Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine

“I could have been the biggest guitarplayer in the world, if only I had been able to handle my fists—and my thirst,” wrote Dave Mustaine near the close of his 2010 autobiography, Mustaine: A Heavy Metal Memoir. It’s a clear reference to getting axed by Metallica just before the band went supernova. Mustaine has spent his career trying to avenge his termination and prove his worth—and it appears the rusty-haired headbanger has finally achieved at least some semblance of peace via sheer perseverance. “Now I’ve got everything I ever wanted, and its time for me to go out and play,” he told GP in late 2009, and true to his word, the now-religious Mustaine has been mega-busy spreading his guitar gospel.

Mustaine bared his tortured soul in his book, designed a new signature series for Dean Guitars, created new songs for guitar video games, launched his Guitar Prodigy application that teaches fans how to play Megadeth songs, toured Europe and appeared onstage with his old mates in Metallica for the first time, and conjured up another menacing Megadeth record. Th1rt3en [Roadrunner] marks the return of original bass player David Ellefson and the continuation of Chris Broderick in the guitar slinger seat he’s held since 2008.

Broderick and Mustaine swap rhythm and lead roles regularly on Th1rt3en, but it’s not difficult to discern who’s doing what. Broderick’s playing is impossibly intricate and harmonically involved. His fluid solo flights incorporate sweep-picked arpeggios, exotic scale tones, and blazing two-hand tapping. Mustaine delivers the more primal, less harmonically involved dirty work, such as the fiery intro solo on the single, “Public Enemy No. 1.”

Mustaine talked to GP shortly after learning the song had been nominated for a Grammy, and that his Signature Dean Zero Angel of Deth II guitar received an Editors’ Pick Award in the December cover story roundup of electrics under $500.

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