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I guess this one needs no introduction. “Don’t Stop Believin'” by
Journey is probably THE most popular song of the past 3 decades.
It’s enduring appeal comes from it’s great sing along chorus and cool guitar lines throughout. In this Don’t Stop Believin’ guitar lesson we will take quick look at the chords and riffs as well as the catchy guitar solo as played by the great Neal Schon.
At the beginning of the first lesson I will show you what Neal Schon plays during the intro section of the song including that fast picking sequence.
From there we make it to the verse which contains a lot of palm muted open string rhythms interspersed with close voiced triads high up the fretboard. There is a lot of guitar layering going on here as well as keyboard chords so it can be difficult to exactly recreate what is going on here with just one guitar. I used the way Neal Schon performs the part live as a guide.
After the quick little transition riff we get to the main riff of the song which is the song’s chorus. This singalong part has been played by countless guitar players. However, most of them don’t finger this riff exactly the Neal Schon does it. In this lesson you will learn his exact fingerings and chord voicings. Some of them are very unique. 🙂
The solo for Don’t Stop Believin’, which I teach in the second video lesson, is rather short and except for the very beginning, consists of only highly melodic and singable guitar parts that compliment the song perfectly.
To start the solo we do have some very quick ascending hammer-ons, but after that you can just lay back and let the notes sing. That isn’t to say the rest of the solo is easy. In reality, keeping all of those half step bends perfectly in tune can be a challenge.
You really have to use you ear and listen closely to every note to make sure it stays perfectly in tune. The bend at the end of the solo requires you to take the same note and bend it both a half step and a whole step. This can be quite tricky to perform well.
As with anything else on the guitar, take your time mastering those bends. While practicing each individual section, I find it a good practice technique to perform each phrase without bends first. I simply replace the bends with the actual notes that we are trying to bend to. For instance, if it is a half-step bend you are practicing, just play the string normally but one fret up from the bend. That will give you the actual sound you are aiming for. So you will play the phrase through once with no bends then go through it again trying to match all of those pitches exactly but this time with bends. After that, just keep repeating that same phrase just like that until you feel you have it nailed.
Neal Schon is no stranger to writing solos that become instant classics. I mean seriously, the guy has such a knack for creating highly singable, exciting and memorable solos that fit each song perfectly. Even though this solo to “Don’t Stop Believin'” is short, that doesn’t stop (pun intended) him from creating another classic within those short confines.
Any study of Neal Schon’s playing is usually fantastic for learning how to construct a solo that will tell it’s own story, perfectly compliment the song and still have lots of flashy guitar licks to sink your teeth into.
That’s about it from me today. See you guys soon!
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