acous­tic

This month Stu­art Ryan un­veils the acous­tic side of one of rock’s most orig­i­nal and en­dur­ing six-stringers - the mav­er­ick Cana­dian su­per­star, Neil Young.

Guitar Techniques - - Learning Zone -

Stu­art Ryan on the acous­tic style of Canada’s multi-tal­ented singer-song­writer, Neil Young.

Ac­claimed for his work with Buf­falo Spring­field, Crosby Stills Nash & Young, and as a solo artist, Cana­dian mu­si­cian Neil Young is a di­verse player whose out­put has ranged from grungey riff­ing to pas­toral acous­tic gui­tar. A coun­try-folk tinged sound be­came a part of his work with the re­lease of After The Gol­drush (1970). In­ter­est­ingly, around this pe­riod he also started col­lab­o­rat­ing with James Tay­lor and Linda Ron­stadt and this led to his fourth and ar­guably best-loved acous­tic based re­lease, Har­vest, which raised his song­writ­ing and lyri­cal abil­ity to a new level.

Over the en­su­ing years he worked in a va­ri­ety of guises, from col­lab­o­rat­ing again with Stephen Stills to re­leas­ing heav­ier mu­sic with his elec­tric band, Crazy Horse. In 1993 his acous­tic side came to the fore again, via a stun­ning full band per­for­mance as part of

Drop D tun­ing was a huge fea­ture of grunge mu­sic; many thought it unique to the genre when in fact Young and oth­ers had em­ployed it for years.

MTV’s Un­plugged se­ries. If you aren’t fa­mil­iar with Neil Young, this live show is a great showcase of his gui­tar style, from pound­ing, chord driven work on Old Laugh­ing Lady to more del­i­cate, in­tri­cate fin­ger­pick­ing of the leg­endary Nee­dle And The Dam­age Done.

Young had a huge im­pact on Seat­tle’s grunge scene dur­ing the early 1990s: his heav­ier work like Rust was a great in­flu­ence on bands like Pearl Jam, with whom he oc­ca­sion­ally guested. In­ter­est­ingly, Drop D tun­ing was a huge fea­ture of grunge and many thought it unique to the genre, when in re­al­ity Young and many oth­ers had em­ployed it for years. Har­vest Moon, for ex­am­ple, re­ally makes the best use of this tun­ing and you can hear him us­ing the low open sixth string to drive things along in sev­eral of his tracks.

For this les­son we’ll fo­cus on Young’s chordal rhythm play­ing, as heard on the Har­vest al­bum. His lovely, re­laxed tim­ing is an es­sen­tial el­e­ment to master so we are aim­ing for a lazy, swing feel through­out. Also im­por­tant is the dy­namic range on his strum­ming hand, from light to heavy, so make sure you ex­plore the widest pos­si­ble scope when strum­ming through our ex­am­ple. Neil’s play­ing also pro­vides a great les­son in how us­ing open strings can act as a hinge that keeps a chord se­quence to­gether and in this les­son we’ll fo­cus on the open first string as such a co­he­sive de­vice.

Neil Young with his gor­geous Martin D-45

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