The Cowcaster is guaranteed to turn heads. That’s because it is one. The one-of-a-kind guitar, designed and built by artist Brent Gandy of Amarillo, Texas, brims with custom features—from Von Dutch–style pin striping on the back of the neck to a hand-carved bull’s head headstock—all of which are connected to an authentic bull skull.
In the first two installments of Chop Shop, we looked at some arpeggio-based runs that were spiced up with octaves, finger taps, pinch harmonics and behind-the-nut bends. This time, as promised, I’m going to talk about the ways in which I’ve employed ideas I’ve learned from guitarists in different genres to my own playing.
On beat three of bar 2, I flip my fret hand over the neck and perform the arpeggios on top of the fretboard. Here, I use my thumb [indicated by the t in the finger prompts below the tab] to fret the low E [sixth string, 12th fret] so I can make the fret-hand transition over the neck without skipping a beat.
My students often ask me how they can break away from typical root-fifth power-chord rhythm figures. My solution is to devise a variety of different two-note chord shapes—built from pairs of notes, like root-fifth power chords—that sound great when applied to metal, even though these chord shapes can be used in virtually every style of guitar-based music.
Inside the cavernous main recording room at Studio 606—the nerve center of Foo Fighters HQ — a guitar tech pores over a pedal board propped up on a road case. The Foo Fighters are about to embark on a world tour to promote their new album, Wasting Light, and the road crew is busily primping the guitar rigs.
Pete Townshend is a killer tunesmith who has penned such rock classics as “My Generation,” “Baba O’Riley” and “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” But the Who guitarist and band leader is also among the most skilled and influential rock rhythm players in history.
Last month we examined the role of the picking hand, particularly the use of bare fingers, in creating dynamics and adding dimension to your phrasing. Early in the electric blues era, this bare-handed approach was especially popular among “down-home” (rural southern) players, who also developed a variation on bare-fingered technique called chicken pickin’. The musical potential of imitating hens clucking in a barnyard may be somewhat limited, but the technique also opens the door to a variety of funky, percussive phrases.
Over the course of the next few months, I’d like to share my approach to songwriting within the context of my band’s self-titled debut album, Periphery. Specifically, we’ll look at the ways in which I combine unusual chordal patterns and single-note riffs in the quest to create new sounds and unearth fresh musical concepts and ideas.