5150 by Van Halen: A Guitarist's Perspective
"5150" is the seventh studio album by Van Halen, released in 1986. The album marked a significant change in the band's lineup, with Sammy Hagar replacing David Lee Roth as the lead singer. The album not only exceeded expectations, but gave them their first Billboard 200 number one spot. In this licklibrary guitar course, Sam Bell returns with another journey through the guitar parts from a Van Halen classic album, teaching you how to reproduce Eddie Van Halen’s riffs and guitar solos. From fiery fills and acrobatic leads to a meeting of simple crunching riffs paired with rhythm guitar virtuosity; this Classic Album course has something for every rock guitarist.
This article delves into the intricacies of each song and highlights the contributions of guitarists Eddie Van Halen and Sammy Hagar, as well as the techniques and scales used throughout the album.
Track 1: Good Enough
"Good Enough" starts the album with a bang, featuring a powerful riff in the E Mixolydian scale. The song is characterised by its galloping rhythms, power chords, and a driving tempo. The guitar solo, showcasing Eddie's signature tapped harmonics and alternate picking, is a testament to his virtuosity.
Track 2: Why Can't This Be Love
In this synth-driven track, the guitar parts are relatively subdued but still exhibit Eddie's unique style. The guitar solo is played in the E minor scale, and the legato phrasing adds a fluid feel to the melody. The song also features barre chords and octave melodies, providing a solid foundation for Hagar's powerful vocals.
Track 3: Get Up
"Get Up" is a high-energy track that showcases Eddie's incredible speed and precision. The song employs the E Phrygian Dominant scale, and the guitar riff is heavily influenced by syncopated rhythms. The solo features a combination of two-handed tapping, hammer-ons, and pull-offs, creating a mesmerising cascade of notes.
Track 4: Dreams
"Dreams" is another synth-heavy track with an uplifting melody. The guitar work is more subtle in this song, but Eddie's contribution is still evident. He employs arpeggiated chord progressions and sweep picking during the intro, creating a rich harmonic landscape. The guitar solo, played in the G major scale, features string bending, slides, and vibrato, adding an emotional depth to the song.
Track 5: Summer Nights
"Summer Nights" is a feel-good track that highlights Eddie's innovative playing style. The intro features a creative use of open-string riffs and altered tunings, giving the song a distinct, open sound. The main riff is built around the E major scale and incorporates palm muting to create a tight, rhythmic groove. During the guitar solo, Eddie makes use of whammy bar tricks and pinched harmonics to add excitement and character.
Track 6: Best of Both Worlds
"Best of Both Worlds" is a catchy, upbeat track that features a memorable riff in the G Mixolydian scale. The rhythm guitar parts employ power chords and chord progressions to provide a solid foundation for Hagar's soaring vocals. The guitar solo showcases Eddie's impeccable technique, including alternate picking, double-stops, and trills.
Track 7: Love Walks In
"Love Walks In" is a beautiful ballad that highlights the band's softer side. The song is built around the D major scale, and the guitar parts are characterised by arpeggios and clean chord progressions. Eddie's solo, played with a clean tone, employs legato techniques and slides to create a smooth, flowing sound.
Track 8: 5150
The title track, "5150," is a hard-rocking song with a driving rhythm and an infectious main riff in the A Dorian scale. The guitar work is characterised by power chords, palm muting, and syncopated rhythms. Eddie's solo is a masterclass in technical prowess, featuring two-handed tapping, hammer-ons, and pull-offs, along with dive bombs for added impact.
Track 9: Inside
"Inside" is a funky, experimental track that showcases the band's versatility. The main riff is based on the E Mixolydian scale, and the rhythm guitar parts are built around funky chord progressions and syncopated rhythms. Eddie employs various techniques, such as finger-picking, hybrid picking, and slap guitar to create a unique texture. The guitar solo features double-stop bends, unison bends, and chromaticism, showcasing Eddie's ability to adapt his style to suit the song's unconventional feel.
Lead Guitarists: Eddie Van Halen and Sammy Hagar
Eddie Van Halen is renowned for his innovative guitar techniques and virtuosic playing, which are on full display throughout "5150." His signature style is characterized by two-handed tapping, pinched harmonics, string bending, and whammy bar tricks. Eddie's contributions to "5150" helped shape the album's sound and showcase his incredible versatility as a guitarist.
Sammy Hagar, while primarily known as a vocalist, is also an accomplished guitarist. His rhythm guitar work complements Eddie's lead playing and adds depth to the band's sound. Hagar's style is rooted in blues and hard rock, and he employs techniques such as power chords, barre chords, and palm muting to create solid rhythmic foundations for the songs on "5150."
"5150" not only marked the beginning of a new era for Van Halen but also showcased the band's versatility and growth. Guitarists will appreciate Eddie Van Halen's masterful use of various techniques and scales, displaying his ability to create memorable riffs and solos in a range of styles.
This album serves as a valuable study tool for guitarists, highlighting the importance of melding technical skill with melodic sensibilities. By dissecting Eddie's playing throughout the album, one can learn essential techniques, modes, and approaches to the guitar that can elevate their own playing to new heights.
The combination of Sammy Hagar's powerful vocals and Eddie's innovative guitar work created a unique sound that has stood the test of time. "5150" is an album that not only guitarists but also all music lovers can appreciate for its unique blend of rock, pop, and virtuoso musicianship.
In conclusion, "5150" by Van Halen is an album that showcases the band's ability to create a diverse range of songs and styles, with guitar work that is sure to captivate and inspire any guitarist. Eddie Van Halen's innovative techniques and signature style are on full display, while Sammy Hagar's rhythm guitar work adds depth and richness to the overall sound. Whether you are a guitarist seeking to learn new techniques or simply a fan of the band, "5150" is a must-listen album that will not disappoint.
Guitar Techniques Used in "5150"
Throughout "5150," Eddie Van Halen and Sammy Hagar utilise a wide range of guitar techniques to create a diverse and captivating sound. Some of the key techniques featured on the album include:
- Alternate picking
- Tapped harmonics
- Double-stop bends
- Unison bends
- Pinched harmonics
- Tremolo picking
- Chord progressions
- Dive bombs
- Power chords
- Palm muting
- Barre chords
- Two-handed tapping
- Sweep picking
- Hybrid picking
- Travis picking
- Pick slides
- String bending
- Syncopated rhythms
- Open-string riffs
- Whammy bar tricks
- Bluesy bends
- Octave melodies
- Galloping rhythms
- Dual-guitar harmonies
- Arpeggiated chord progressions
- Altered tunings
Click on any of the links to view more in depth information about these techniques, and to find more Licklibrary lessons to develop these skills.
About The Tutor
Sam Bell has been playing guitar from the age of 4, since then he has played many styles from Funky Blues to screaming Metal/Fusion on 8 string guitar. A member of UK tech metal band ‘Mask of Judas’, he is also currently writing his own solo instrumental album. He also...