Pantera Style Backing Track

In the last video I explained how to get the sound of Pantera’s Dimebag Darrel. Here is the backing track I used for that example solo. The original video, and ‘In the Style of Dimebag’ lesson, can be found here.

a pantera style backing track in the key of E minor

The Track

In the original lesson, I have added a link to download a version of the backing track. For this lesson, I’ve extended the track to make it into more of a jam track.

There are still three main sections to solo over, which I’ll talk about in a minute. In fact, if you wanted to play the solo from that lesson to this track, it would still fit…but then that’s boring, right?

If you check my ‘Sound like Dime’ lesson, I’ll explain the equipment you need to get his sound live. In the track, I’ve used more amp simulation. I do own a Randall Warhead X2 amp, which was another one of Dime’s signature amps. However, it’s much easier and quicker for me to use amp sims, rather than mic up and plug in a halfstack. Plus the sound can be adjusted a bit more.

The rhythm guitars are panned left and right, to produce a bigger sounds. This is something you see on a lot of Pantera tracks to make them heavier. One guitar on it’s own is not enough on a recording, apparently…

You can download the backing track from here.

All I’ve really used is a simulation of a tubescreamer, going into a multi-band distortion. Then I’ve added a bit of EQ and- probably most importantly- everything is sent through a convolver. I’m pretty happy with the result.

If you’re not sure what a convolver is, it’s probably a topic for another lesson. Basically I had it set to ‘Vulgar Display of Power’- which means that I’m using an impulse response from that album.

If you’re into recording, but short on equipment, convolvers and impulse responses are the way forward!

The Key

This track is in the key of E minor. This means that the E minor pentatonic scale would work over the whole thing, as would the E blues scale. Those are your ‘safe’ options here.

If you want to get a bit more technical, you can try the E natural minor scale, E dorian mode, or E phrygian. The ‘verse riff’ is literally just an E note, with some palm muting, which means you can use almost any scale that you know contains an E note over this section.

Pantera do tend to use many different keys in their songs, unlike the earlier periods of some bands. This isn’t particularly a good or bad thing, and is just to do with their style of writing.

Either way, I’ve chosen E minor for this track because the verse riff was inspired by tracks such as ‘Psycho Holiday’ or ‘Cowboys from Hell’. I could have chosen B minor, or A minor and it would have sounded equally as ‘Pantera’.

Intro Riff

The intro riff is a descending idea based on the E blues scale. A good choice for this section, then would be the E minor blues scale. Pantera sometimes mixed bluesy scales and grooves with a much heavier feel, which is what I’ve tried to copy here.

There are- of course- other choices here, and they will all produce a different effect. Because of the flat 5th in the riff, you could try using diminished sounds over it- something that Dime himself would do occasionally.

Ultimately, you’ll almost want to forget scales and use your ear. That’s what Dime would have done!

Also, it’s important to remember that this is a riff, created from a scale. When in this situation it doesn’t make sense to talk about ‘chords’ or ‘chord progressions’. This is just a riff that is in ‘E minor blues scale’, if that makes sense? That’s why that would be my first choice of scale.

Verse Riff

If you thought the intro riff was wide open for a lead guitarist to interpret, you’ve seen nothing yet!

This riff is mostly just the open low E string of the guitar, in rhythm with the drums and bass. It only changes right at the end with a C note on the third fret of the A string (the minor 6th in E). This means almost any scale with an E note will mostly work.

Nearer the end of the track, one of the guitars starts adding notes from the E natural minor scale. So, you might want to keep that in mind as you get towards the end.

Bridge Riff

The bridge adds in many more chords, but they are all power-chords. Power-chords are great because they’re only the root and fifth. You, as the soloist, get to decide whether they would be ‘major’ or ‘minor’.

Essentially, just ignore the ‘5’ part of each chord, and find a scale that contains the notes: B, F# and G. That’ll work.

Here are some examples that will fit: E minor pentatonic; E blues scale; E natural minor; E dorian mode.

The last part of this riff descends chromatically through B5, Bb5, A5 and Ab5. For this section in the example solo, I descend along with the chords. This is one option. There are different notes to choose that will all fit, but as long as you go towards the headstock by one fret for each chord, you won’t go far wrong.

The other option is to do the opposite, and go up towards the smaller frets. This will also work well, and it’s what I do right at the end of the original example solo.

Scales to Use

I’ve already mentioned most of the scales that will fit: the E blues scale, the E minor pentatonic, E natural minor and E dorian mode.

However, thinking just in terms of scales is probably not the best way to play over this track. Dime himself would have been thinking more rhythmically, and the truth is that it’s more important where you end your licks (and when), than it is to stick to a certain scale.

So, try forgetting your scales, and just using your own ears. This is much harder said than done, I know! Just make sure you have an idea where your lick is going when you start it. Target notes are really important here!

Don’t forget to check out the original lesson on how to sound like Dime.

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