Author Archives: Roman Astral

The Harmonic Minor Scale

Remember 80s Metal? For awhile there, Neo-Classical got really big and you guessed it, that’s why we’re going over the Harmonic Minor scale. The Harmonic Minor scale was the most used scale by the Neo-Classical Metal guitarists of the 80s, until of course in the late-80s, someone gave them a memo to all start learning Jazz Fusion and Metal started getting really weird.

Well, here’s an ode to the 80s before things got really weird. It’s one of the three scales I warm up with in the morning.

What is the Harmonic Minor scale?

Simply put, it’s the minor scale with the seventh note sharped. Yes, it’s that easy. That’s what gives it that exotic sound.

With the following fingers:
1 – Index finger
2 – Middle finger
3 – Ring finger
4 – Pinky

The Harmonic Minor scale

The Harmonic Minor scale

Once again, I used E because it’s easier. You get two dots so you can see exactly where it is on the guitar.

Learn the pattern. Play it forwards and backwards. Then start playing it in other keys on the fretboard.

Go for accuracy first

Like always, go for accuracy first. Learn it and get the scale to flow well. The speed will come. Get accuracy down first. Learn it correctly before building up your speed. That’s very important and I can’t emphasize how important that is. Very few things sound worse than a fast player who’s missing all over the place. That stuff sounds like crap. (Don’t be that guy).

Once you’ve mastered it, build it into licks and runs. Throw in some bends. Heck, incorporate it into your riffs. Riffs built off the Harmonic Minor scale sound really cool.

Randy Rhoads used this scale in one of my favorite Ozzy Osbourne songs – Revelations. This scale is what gives the song such an exotic sound.

Enjoy! There’s no limit what you can do with this scale.


Roman orchestrations Astral Eyes
Roman writes the orchestrations for Astral Eyes. He plays Guitar and Piano and has a Bachelor’s degree in History.

The Blues Scale

I use the Blues Scale as one of my three warm-up scales. In any order, I start the morning off with the Major scale, the Harmonic Minor scale, and the Blues scale. I’ll go into the other two another day, but today, I’ll focus on the Blues scale.

What is the Blues Scale?

The Blues Scale is simply a pentatonic scale with an additional flatted fifth. It’s very simple, but sounds quite awesome.

With the following fingers:
1 – Index finger
2 – Middle finger
3 – Ring finger
4 – Pinky

Simply take the diagram and practice that pattern up and down the neck, forwards and backwards. I chose E because E has 2 dots. Let’s keep it simple.

The Blues Scale

The Blues Scale

Starting from the fat E string, play with your index finger on the twelve fret and your pinky finger on the fifteenth fret, then work your way up. Do it slowly and accurately at first. Go for accuracy first. Let speed develop with time.

Don’t rush speed

Don’t rush speed. Speed will come. You should never rush speed. That’s a shortcut you don’t want to take because your sound will suffer, big time.

You want to practice this very slowly. Get a really nice flow first. With repetition comes accuracy and with accuracy comes speed. I know speed is a bad word to some, but whatever. I happen to think you should have as many weapons in your arsenal as possible. If you can play the mean Blues, great. If you can play fast, great. Or if you can play jazzy, great. If you can be groovy, great. The more tricks you have up your sleeve, the better. Don’t limit yourself because some jackass got offended because he’s being a purist snob.

So learn this scale if you don’t already know it. Learn it up and down the neck. Become accurate at it first, then let the speed develop on its own. You can incorporate it into your licks or runs or other bags of tricks. There are times when I’ll do this one on its own too. It’s got a pretty cool sound. Add a few bends somewhere in there and you’re golden.



Roman from Astral Eyes
Roman is one of two guitarists in the twin lead guitar band Astral Eyes.

Image of Roman shot by Kate. Thanks Kate!

You do have time to practice guitar

Yes, you do have time to practice guitar. I’m assuming if you’re reading this, you have a day job. If this isn’t a complaint of yours, you can safely ignore this article. If however, you feel like you do not have time to practice, read on.

