When jamming, guitarists are always challenged by the task of creating interesting, evolving rhythm parts behind a soloist. In my experiences, I have found the study of modal chord patterns and structures to be tremendously useful in this regard and endlessly interesting. I recently devoted a few columns to the study of building chord shapes, or “grips,” and patterns from modal structures.
Last month, we examined the high-energy style of Cliff Gallup, whose innovative solos with rockabilly icons Gene Vincent & the Blue Caps set a new standard for sound, technique and imagination. This month, we’ll look at how Gallup explored the opposite end of the musical universe—romantic ballads—with an equally successful balance of skill and attitude.
Sure, there are scores of stellar live versions of Stevie Ray Vaughan's version of "Texas Flood" online, but there's simply something magical about this raw performance from July 17, 1982, at the Montreux Jazz and International Music Festival. The extended, dynamics-filled rollercoaster ride finds SRV reaching into his bag of King-meets-Hendrix Licks—not mention behind his back, where his Strat rested for the final third of the song.
Two of the most essential techniques for all aspiring guitarists to master are string bending and vibrato. The electric guitar affords us the opportunity to express musical statements that can evoke and rival the sound and qualities of the human voice, with string-bending and vibrato techniques as the primary elements necessary to achieve vocal-like sounds and phrasing.
The idea of Stevie Ray Vaughan covering a funky song by the great R&B band the Isley Brothers might seem bizarre until you consider that rhythm and blues was a big part of the Double Trouble playbook. Besides, his choice of “Testify” makes perfect sense when you realize that the guitarist on the Isley’s original 1964 version was none other than his hero, Jimi Hendrix.
In the constant quest for great tone, many guitarists eventually decide that the effects on their pedal boards simply aren’t enough. The problem is that most of us have already filled much of our board’s available real estate, and there usually isn’t a whole lot of room left for another full-size pedal.
We’ve seen many weird guitars made out of strange materials (a bull’s skull, a girl mannequin and a toilet seat, to name a few), but a film reel is one of the most unusual items we’ve ever encountered used for a guitar body. What’s even more unusual is that this highly unorthodox guitar, called the Filmocaster, was conceived and built by Nicholas Frirsz, who has specialized in building violins for four decades.