If I had a nickel for every time I heard a guitar collector say he wished he had a time machine and a wad of cash so he could go back to the Fifties, Sixties, and Seventies to stockpile a hoard of classic guitars, I’d be able to afford my own collection of vintage axes that would make Billy Gibbons green with envy.
The blues is a style of music that guitar players have explored extensively for more than a century, and will no doubt continue to explore, expand on and creatively reinvent forever. Though standard blues forms may seem simple, the greatest musicians in virtually every genre have been known to dedicate a great portion of their musical study on a further and deeper understanding of the blues in its many different incarnations. In this edition of In Deep, we’ll focus specifically on the eight-bar, as opposed to the more commonly used 12-bar, blues form.
Tremolo is the technique of sustaining (actually rearticulating) a note with fast, controlled alternate picking (not to be confused with amp tremolo, which varies the volume). Tremolo originated as a way to maintain notes on acoustic stringed instruments beyond their natural decay time to emulate the long, sustaining notes of the human voice or a wind instrument. While the electric guitar offers other options for sustaining a note, tremolo picking a simple melody gives it a kinetic quality that can transform it into something energetic and memorable and create a virtual “wall of sound.”