To make time to practice guitar, you need to make time to practice. You need to start creating the right habits. One thing you’ll see in life is that people who are good at anything have consistently good habits. People who are bad at everything tend to have very bad habits. Luck actually plays a small part in life. You might hate me for saying this, but it’s true. Some folks are consistently unlucky, but with the right habits, they can make the best out of bad luck. But that’s another rant for another time. Let’s talk about practicing guitar.

Pick up a guitar first thing in the morning

What do you do the very first thing in the morning? Pick your nose? Drink coffee? Check your email? OK, if you didn’t answer “practice guitar” or anything equivalent, you gave the wrong answer. Very first thing you should do in the morning, before the coffee and before checking your email is pick up your guitar. Even if it’s for only five minutes, pick up the guitar and practice scales.

Yes, you don’t want to be late for work. I get that. Then only do it for five minutes. At least you got your scales in for the day.

You need to do that daily. Every. Single. Day. Wake up, grab your guitar, and do scales. If you got ten minutes, even better. Practice first thing in the morning. Always. No excuses.

Find time to practice guitar while watching TV

Second, do you watch TV? If you answered no, then you have time to practice. If you answered yes, then practice guitar while watching TV. It may drive your girlfriend or your boyfriend nuts, but that’s their problem. They’ll get used to it. Grab the guitar, don’t plug it into the amp, and practice while watching TV.

You can multitask. Your ancestors did it. If you’re watching an hour show, get an hour in. You’ll still absorb the show but more importantly, you’ll get your hour of practice in.

Every chance you get, practice. Coming home for lunch? Squeeze in five to ten minutes of practice. You cooked and the food is in the oven? Good. That gives you time to practice guitar. Doing laundry? Let the machine do the work and practice your guitar.

Every chance you get. Make time to practice guitar. Get those good habits going and within only a few years, you’ll be a pretty good guitarist. It’s all about time. The more time you practice, the better you will be.


Roman from Astral Eyes
Roman is the Guitarist, Pianist, Composer, and Orchestrator for the world’s first Romantic Metal band – Astral Eyes. Their first album “Another Sacrifice Gone Wrong” is available now!.

Image of Roman shot by Kate. Thanks Kate!

Metal is about to enter a second Golden Age…

Heavy Metal music is about to enter a second Golden Age. How do I know this? I don’t. It’s a prediction. However, we have some signs:

1. People are saying that Metal in America is dead. We’ve heard this before when in the late 70s, the talking heads declared Metal dead and punk to be king. We all know what happened next.

2. The experts are declaring that music in general is dying because nobody can make money except for a very few pop acts. I hesitate to call these pop acts “artists” because most of these people are performers, not artists. Artists involves making art. This ain’t art.

3. The kids need something to listen to. I’ve talked to so many kids who are musically stuck in previous generations because they can’t stand the most of the music coming out today. (You may interpret this as a bad thing, but it’s a really good thing. It’s like buying into the stock market when everyone else has left it).

4. You don’t need a major label to record good music. There’s an excess today of extremely talented Producers and guess what? They’re charging less than they were charging in the 80s and 90s. Bad for them. Good for young bands with limited budgets. For the first time in your lifetime, you can hire these people with a bank loan or credit cards to record a full album. This has never happened before. You’d always need a record label to front you the money. Now, you can do it yourself.

5. There’s an excess of places where you can get people to listen to your music. Not too long ago, you had the radio and MTV. And that’s it. If you don’t get on the radio and/or MTV, you don’t get heard. Period. You had no career. This is a pretty epic change.

So, what does this all have to do with Metal?

Everything. Except for the 80s, Metal has been underground. Metal still has a strong, devoted following. More devoted than any other form of music. By far. Metalheads are more devoted to their music than punks are to theirs, or rap fans to theirs, or ska fans to theirs, or jazz fans to theirs.

