipping / Tapping Lick

This lick utilizes both string-skipping and tapping techniques. Fredrik creates some interesting harmonic movement by outlining an Emin7 arpeggio, followed by a combination of Eaug(maj7) and Emaj7 arpeggios. He warns that “the tricky part is to mute the strings… it’s all about muting with this hand and that hand whenever you need to.” Pay special attention to ensure that all notes are cleanly separated and are not bleeding into one another when crossing strings.

“When I tap, I tap with my piss-off [middle] finger, because then I can still have the pick in my [hand]. So I have that ready if I need it. And that’s basically it… this type of widdly-woo lick.”

Fredrik Akesson - Opeth - String-Skipping / Tapping Lick

Heir Apparent Solo (2:56)

In this example, Fredrik demonstrates the solo from ‘Heir Apparent,’ perhaps the darkest and heaviest track off Opeth’s 2008 album Watershed. “It’s a mixture between harmonic minor and a bit of diminished scales in this solo.” Practice the final string-skipping diminished arpeggio lick slowly, making sure to build up sufficient left-hand strength to execute the patterns smoothly. The key to getting the right flow in this section is perform each note with consistent attack and volume.

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Opeth - Fredrik Akesson - Heir Apparent Solo

Hungarian Minor Lick

This lick based around Hungarian Minor scale patterns played in octaves. Hungarian Minor is the same scale as Harmonic Minor, but with a raised fourth degree. The resulting formula is 1, 2, b3, +4, 5, b6, 7, so in the key of E Hungarian Minor it translates to E, F#, G, A#, B, C, D#. Check out Fredrik’s tastefully placed bends in this lick, which add to the exotic nature of the scale.

Opeth - Fredrik Akesson - Hungarian Minor Lick

Nepenthe Solo (3:33)

“On the new album [Heritage], there’s a track called ‘Nepenthe,’ which is kind of a jazzy track, but it has a pretty freaked out solo, which I’m trying to play like a fusion guy or something.” Pretty freaked out indeed, this solo features some interesting phrasing and harmonic elements. Fredrik weaves in and out of minor pentatonic and whole tone scale fragments, bridging them with some chromatic passing tones to add that jazzy flavor.

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Opeth - Fredrik Akesson - Nepenthe


[Special thanks to Chris Robinson for his excellent camera work, Kim Kangwan and Paul Schneider for their top-notch transcriptions, Peter Boyle for his precision editing, and Cigar Masters of Worcester, MA for their warm hospitality.]

  • This is out of my league yet. I’ll come back to this piece when I have mastered my current level. Slowly but surely. That is the way to learn.

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  • knuklhed

    Hey mr. F.
    I want the SE. But.
    Do you actually play the SE model
    I will work OT to save money
    For the real PRS version
    If i have to buy the SE model
    How can i make it exactly like yours.
    My buddy and i saw
    You guys twice in Seattle. Friggen awesome.
    Make sure to make another round again in 13.

    • I’m not Fredrik, but I can tell you he used the same guitar you see in the video on stage later that night!

      • knuklhed

        Yea. The 2 nights we saw em I took pictures. And the Guitar had SE on the head stock. I was wondering if it was a real SE. If you say Yea Im gonna buy it today !
        Well Im gonna buy it either way. Thanks for the reply.

        • Jeremy

          Both Frederik’s and Mikael’s signature SE guitars are just that. SE models. They do not make non SE models of those signature models.

          Mikael talks a bit about that on the Live at Royal Albert Hall DVD.

          GREAT guitars.

  • Dylan

    I think there are too many bars on the Heir Apparent solo on the really fast run.

    • Are you sure? I just listened again and it seems it’s the right number of bars. There are, however, some differences between the studio version of the solo and the way he plays it in the masterclass.

  • Adam

    I think there’s a typo on the string skipping tapping part. On the 2nd line it should be 8-9-tap13 not 7-9-tap13-9-8 etc

    • Thanks for catching that – you are totally right! I updated the tab.

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