Grab your Gretsch and dig into the stylings of a modern rockabilly master.
• Soup up a blues progression with basic chord substitutions.
• Create rhythm parts inspired by such rockabilly greats as Eddie Cochran.
• Heat up your Travis picking with some rockabilly attitude.
In recent columns we’ve been exploring unsung guitar heroes, so let’s switch things up a bit and investigate a modern master—the reigning king of rockabilly swing, Mr. Brian Setzer.
Born in 1959, Setzer was drawn to music at a young age after hearing the Beatles’ “She Loves You” on the jukebox while out with his parents. He would go on to raid his father’s record collection after hearing him sing the Carl Perkins song “Honey Don’t” (which Setzer assumed was a Beatles original). This discovery of rock ’n’ roll and rockabilly classics sealed Setzer’s fate, and soon he was set on emulating Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent.
He formed the rockabilly revival group, The Tomcats, which became a mainstay of the Long Island music scene. While it was clear the group would remain a novelty act in their home country, the suggestion that they could hit it big in the U.K. was enough of a reason for the three young Tomcats to sell all their belongings and fly to London. The Toms had become strays, so a change in name to The Stray Cats seemed only fitting.
The group started out rough, even sleeping in Hyde Park, but after their first gig, every record label in town wanted a piece of the action. The Stray Cats were a hit, and their debut album peaked at No. 6 on the U.K. charts (this self-titled record never saw a U.S. release). Their third record, Built for Speed, resulted in their most commercial success. It reached No. 2 on the U.S. charts and songs like “Rock This Town” and “Stray Cat Strut” are still considered classics.
Setzer would go on to lead a revival of big-band swing music. The Dirty Boogie was another big hit for him and this infectious album netted him two Grammys.
For this lesson, let’s check out two examples of what Setzer might play over a simple blues progression.
Ex. 1 opens up with a repeating palm-muted riff (which is brought to life with a little slapback echo) and some chord stabs outlining a G13. Over the IV chord in the fourth measure, notice the Em7b5 chord: This is a very common substitution because Em7b5/C can function as a C9. (In fact, whenever I play this min7b5 shape I always see it as a rootless dominant 9.)
This is answered by another C9 voicing that we embellish in a typical Setzer fashion with dips on the whammy bar. (It’s worth noting that if you really want to sound like Setzer, then a Bigsby is the only real answer. But we work with what we have, right?) After returning to the original riff, we shift to a basic Travis-picking phrase over the D7 chord before arpeggiating a C9 chord with a little wobble on the arm.
For the ending, we have a I-VI-II-V-I progression with some jazzy extensions, specifically G13-E7#9-A7-D7sus4-G. Why does this work so well? Each chord shares a common melody note—G. We end on a typical Setzer chord too, a great sounding G6/9.
In Ex. 2 we’re upping the difficulty with a Travis picking idea. (For more info on this technique, check out Tom Monda’s superb column on the subject here). The secret is to get the alternating bass note movement committed to memory so you no longer need to think about it and can focus instead on the melodic syncopation.
Take this one super slowly and commit it to muscle memory, because playing this one up to speed will require your thoughts to be in other places ... like what chord is coming up next or even singing. (Don’t get me started on how Setzer pulls that off!) Also consider adding little bluesy bends to the Bb and F notes that are fretted with the fourth finger. It’s not easy, but it sounds great if you can manage it.
Once you’ve got the pattern down for the G7, it should take just a little adjustment to apply the picking scheme to the C9 chord and then again to the D9. It’s really just a case of first nailing the technique. Once you “get it,” you’ll be amazed at how quickly you can apply the pattern to any chord progression you come across.
The ending has the same basic idea as in the last example, but I’ve changed the chords for variety: This time we play G13-E7b13#9-Am9-D9-G. The idea is to create a descending melody (D-C-B-A-G) on top of the chords, which brings a sense of logic to harmony that could be considered a little jazzy.
Lastly, we’ve got a backing track for you to practice this over, so get rocking!
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We’ve compiled this year’s best deals in the 2022 Holiday Gift Guide presented by Guitar Center.
Looking for a compact, “noiseless” way to plug in and play guitar? Check out the brand-new Gibson Digital Amp, available only in the Gibson App.
