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DIAGRAMS 1-3 show three somewhat unusual chord voicings where, if you strum them upside down, you get the high notes sounding before the low ones have a chance to eat them up.

During the earliest days of Megadeth, even before David Ellefson was on bass, I jammed with a strange guitarist a few times, but we never played a gig together. He played a lot of really weird, cool chords, like those George Lynch and Warren DiMartini used sometimes.

I watched what he did, took several of those chords that I liked and worked them into a progression that I thought was pretty scary sounding.  

FIGURE 1 shows what I came up with, which is similar to something I do in “Looking Down the Cross.” As you can see, I used the chords from DIAGRAMS 1 and 2, and they’re picked upside down.

FIGURE 7 is a progression similar to one I play in “Holy Wars…The Punishment Due.”

FIGURES 2–6 show this part broken down into five small, simplified sections. I’m using upside-down picking for all the chords, most of which are major or minor diads. All I’m doing with these chords is playing a root note and a major or minor third above it, instead of the more typical root/fifth power chords.

There’s no mathematical reason for me doing this; it was merely for the colorful sound of the chords. I was listening to a lot of Merciful Fate and Diamond Head at the time, two bands that have a lot of really great riffs built around these same kinds of two-note major and minor-chord voicings, and I found myself really enjoying their songs.

To truly appreciate how much color these kinds of major and minor diads add to a riff, try playing FIGURE 7 again, this time substituting a root/fifth power chord for every chord. You’ll hear the difference immediately.


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