Just being realistic. You know this is true because you’ve seen it first hand.

All we need now is for four or five Metal bands to lead the way. When it happens, it will be the second Golden Age of Metal. Mark my words. It will happen sooner than later.

How to get a Killer Metal Tone

How to get a Killer Metal Guitar Tone

I’m going to give you some pointers on getting a killer Metal guitar tone. Now keep in mind, guitar tone is subjective. What might be music to one’s ears may be noise to another. But for Metal, the majority of guitarists with over a decade experience will agree with at least half of what I say for a reason.

The honest truth is tone is about half technique, half equipment. You can have a guitarist with the best equipment, but if she’s a shitty guitarist, she’ll get a shitty guitar tone. I’m not talking about performance here, I’m talking straight up tone. Now, take a technically proficient guitarist with mediocre equipment, and she’s getting some pretty good tones out of what she has to work with. So first off, work on your technique. Equipment is secondary.

Guitar tone depends on several physical things – the guitar’s body, the guitar’s pickups, and the amps. There are even minor things that will affect your tone, like old dirty strings will sound like old, dirty strings. And of course, a bad chord will make the worst sounds at the worst possible moments.

But assuming you have decent, relatively new strings and working chords, you want a heavier guitar. Heavier guitars tend to have better sustain and they are less likely to have muddy sounds.

tube amps help considerably in how to get a killer Metal guitar toneThe second thing you want is a tube amp. We could argue until we’re blue in the face which tube amp is best for Metal, but 9 out of 10 Metal guitarists who have been playing for awhile will go with getting a tube amp over a solid state one. Now, you can get good sounds from a solid state modeling amp. You don’t absolutely need a tube amp to get a killer Metal tone. But solid state amps break up at higher volumes, whereas when you push a tube amp to its limit, that’s when it sounds great. And, I’m assuming you’ll be playing in clubs or recording in a real studio. So you’ll want to turn it up.

And lastly you need good pickups. I used to be a Seymour Duncan fan boy. I love the pickups Randy Rhoads used. But I have one guitar with DiMarzio’s and you know what? They’re just as good. Pickups are another thing that we can argue until we’re blue in the face on which pickups help you get that killer Metal tone, but once again, it’s subjective. Don’t cut corners here though, because 9 out of 10 Metal guitarists who have been playing for awhile will agree that cheap pickups are cheap for a reason – they tend to suck.

Now, all that said, assuming your technique is really good, for some odd reason, some amps don’t work well with some guitars and some pickups don’t sound good with some guitars. You absolutely have to bring your favorite guitar into the guitar shop and try her with different amps. This is a MUST. You’ll have to find a combination that fits together.

Lastly, this is my personal opinion. I do not like using too many effects. I prefer to go guitar straight into the amp 90%+ of the time. That’s just me though. The more you cut the signal, the more you affect the tone.

And one last thing – I don’t like active pickups. I just don’t like them. Yes, there are absolutely awesome guitarists out there who use active pickups. Not denying that. I’m just saying that I don’t like them.

If you actually want to hear my playing, go here. For these songs, I used various tube amps. Each amp is different, but generally for rhythm tones, I have the bass around 80%, the mid-range around 40%, and the treble around 90%. For lead tones, I generally have them all around 60%. But keep in mind, like I said for getting a killer Metal tone, there are a lot of factors. Each setup is different and you’ll have to adjust accordingly. Keep fiddling around with the knobs until you find something you like.

-Roman (the guitarist from Astral Eyes)

Roman Astral Eyes guitarist composer

Roman is a Classically trained Composer. He plays Guitar and Piano for Astral Eyes. He’s also an amateur historian, a gun nut, and a fan of the Green Bay Packers who still has a soft spot for Brett Favre, despite the harsh breakup.

Article and image reprinted by from by permission from both Vampiress Records and Astral Eyes

Photograph of amp tube by Olli Niemitalo. Photographer licensed this image for public domain. Thanks Olli!