I came across a most excellent flash-based website earlier this week, the Guitar Shred Show where you can learn the way of the exploding solo!
It follows “Mr Fastfinger” (who has numerous similarities to Steve Vai) through a gratuitously over the top guitar solo, a training school and a mission to save the dwarves of the island in a shredding show-down with an accordion-playing demon (perhaps an echo of Vai’s appearance as the devil’s own guitarist in the movie Crossroads). It is an interactive site: in the training school, you discover that most of the keys on the keyboard (A-Z and 0-9) will produce various face-melting riffs, covering a whole host of widdly widdly techniques. You must guide Mr Fastfinger as he plays his righteous guitar!
The site actually has an educational side. All the riffs are written out and there is a handy metronome so you can learn to play along. Another part of the education is to realise just how much like a Steve Vai song the “jam” at the end sounds, just by pressing different keys and calling on a relatively limited stock of show-off guitar tricks.
However, whatever kind of lesson you want to take from it, it’s an unmissable site for anyone who knows that high-octane riffing ain’t just greasy kid’s stuff.