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Jason Becker, (born July 22, 1969) is an American neo-classical metal guitarist and composer. At the age of 16, he became part of the Mike Varney-produced duo Cacophony with his friend Marty Friedman. They released Speed Metal Symphony in 1987 and Go Off! in 1988. Cacophony broke up in 1989 and Becker began doing solo work, having released his first album Perpetual Burn in 1988. He later joined David Lee Roth's band and recorded one album with him. However, Becker's success was hampered by his then-diagnosed amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's Disease) and was given three to five years to live. In 1996, Becker eventually lost the ability to speak and now communicates with his eyes via a system developed by his father. Despite his disability, he continues composing by using a computer.


Jason is from the city Richmond, California.


Jason Becker studied the works of violinist Niccolò Paganini and was a playing partner with Marty Friedman. He later arranged Paganini's 5th Caprice, performing it during an instructional guitar video. Becker's compositions often include high speed scalar and arpeggio passages, both of which are trademarks of his 'shred' style of guitar playing. He demonstrated the arpeggio sequence during a clinic at the Atlanta Institute of Music. A video of this performance first appeared on his Hot Licks guitar instructional video..

Becker started out playing alongside Marty Friedman in the Mike Varney produced-duo, Cacophony. Becker and Friedman toured together with Cacophony in Japanmarker and across the United States. In 1989 Becker left to pursue a solo career, having released his first solo album titled 'Perpetual Burn' in 1988, and has since released 'Perspective' and 'Collection' , as well as two albums of demos, entitled 'The Raspberry Jams' and 'The Blackberry Jams'.

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

At the age of 20, he joined David Lee Roth's band, replacing Steve Vai, who went on to join Whitesnake. While recording the A Little Ain't Enough album in 1989, and preparing for the subsequent tour, Becker began to feel what he called a "lazy limp" on his left leg. He was soon diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's Disease) and given three to five years to live. He could barely finish the recording, using low-gauge (thin) guitar strings and other techniques, which would make it easier to play with his weakening hands. Although he managed to finish the album, which was released in 1991, he did not join the supporting tour due to his inability to perform on stage; former Lizzy Borden guitarist Joe Holmes took Becker's place on tour.

Due to his illness, he eventually lost the ability to speak and now communicates with his eyes via a system developed by his father. Although his ALS gradually robbed him of his ability to play guitar, to walk, and eventually even to speak, he still remains mentally sharp and, with the aid of a computer, continues composing. In the back of the Perspective CD case, Becker states "I have Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. It has crippled my body and speech, but not my mind." His medical condition has remained stable since 1997. In 2003, Jason posted on his website that he was feeling better and had gained some weight, while the folder for his 2008 album Collection also mentions an upcoming book.

Perspective and the Berry Jams

In 1996 Becker released an album entitled Perspective, an instrumental album composed by him (with the exception of Bob Dylan's song "Meet Me in the Morning"). The writing of the music had been started before ALS completely crippled his abilities. By using guitar and later, when he was unable to use both hands, a keyboard, he continued to compose while his disease worsened. However, when Becker could no longer physically play even a keyboard, his friend and music producer Mike Bemesderfer helped him with a music-composing computer program which could read the movements of his head and eyes enabling Becker to continue to compose after he lost control of his entire body.

Several years later Becker released Raspberry Jams (1999) and Blackberry Jams (2003), the first contained various unreleased demo-tracks and the latter contained demo-tracks and alternate versions of songs that were later reworked and published into other albums.

Two tribute albums to Jason Becker have been issued. Respectively entitled Warmth in the Wilderness I and Warmth in the Wilderness II, they feature guitarists such as Steve Vai, Paul Gilbert, Marty Friedman, Joe Becker, Rusty Cooley, and Mattias Eklundh. The album profits were sent to Becker to help him with his medical finances.


On November 4, 2008, Shrapnel Records released a new Jason Becker album entitled Collection. The album includes three new songs in addition to some older recordings (some never before released) and features Marty Friedman, Greg Howe, Joe Satriani, Michael Lee Firkins, Steve Vai, and Steve Hunter.

Track Listing:
  1. Rain
  2. River of Longing
  3. Images
  4. Opus Pocus
  5. Higher
  6. It's Showtime!
  7. Altitudes
  8. End of The Beginning
  9. River of Longing (Reprise)
  10. Meet Me in The Morning
  11. Air
  12. Electric Prayer for Peace
  13. Mandy's Throbbing Little Heart

Enhanced CD Features:
  1. End of The Beginning Demos (5 Tracks)
  2. Go Off! Intro
  3. Noodling For Rob and Tony


In the early days of Cacophony, Jason used Hurricane Guitars. The first Cacophony album was recorded with a white Hurricane EX Series model [apparently a Limited Edition] with a DiMarzio Steve Morse model humbucker pickup in the bridge position and a maple neck with a rosewood fretboard with 22 frets. For Perpetual Burn he used another Hurricane EX Series model with unknown model DiMarzio pickups, maple neck with maple fretboard and 24 frets. For the 2nd Cacophony album, Jason switched over to Carvinmarker gear, utilizing 2 DC200 models, one in a trans blue finish and maple body, one in a burgundy finish. Both have double cutaway bodies, Kahler locking tremolo systems, 6 in line headstocks and 2 active Carvin humbucker pickups. He used these up until he was diagnosed with ALS in 1989. During the period of 1989-1991, Jason used various guitars, most notably a Peavey custom model with the numbered fretboard markers. There are a few of these around. Also used were an Ibanez unknown model [probably an RG], a custom from Performance Guitars, a couple of unknown Strat style guitars and a black Hurricane EX Series with 3 pickups. As of very recently, Jason has allowed Paradise Guitars USA to release a Jason Becker signature guitar. It is similar in appearance to the numbered Peavey but with a different headstock shape. In his earliest days of playing, Jason used an unknown model acoustic and a black stratocaster type guitar [possibly a MIJ Fender]. Amp wise, Jason used various pieces. In his pre Cacophony days, he used a small Peavey practice amp [possibly a backstage or an audition with the older style Peavey stripes]. For the first Cacophony album, Jason used an ADAMP1 preamp. Perpetual Burn was a 70s Marshall half stack and a BOSS Super Overdrive and Cacophony second album was a Carvinmarker X100B stack. He also used the SX300H head at some point during that era. After Cacophony Jason used various amps, including a "Fender M80", an unknown Marshall amp, an ADA Preamp and possibly the aforementioned Peavey combo.

Paradise Guitar

In 2008 Paradise Guitars worked with Jason to design a Jason Becker signature guitar. The design is based on the Peavey with colored number fret inlays. Features include a genuine alder body, maple neck with steel 2-way truss rod, maple 16" radius fingerboard, 24 jumbo thin frets with colored number fret marker inlays, black Floyd Rose Pro Style floating Tremolo with Floyd Rose Tremolo stop, Sperzel red satin tuners, 14 degree tilt-back headstock with black Paradise logo and matching tremolo and electronics plates. The pickups are DiMarzio pickups; a P.A.F. Pro-Custom in the neck colored yellow and red, a DP116 HS-2 in the neck colored green, and a Tone Zone-Custom in the bridge colored pink and blue. These colored pickups compliment the colored inlays and seem to give the guitar a rainbow effect. There is also a red 5-way switch and purple 1-11 volume knob.


Cacophony Marty Friedman Solo David Lee Roth Other works Instructional


  1. [1] Jason Becker playing Serrana arpeggio section (from
  2. [2] Paradise Guitars USA

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