Sick Riffs: Learn to play the fuzz-laden main hook of Fast Romantics' Julia

Sick Riffs #145: Toronto indie rockers Fast Romantics are characterized by massive-sounding arrangements, gorgeous layered vocal harmonies and silky clean electric guitars, all of which are present in abundance on their most popular song, Julia.

The track – which appears on the band's 2017 full-length American Love – is chock full of arpeggios, chordal stabs and gain-laden lead lines, and so represents a brilliant opportunity for a guitar workout.

In our 145th episode of Sick Riffs, guitarist Kevin Black joins Guitar World to teach you how to play the track's main hook. It's relatively simple and in standard tuning; all you need's a quality fuzz pedal.

Gear-wise, Black plays a 1960 Gibson ES-330 through a hand-made clone of Lovetone's classic fuzz unit – the Big Cheese – and then directly into a Shelford channel preamp.

“When we were quarantined back in March [2020] after returning from California, it actually was a catalyst for us to all get to work on finishing our record,” Black says. “From out separate apartments, we collaborated over email and Zoom calls.

“When we were finished, we decided to put the record out despite not being able to tour it. Something about the coronavirus and isolation has made us more ambitious, more aggressive, and more focused than we ever have been.

“But overall, as human beings in the music business, Covid is scary and ruining the careers of so many of our friends, killing off legendary venues, and worse. It's troubling, but we've busied ourselves by focusing on making and releasing music at a faster clip than ever before.”

Support Fast Romantics

Sick Riffs is a Guitar World video series designed to help guitarists affected by the coronavirus. Self-isolating players around the world have each filmed a lesson where they teach you one of their own guitar riffs, up close and personal. If you dig the lesson, we encourage you to buy music and merch from the artist or stream their music.

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Sam Roche

Sam was Staff Writer at from 2019 to 2023, and also created content for Total Guitar, Guitarist and Guitar Player. He has well over 15 years of guitar playing under his belt, as well as a degree in Music Technology (Mixing and Mastering). He's a metalhead through and through, but has a thorough appreciation for all genres of music. In his spare time, Sam creates point-of-view guitar lesson videos on YouTube under the name Sightline Guitar.