allman brothers

Charlie Starr Brings the Thunder!

Starr, whom Shifty credits with owning one of the best vintage guitar collections he’s ever seen, explains how he got into guitar at age six thanks to the influence of his dad, who was a bluegrass rhythm player.

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One of the most revered Southern rock bands of all time combined grit and soul with blazing blues guitar. Learn how Duane Allman and Dickey Betts forged an unforgettable sound.

Chops: Intermediate
Theory: Beginner
Lesson Overview:
• Learn how to craft dual-guitar harmonies.
• Expand your slide guitar vocabulary.
• Combine major and minor pentatonic sounds.

Click here to download a printable PDF of this lesson's notation.

When talking about Southern rock, there are really only a couple of names to consider when you look for bands that epitomize this style. The Allman Brothers Band were at the forefront of this musical movement from its inception, and with a career that spanned 40 years, ABB impacted the sound of the South like no other rock group.

Formed by brothers Gregg and Duane Allman, the band would have a definitive impact on music with the albums that were made before Duane’s untimely death in 1971. With a searing lead style and otherworldly chops on slide, Duane would influence generations of players. One of the other key aspects of the band’s guitar style was the wonderful dual-guitar harmonies made possible by the pairing of Duane with Dickey Betts, another excellent player in his own right who would stay with the band up until 2000.

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JD Simo’s current mainstay live guitar is a 1960 Les Paul sunburst called Candy. For a while Simo was playing a ’59 ’burst on loan from Joe Bonamassa.
Photo by Charles Daughtry

To set the vibe for his power trio’s second album, JD Simo headed to the Allman Brothers’ Museum in Macon and got his hands on Duane Allman’s ’57 goldtop.

Only a handful of people can say they’ve hefted and played Duane Allman’s ’57 Les Paul goldtop, but none of them had thought to track a whole album with it, let alone use the Allman Brothers’ famed Big House in Macon, Georgia, as the recording studio. None, that is, until Nashville-based axeslinger JD Simo came along. Let Love Show the Way, his barnstorming power trio’s latest slab of electric hard rock, has a great backstory and is a reverent nod to the past, with a tube-warmed glimpse of a freewheeling future. But the incredible live presence of this band is where we’ll start.

Sparks, splinters, and copious locks of hair fly around the small basement stage at Bowery Electric, just a few doors down from where bands like Television, Talking Heads, Blondie, and the Ramones once shook the walls at the legendary New York punk mecca (and now sadly defunct) CBGB. Fully cranked through his exquisitely vintage 100-watt Marshall half-stack, 29-year-old JD Simo uncorks a smoldering solo over the hypnotic break of “I’d Rather Die in Vain,” the 10-minute epic staple of his band’s explosive live set and one of many dizzying highs on the new album. In the space of two minutes, Simo channels everyone from Hendrix to McLaughlin to Peter Green to Derek Trucks, throwing his whole body into the performance and exhorting bassist Elad Shapiro and drummer Adam Abrashoff to join him in the ritual—which they duly oblige.

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