WHEN I LEARNT to play lead I had a cheap acoustic and I’d often lose my only plectrum and have to resort to fingers. I soon developed a method of using thumb and first finger that sounded convincing, but different to the tone that emanated once I’d retrieved my pick from down the side of the sofa. Fingers also allowed me to play things I couldn’t with a bit of plastic.
It gave me another string to my bow within my relatively limited style, and it’s great to call on when looking for a softer type of attack, or a particular dynamic to suit a certain song.
So successful has it been that a number of great players have copied me and are now doing the same thing themselves (joke, by the way). Jeff Beck, Mark Knopfler, Lindsey Buckingham, John Mayer, Robby Krieger, Hubert Sumlin and a host of others use the technique all the time, or simply bring it to bear when the moment feels right.
So Jon Bishop has come up with a feature that focuses on playing lead guitar using flesh only. If you’ve not done this before, do get into it and I guarantee it will add a new dimension to your existing style.
While we were in a ‘picking’ frame of mind it prompted this month’s other big feature - Your Ultimate Country Workout. If you’re a regular reader you’ll know that no style is an island unto itself and that licks from one genre, or techniques generally reserved for that genre, can be succesfully transplanted into others.
With that in mind I don’t know of ANY guitarist that wouldn’t want a bit of Chet-style picking, Albert Lee-style pull-offs or Brad Paisley-style machine gun lead in their arsenal. So, even if you’re a rock, blues or jazz player, PLEASE give this one a go as Steve Laney has done the most thorough piece on the subject - both rhythm and lead - we’ve ever seen. It’s not for the faint-hearted, but if you glean just five ideas it will be worth at least the cost of a year’s subscription.
A quick note about the main song: The Who’s Baba O’Riley is not their most guitar-heavy track, but it’s one of their best so Steve Allsworth has tabbed Pete Townshend’s synth part for guitar, and also Mr Big’s superb version. Give it a go, have fun and I’ll see you next time.