The Best of Times Guitar Lesson – Dream Theater

Dream Theater guitarist John Petrucci has been known for his long, melodic and extremely virtuosic solos for more than two and a half decades now. One of his finest moments came on Dream Theater's 2009 album Black Clouds & Silver Linings with his outro solo to "The Best of Times".

In this The Best of Times guitar lesson I am gonna to show you how to play this epic and beautifully melodic solo note-for-note.

For those of you unfamiliar with this track and this outro solo, go ahead and find it on YouTube or something and fast forward to about the 10 minute mark. That is when this incredible guitar solo begins and it lasts well over 3 minutes until the song fades out.

This solo has a bit of everything in it. Beautiful melodic lines that work perfectly over the haunting chord progression, blisteringly fast alternate picking and sweep picking sections, and many large bends that can seriously send your calluses running home to mama! 🙂

In order to properly tackle this entire solo, I have decided to break it up into 3 video lessons. That is pretty much what is required to teach something that is so expansive in both time and technique.

I will start each video lesson performing the part of the solo that I will be teaching in that particular video lesson. After that I will then break each phrase down for you note-for-note.

A good part of the solo is dedicated to slow and highly emotional guitar melodies. Don't automatically think that these sections are gonna be easy just because the aren't being played at a 1000 notes per second.

To really make those notes sing you need to make sure that not only are all the bends in tune, but you will also what to add a liberal amount of vibrato to those notes. Try to focus on a smooth and even vibrato and not some erratic thing that doesn't sound very musical.

For the really advanced licks in this solo, you will find that each one of them can make an excellent technique exercise. If there is one thing about John Petrucci's solo playing it is that not only is he very precise, but his licks are usually very pattern oriented and can be easily broken down into a nice technique exercise. He isn't one of those players who just lets it fly with a random sequence of notes that is hard to recreate. Instead, his playing is usually very focused with definitive patterns to follow during the fast sections.

As with anything this advanced, I usually go through the notes in the lesson a little bit quicker than usual. That is because not only do we have a lot of notes to get through, but in addition, if your ability level on the guitar is to the level that you can even consider learning such a monster guitar solo, you probably just need to see me play each phrase slowly instead of getting overly detailed about each note. I will call out each note, but it will go by faster than usual.

Pay close attention during all of these lessons to when I point out a specific pattern that John Petrucci is playing and then sequencing across the fretboard. That pattern goes a long way in helping understand how he is creating those extended fast licks.

So good luck with this one, it truly is an epic solo!


If these free lessons help you, please donate to keep new ones coming daily. Thanks!! 🙂

Donate to GuitarLessons365
Other Amount:

The Best of Times Guitar Lesson - Guitar Solo Pt.1

The Best of Times Guitar Lesson - Guitar Solo Pt.2

The Best of Times Guitar Lesson - Guitar Solo Pt.3


  1. Antonio Dantes on December 9, 2014 at 6:59 pm

    Thank you very much for this one! Beautiful solo and a great lesson! (Have you not yet finished part 3?
    Mr. Petrucci at his best, along with his Breaking All Illusions and Under A Glass Moon!
    Anyway, thanks a lot!

    • Carl Brown on December 9, 2014 at 7:04 pm

      Hey Antonio, yeah I agree this is a great solo. Part 3 should be published a little later this week. 🙂

      Keep checking back!! Thanks!


      • Antonio on December 10, 2014 at 2:48 am

        Is it possible for you to talk about and explain the harmony going on behind the solo itself, I mean the chord progression, and how the solo fits in?

        I’ll check back soon then! Thanks!

        • Carl Brown on December 10, 2014 at 10:44 am

          Hey Antonio, unfortunately I have already shot all the videos so I can’t go back and start analyzing it now.

          Plus, when you are dealing with YouTube, unfortunately most people watching the video want to get in and get out with as little talking as possible.

          However, I would be happy to work on analyzing any solo or song with any member that is Premium Plus through custom video responses. 🙂

          • Antonio on December 11, 2014 at 12:40 am

            Oh yeah, very true !

            As soon as I get back home to France, I will get the Premium Plus membership, because I really like your lessons and your mastery courses look great ! (They do come with the membership right? Or are they only available on DVD?)

            Are you planning on doing some more Dream Theater stuff later on?


          • Carl Brown on December 11, 2014 at 10:54 pm

            Yeah I will definitely do some more Dream Theater if enough people ask for it.

            Oh and yes, all of the courses are in the Premium section. The DVD lessons are all gonna just be DVD versions of stuff that is already available in the Premium section of the site. 🙂

            Thanks! Carl..

  2. chris martin on November 20, 2016 at 4:39 am

    amazing lesson carl.its been 4 years i think i m waiting you do arpeggios from hell by yngwie that amazing if it is possible do it in the future this site its my home really.

  3. Steven Daneker on May 23, 2017 at 4:13 am

    Hi Carl,, amazing!!! But is there a PDF for these? I thought there would be for all songs. It really helps to see it on paper first cause you can’t always see all the proper fingering,, & also one can take their time with it better,,,thank you,, keep up the amazing work!!!!!!?

  4. Ritwik Mishra on October 3, 2018 at 7:57 am

    Hi Carl! Great lesson as always. I’m a big fan of Dream Theater and John Petrucci so I really enjoyed this lesson. Hoping to see more of Dream Theater soon. I’d like to request a lesson for the song “Silent Man” by Dream Theater. Thanks 🙂

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.