How did you learn to play eruption?


Silver Supporting Member
Pete's videos would be a great place to start. He's the only guy that captures the little nuances. The phrasing is the tricky part.


Back in 1985, we were asked by a radio station to be in a local Battle of the Bands at a venue called Bessie's Boathouse in Norfolk, VA. We had never played in public (new band) but submitted a few songs and made the top 10. We felt pretty confident. We were a good group of players that held our own. They told us we would come up right after a break in the show where they had a kid they wanted to let play. We were in our late 20's and veterans of the music scene here, and he was 13 and never played out. How good could he be?

This good (although I have no idea how he learned it back then). Need less to say we did NOT want to follow Scotty again. Amazingly good at that style of music. (He actually asked about 10 years ago if he could play in my band. I don't think that would have worked out. Slightly above my level) If you look there are plenty of videos of him. Victor Wooten convinced him to add slap to his guitar style. Interesting but not my thing.

Scotty at 13 (his performance before us)
Scotty at 18 (still playing local bars)
Scotty some years ago
Last and best (I promise...)
Seems Guthrie Govan was impressed with him.

In answer to the OP, I still can't come close to playing Eruption today. But my friend here can.
Scotty is a beast of a player, his tapping skills are some of the most advanced anywhere.


Silver Supporting Member
I know now but didn’t then! Lol. He still lives here and you run into him. Glad he doesn't play out locally very often. I would never get another gig.
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When I was just starting, someone showed me the tapping part. I worked out a very bad approximation by ear. There have been a variety of sources ( youtube, watching people play it, guitar magazine tabs etc...) to help improve my rough parts. In 80s everybody played it to varying degrees, but it takes many dedicated hours working on VH chops to get close.

It's a lifelong pursuit.
Agree, I went in stages including: local hotshot teaches me tapping, ear training), Vai's transcription in GP mag, GFTPM transcription, various GW transcriptions, youtube (PT one is great!), and more ear training thrown all in there.
Still working on it, lol. Best I've heard is Dweezil IMO.


I grew up playing in the mid-80s and eventually came up with a version of my own that fooled fellow classmates at parties into thinking that I could play it! They recognized it immediately and were impressed, so mission accomplished. Carlos Cavazo's "Battle Axe" was another go-to, but my regurgitation of that one was much more faithful to the original than how I played Eruption.

I remember seeing Wolf Marshall's transcription in Guitar For The Practicing Musician around that time (my bible back then... man do I miss that magazine!) and trying to learn it note for note, thinking that Eddie played it precisely that way every time in concert. I never made it past the first few bars.. it wasn't until seeing him play it live for the first time on "Live Without a Net" that I realized that wasn't the case. That was a slightly relieving discovery!


Interesting bits maybe,

The tapping part is basically arpeggio triplets based on iㅡivㅡVIIㅡIII

It's a circle of 5ths progression that was used in Baroque by Bach, Handel, Vivaldi etc.

Jon Lord used to throw some of that into Deep Purple and Ritchie sometimes did as well.

In Eruption it's C#m F#m B E

In Jon Lord's Bach like keyboard solo in Burn it's GmㅡCmㅡFㅡB♭

EVH liked Burn and Ritchies Burn riff (which seems to be loosely based on fascinating rhythm).

So EVH goes

C#m F#m B E (very similar to Jon Lord)

and then from there EVH uses the classic rock progression ie Gimme Shelter E D C which is basically Keiths Major version of the Natural Minor (Em D C).

So it's then

C#m F#m B E C D E

and then he descends in a sliding way from there to the ending ( E D C B(7) from memory) and then a leading tone ending very common in Classical, alternating rapidly from B(7) to Em which is basically a leading tone ending (B7) Eb note to the (Em) E note.
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needle to the vinyl...needle to the vinyl

I have never had any interest to learn one of my hero's magic tricks
Yep, no resources like YouTube or Guitar World magazine back then. My record player had 16 speed, which made the transcribing an octave lower in a different key, so you had the make the necessary adjustments. It was painstaking, but I"m glad I had the experience.


Silver Supporting Member
Most likely learned it from the aforementioned issue of Guitar FTPM. It's possible I learned some of it from my guitar teacher and/or other local kids. I'm sure I never played it as well as I thought I did. I recently posted a video of the tapping section that got a lot of my friends excited. I told one of them the secret - the tapping section of Eruption might be the easiest EVH thing to play. It seems like the only "straight" thing he ever played.


I first heard it in the mid 80's but by then EVERYONE was tapping. Every local band, regardless of the type of music, the guitarist was going to go tappity tap in most of the songs. I decided not to bother. Actually, I haven't seen anyone doing it for years.


I learned it by ear off my vinyl (pretty much trashed the record by doing it with all the scratches of placing the needle too)... it was soooo slow going, but I had it close to note for note at one point. Man he was so inspiring to me at pretty much all ages. His intensity at all times is nothing short of incredible. Every note has full intention behind it and just SOOO in the pocket.

I am still in mourning to be honest.

Richard Elg

Silver Supporting Member
Not gonna lie, I learned it from Pete Thorn's videos on youtube. I didn't grow up in the age of learning things off of vinyl. I have a good ear and learn songs by ear all the time, but sometimes I take the easy way out and pull up a youtube vid :dunno. Probably because I don't have as much time to play as I wish I did.

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