How To Arrange, Play, And Record Classical Music For The Electric Guitar

I am releasing a new album aptly entitled “Classical Music for the Electric Guitar." I would like to give some tips on how I was able to arrange play and record some of the greatest classical pieces for electric guitars.

The tracks I arranged and recorded for my new album “Classical Music for the Electric Guitar” are:

  • Rondo Alla Turca (Mozart)
  • Caprice No. 24 (Paganini)
  • Air on the G String (Bach)
  • Flight of the Bumblebee (Korsakov)
  • Sheep May Safely Graze (Bach)
  • Caprice No. 5 (Paganini)
  • Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring (Bach)
  • The Well-Tempered Clavier Book 1 in C Major Prelude (Bach)
  • The Well-Tempered Clavier Book 1 in C major Fugue (Bach)
  • Wachet Auf, Ruft Uns Die Stimme (Sleepers Awake) (Bach)
  • Bourrée in Em (For Two Electric Guitars) (Bach)
  • Fugue in Gm (Bach)

I think the first and foremost important thing for me was to make sure my guitar chops were together enough to perform these pieces. Songs like “Flight of the Bumblebee” and the Paganini pieces are some of the hardest songs known to man. I had to work on alternate picking, economy picking, sweep picking, tapping, string skipping, playing scales and arpeggios in time with triplets and 16th notes with a metronome. I had to pay very close attention to my intonation and my vibrato. For vibrato, I used different rates and depths, and I even made sure that my vibrato was in time with the piece. if you have trouble with these techniques, I recommend seeking out a great guitar teacher to learn the techniques.

One thing I did was to look up as many arrangements as possible and research what was the original key and tempo of the piece. It took me a long time to figure out the proper fingerings for the passages and how to finger the arpeggios, whether the scale runs should be played 2, 3 or 4 notes per string. I tried many different fingerings and choose the most playable. I had to decide if alternate picking, sweep picking, tapping, string skipping, economy picking was best. I had to use all of them. I had to rework many of the fingerings over the years. It is important to realize, when reading standard notation for the guitar, that the notes should be played an octave higher than written. Guitar music sounds an octave lower than all other treble clef instruments for notes in the same places on the staff, so you must play everything an octave higher than written.

A lot of times music that is written for violin and other instruments exceeds the range of a typical standard tuned guitar. So, I use a Whammy pedal set to an octave higher at times. Personally, I have a true bypass modded one, and I feel as if the original Whammy pedal (WH-1) has the best tone of them all, but it usually colors the tone when plugged in, even if not being used. So, I have it modded to be true bypass. I was able to add an extra octave higher to the guitar by using that. A lot of songs also have notes that are a lot lower than the open low E string tuned to standard tuning so, in that case, a lot of the times I am using a double drop C tuning. I just tune my low E string to C and keep all the other strings tuned as usual. (CADGBE). This prevents me from needing to use a seven-string guitar, but if you are a seven-string guitarist you probably will not need to do this. I also programmed the Whammy pedal to be a momentary switch on my effects switching pedal, so I can just click a button with my foot and everything is an octave higher. Another thing that I did to record all these pieces was to make sure when mixing more than one guitar, that I panned them in different places in the mix. You can even pan them the way a string quartet would be panned. I also tried to use EQ properly to separate them in the mix. These are the main tips I recommend to play classical music on electric guitar. To hear my versions of these songs, go to:

To buy the CD:

To buy the sheet music and tab book go to:


Print and ebook:

Kevin M. Buck is a world renowned virtuoso. His first solo album Initiation is a collection of inspired rock guitar music.

He teaches and performs professionally, and has been praised by Jason Becker, Steve Vai, Uli Jon Roth, Leslie West, Roger Daltrey and many more.

Kevin M. Buck