Learn how to play guitar like Josh Homme with our selection of riffs, licks, and scales for adding a QOTSA-style flavour to your music
Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme has a very unique guitar style. Often drenched in fuzz, his guitar riffs and licks defy the convention of the typical blues rock formula.
In this lesson we will be taking a look at some of his habits and learning a few tips and tricks that can get you adding a Homme-style flavour to your guitar licks in no time.
Crank up the fuzz for this one!
This riff has a few key QOTSA elements in there.
It is made up of some driving 8th note power chords. These really set the tempo and drive the riff forward. These driving 8ths appear in bars 1, 3 and 5.
The more of this riff you can play with down picking the more urgent it will feel.
Bars 2 and 6 share part of the driving 8th feel with some accented chords. The chord in this case is a D7 but there are some higher notes added from the Dmin pentatonic scale with the little finger on the B string.
Bar 4 contains a short riff phrase to break up to rhythm,
Bars 7 and 8 are 7th chords played with a choppy rhythm. The chords are Bb7, F7 and C7.
Josh Homme Scale
This scale is a scale that Josh didn’t invent, but it’s become closely associated with his particular style.
The scale is called the Lydian Dominant #2. It shares the characteristics of a Lydian mode with an additional #2 in place of the regular 2 interval. The #2 is a strange interval because we think of it as a b3 from a Pentatonic scale.
The Lydian mode is typically a major more and this #2 gives it a minor feel. The #4 from a Lydian is also the same as a b5 which we associate as the Blues note.
The combination of a #2 and a #4 give this scale a very unusual flavour.
Sliding Pentatonic Lick
This lick is based in the second shape of the minor pentatonic scale and is a sliding phrase that you can move around.
All the notes are pentatonic except for the 17th fret on the B which is a Natural Minor note.
The sliding phrases always start on an “&”. If you’re counting them, think of them as “& 1 &… & 3 & …”.
Single String Natural Minor Lick
This lick shares the same rhythmic idea as the previous lick but this time you’re playing Natural Minor notes along the B string.
For a cool effect, slide into the first note of each group and out of the last. Don’t worry too much about where the slide starts or ends, it’s more for effect.
The final bending phrase is counted as repeated dotted eighths, but if you haven’t tried to count in dotted eighths before (an 8th note plus a 16th note), then just listen to the example in the video and rhythmically mimic it.
Strange Intervals Lick
This lick highlights some of the strange intervallic movements you can make using the Lydian Dominant #2 scale.
There are parts where this lick feels like it’s going out of key before pulling back.
There is also a lot of leaning on the #2 and #4 notes which give certain parts a tension or slight dissonance. Josh Homme is a fan of licks and phrases that set you up with a picture in your head of where it will go before it takes you somewhere unexpected.