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By Rhys Lett

Cowboys From Hell – VCE Solo Performance Guitar

Pantera were the most popular metal band of the 90s. The instrumental skill of the band was driven by brothers Vinnie Paul on drums and Dimebag Darrell on guitar. This song signalled a change in their sound from glam power metal to modern thrash and groove.

Cowboys from Hell features in the single note category of the VCE Music Solo Performance Exam. From this group of songs you must perform at least one piece.

For assistance with VCE Music contact the Eastern Suburbs School of Music via the contact form on the right of this page or by calling Rhys on 0421 705 150.

cowboys from hell

Pantera guitarist Dimebag Darrell Abbot

Cowboys from Hell – Equipment

Your guitar should have humbucker pickups as you need to play with high levels of distortion. Dimebag famously used Dean Guitars. Your amp sound will need to be scooped. This involves taking the mid range out. Check out sound examples of the MXR Dime Distortion pedal to help capture the tone.

An additional touch can be using a flanger in the intro of the song. This part may be on the backing track you are using or can be played live before the first riff kicks in.

Cowboys from Hell – Structure

Intro – three riffs to learn. The song opens with the chorus riff played an octave higher. This drops when the band kicks in. Following this is the verse riff, introduced before the singing starts.

Verse – listen for the clever way the riff is split from how it was used in the intro to the verse. Further to this understand how variations are made by repeating parts.

Prechorus – short section of power chords followed by the a short E blues riff leading into the chorus.

Chorus – uses the riff learned in the intro.

Intro, Verse, Prechorus, Chorus – repetition of sections. The second chorus ends with power chords leading into the guitar solo.

Solo – this involves fast scale runs, crazy wide stretches to reach notes yet still is very melodic.

Post solo – the band plays a series of riffs.

Intro – recap of the high opening intro riff.

Chorus – repeat of the first chorus.

Outro – this uses the post solo riff. The song ends with a series of accents.

Cowboys from Hell – Technique

In order to perform a high quality version of Cowboys from Hell you will need to pratice:

  • E blues scale.
  • power chords.
  • palm muting.
  • alternate picking.
  • pinch harmonics.
  • vibrato on riffs and solos.