dr mollys guitar lab

One of rock guitar’s pioneers could tear through double-stops, chromatic riffs, and fiery triplets with grace and attitude.



Chops: Intermediate
Theory: Intermediate
Lesson Overview:
• Discover the roots of rock ’n’ roll guitar.
• Learn how to play through changes.
• Create raucous double-stop licks. Click here to download a printable PDF of this lesson's notation.

Sister Rosetta Tharpe: It’s hard to overstate the impact of this supremely badass musician. Born in Arkansas in 1915 to cotton-picking parents, this pioneering guitarist changed the trajectory of American music. She deeply influenced those who we understand to be the founders of rock ’n’ roll: Little Richard, Elvis, Chuck Berry, and so on. Rosetta pushed boundaries and rocked the boat, which is obvious from both the way she lived her life and how she played guitar.

She is known as “The Original Soul Sister” and “The Godmother of Rock ’n’ Roll” for good reason. Her playing. Her persona. Her boldness. Everything about this woman oozes attitude. She was playing rock licks more than a decade before the first rock record was released. Rosetta was fascinating audiences with her “windmill” guitar stunt twenty years before Pete Townshend is thought to have developed this move. She was one of the first artists to merge spiritual and secular music. Rosetta shocked audiences by performing with an integrated band in a segregated nation. She played through chord changes, which demonstrated a jazz influence, and mixed this with blues, gospel, and rock sounds to create her own unique style.

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