The new Gibson App simplifies the learning process and brings guitar playing to life for the current and next generation of guitarists in a modern, comprehensive, and intuitive way. The Gibson App is the place to take your guitar playing to the next level. New to the Gibson App is the Gibson Digital Amp, the ultimate starting amplifier for beginners and a flexible amp on-the-go for intermediate players and pros to get their sound anywhere. The Gibson Digital Amp is an accessible amplifier for both acoustic and electric guitars, and is currently available for Apple/iOS users--an Android version will debut next year.
Use the Gibson Digital Amp’s jamming guide to get started and transform your sound with built-in effects and pedals, jam to backing tracks, or use it in lessons and songs. The Gibson Digital Amp only requires your phone, and wired headphones for the best playing experience, no cables are needed. The amp features 3 acoustic mic presets, 4 electric amp presets, and 6 effects pedals.
The Gibson Digital Amp is the ultimate starting amplifier for beginners and a flexible amp on-the-go for intermediates and pros.
The Gibson App uses a unique two-way, interactive platform to teach guitar students how to do everything from playing their first note to shredding loads of songs. The Gibson App features interactive lessons with thousands of lessons and songs. Learn the songs step-by-step with video tutorials from superstar artists and pro guitarists in the “Gibson App Guide.” The Gibson App also includes the new Digital Amp, a built-in tuner, a metronome, Gibson TV, and new songs are added every week. New Gibson App Guides are added regularly and include Tommy “Spaceman” Thayer’s favorite iconic KISS guitar solos, Richie Faulkner’s (Judas Priest) “Guide to Metal,” Jared James Nichols’ “Guide to Blues,” CELISSE’s “Guide to Songwriting,” and more.
The Gibson App uses “audio augmented reality” to provide dynamic feedback to students as they learn and play. As you pluck a note or strum a chord, the Gibson App listens to your guitar and gives you real-time feedback on your playing. It also gives students a more contextual learning experience: Instead of learning chords and scales in a vacuum, you’re able to practice on a scrolling tablature that lets you hear how you sound with the backing of a virtual band. That means you can load up “Hurt” by Johnny Cash, “Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison, “American Girl" by Tom Petty, “Nothing Else Matters” by Metallica, “Where is My Mind" by Pixies, “Country Roads” by John Denver, “I Hate Myself For Loving You" by Joan Jett, “Heaven” by Kane Brown, “Shape Of You” by Ed Sheeran, “Killer Queen” by Queen,“ Sweet Child O’ Mine,” by Guns ‘N Roses, “Run to the Hills” by Iron Maiden, “Roxanne” by The Police, and “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and “The Man Who Sold the World” by Nirvana, “Are You Gonna Go My Way” by Lenny Kravitz, and “Don't Look Back In Anger” by Oasis and hundreds more songs in a wide range of genres, to see how your play matches up with such seminal tracks.
As you’re playing, the Gibson App gives you feedback on timing and tone, ensuring that students are getting active input on how their play is developing. The Gibson App appeals to players of all levels, it’s not just for beginners looking to learn a few chords; the app can assist seasoned guitarists who are working their way through difficult riffs, want to learn their favorite songs, or polish their advanced techniques.
Players can also challenge themselves by speeding up or slowing the tabs. Like having a full-time guitar teacher, the Gibson App keeps track of all your progress and adjusts lesson plans accordingly. The Gibson App released a “backing track mode” which supports both lesson and song playback without headphones, so users can self-select what works best for their current environment. And that’s not all: the Gibson App also packs in a fully-featured digital tuner for guitar first-timers, there’s even a detailed lesson on how to tune your instrument, a multi-function metronome, players can connect to free one-on-one consultations with Gibson’s Virtual Guitar Tech team, and to direct links to the Gibson, Epiphone, and Kramer online stores for easy shopping for guitars, gear, apparel, and accessories.
Learn Guitar With The Gibson App
The Gibson App is more than a pocket-sized guitar teacher, it’s loaded with an archive of exclusive content and original programming from its premium and accessible award-winning online network, Gibson TV, featuring music icons telling their best guitar stories, with more episodes and installments added regularly. Users can watch Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi share insights and tales from his decades-long career on the series “Icons,” dive into Joe Bonamassa’s assortment of legendary Les Paul guitars on “The Collection,” or see how Gibson’s iconic instruments are made in their Nashville factory from body to binding on “The Process.” There’s even a series called “The Scene” that focuses on backstage stories from hallowed music venues from coast to coast like The Troubadour and Grand Ole Opry.
