frank zappa

If you like Led Zeppelin’s acoustic numbers, chances are you’ll appreciate Scottish acoustic guitarist Bert Jansch, who accused Jimmy Page of plagiarizing his arrangements.

Photo by Chris Barber

When diving deep with your influences, trace their sound back to the source, and remember that you don’t need great instruments to make great music.

It’s pretty common for we musicians to glom onto a handful of musical heroes in forming our own artistic personalities. We play their recordings day and night, try to develop creative YouTube queries that will lead us to more archival and bootlegged performances, and we preach ad nauseam to our friends, significant others, and bandmates about why this guy, gal, or band is simply the best.

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While Lindley had absolute command over a wide variety of instruments, steel is where he made his best-known contributions to many hit recordings.

Photo by Ken Settle

The great multi-instrumentalist, world music pioneer, and larger-than-life personality is warmly remembered by his friend, veteran music journalist and musician Dan Forte.

People often ask me, “Who was the best musician you ever met?” or, “Who was your favorite interviewee?” I always say David Lindley and David Lindley. Across 47 years and some 1,000-plus interviews, with such fascinating subjects as Frank Zappa and George Harrison and master musicians the caliber of Stéphane Grappelli and James Jamerson, Lindley takes the cake.

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It’s not easy. But it’s worth the work.



  • Demonstrate a variety of Frank Zappa-esque guitar licks.
  • Examine Zappa’s chord progressions and use of modes.
  • Discuss Zappa’s guitar tone and rhythm sections.
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While there may be countless books, magazine articles, websites, and videos concerning Frank Zappa and his music, I have found that there are few that demonstrate how to solo like Frank. Even the amazing, though at times inscrutable, The Frank Zappa Guitar Book (transcribed by Steve Vai) features only transcriptions of Zappa solos, not a specific “how to” section. With more than 100 releases it can be almost impossible to know where to begin. Paradoxically, I do not suggest starting with the Shut Up ’n Play Yer Guitar series. Those guitar solos are out of context (and for diehard fans). So, where do you begin?
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