What to Remember When Performing The Cult's "She Sells Sanctuary"

As legend has it, guitarist Billy Duffy essentially created the mystical guitar sound for the intro to this classic hit song “by accident,” by having every effect on his pedalboard left on following a bit of wild studio experimentation.

Most noticeable, and of importance to the overall sound, is the use of two separate delay pedals, set for short and medium delay times of approximately 400 and 800 milliseconds, respectively. If you have access to only a single delay pedal, the 800ms setting will best allow you to approximate the sound heard in the original recording. Also present on the clean guitar heard during the song’s intro is a flanger effect, as well as the built-in chorus from Duffy’s Roland JC-120 stereo guitar amp.

Later in the song, however, the guitarist turns off the flanger effect and kicks on an overdrive pedal to create a heavier guitar tone for the verse and chorus sections.

The song’s main riffs are pretty straightforward, as the majority of the melody notes are played up and down the G string in combination with the open D string, which Duffy effectively employs as a drone. [See this month’s In Deep column for more on drones.] The only tricky part might be performing some of the big note leaps, such as when you jump from the F# on the 11th fret in bar 13 down to the D note on the seventh fret on beat two, all within the space of half a beat. Learning to nail such large interval leaps with consistent accuracy means memorizing the riff and playing it over and over until your hand practically takes you there by itself, via muscle and “touch” memory.

For Jeff Perrin's tab of this song, pick up the June 2018 issue of Guitar World.

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