The Gibson App free version features a few lessons a day; the premium version of the Gibson App offers full access and a 14-day free trial, then costs $19.99/£16.49 monthly or $119.99/£98.99 yearly.
For more information, please visit gibson.com.
This pickup captures the clear, bell-like single-coil chime of a classic P-90 when played clean and retains the tight mids and articulate low-end vintage growl and smooth sustain saturation when pushed into overdrive.
Belltone Guitars, as part of their Custom-Select System curated offering of pickups, has partnered McNelly pickups to create a one-of-a-kind retro-vibe P-90 pickup in the standard Filtertron size format. This pickup captures the clear, bell-like single-coil chime of a classic P-90 when played clean and retains the tight mids and articulate low-end vintage growl, and smooth sustain saturation when pushed into overdrive.
The McNelly P-90 Foil-Coil comes housed in a ‘raw’ nickel outer casing with a dull nickel foil face with metal mount screw gromets to complete the ‘new-vintage’ aesthetic, making it a perfect choice for your signature Belltone custom build. Available exclusively through Belltone Guitars.
Check out the Custom-Select System belltoneguitars.com to preview the McNelly P-90 Foil-Trons and all our standard and selectable components available to create your own signature Belltone. Then visit the Dream Lab on our website and select either model B-Classic ONE with its top binding or B-Classic TWO with its arm and body contours select your body color from our wide range of offerings, select your neck profile of either standard ‘C’ or thicker ’59 Round Back and either Maple or Rosewood fingerboard followed by your tuners, pickguard, and strings. Finally, review our curated custom-designed, and unique pickup selection to locate the McNelly P-90 Foil-Trons to complete your signature build.
Builds start at just over $2,300.00 with a custom case and shipping included.
For more information, please visit belltoneguitars.com.
McNelly P 90 Foil Tron video Sep27
DiMarzio, Inc. announces the Relentless P (DP299), the Relentless J Bridge (DP301), Relentless J Neck (DP300), and the Relentless J Pair (DP302) for 4 string basses.
DiMarzio, Inc. announces the release of the Relentless P (DP299), the Relentless J Bridge (DP301), Relentless J Neck (DP300), and the Relentless J Pair (DP302) for 4 string basses. The new Relentless P and Relentless J series pickups feature the Relentless cover designed in collaboration with Billy Sheehan.
As with the Relentless pickups, we removed all the hard edges from the standard P Bass and standard J Basspickups, and added an arch to the top of the pickups to bring the sensing coils and pole pieces closer to the strings. These improvements increase the dynamic range and make active circuitry unnecessary.
The Relentless P and Relentless J pickups incorporate Neodymium magnets and produce 70 percent more output than traditional passive pickups, and they’re dead quiet due to the incorporation of metal covers and foil-shielded cables. To dial in (or fine-tune) the individual string output, the Relentless P and Relentless J include eight adjustable pole pieces. These pickups also have a broad magnetic field so you can even bend notes without volume dropout.
DiMarzio’s extra shielding makes the Relentless P and Relentless J better for both recording and stage performances. We’ve mounted them onto robust .09375” thick circuit board base plates to eliminate the annoying protruding mounting screws — ultimately creating a more comfortable and consistent foundation to rest your fingers on.
The new Relentless P steps beyond the traditional P-Bass sound and can only be described as massive. It has more of everything: more volume, beefier lows, a growling midrange, and crispy highs with better individual string definition.
The Relentless J incorporates a new invention, (patent pending) parallelogram-shaped coils, offering an expanded mid-range punch, snappy highs, precise lows, and a new dimension to the sound of the Relentless series pickups.
Relentless P and Relentless J pickups will breathe new life into any bass, increase playability, and work well for any style of music from Motown to metal.
DiMarzio’s Relentless P, Relentless J Bridge, Relentless J Neck, and Relentless J pair are made in the U.S.A. and may now be ordered for immediate delivery.
Suggested List Price for the Relentless P is $169.00 (MAP $119.99).
Suggested List Price for the Relentless J Bridge and Relentless J neck is $155.00 (MAP $109.99).
Suggested List Price for the Relentless J Pair is $296.00 (MAP 209.99).
For more information, please visit our website at dimarzio.com.