This month Martin Cooper dons his wet­tie and waxes up his sled to check out the style of the King of Surf guitar, the pick­tas­tic Dick Dale.

Guitar Techniques - - CONTENTS -

Martin Cooper brushes up on his exotic scales to in­tro­duce leg­endary surf rocker, Dick Dale.

Dick Dale is an Amer­i­can gui­tarist known as the King of Surf guitar – and the man who pi­o­neered surf style mu­sic in the 1960s. His fast stac­cato, tremolo-picked guitar lines are of­ten cited as be­ing the pre­cur­sor to heavy metal mu­sic. He is a guitar player who pushed the bound­aries of what tech­nol­ogy could do at the time by start­ing to over­drive his amps into a dis­torted tone. No­tably, he worked closely with Fender in de­sign­ing the first ever 100-watt guitar am­pli­fier. His play­ing is said to have in­flu­enced other rock guitar roy­alty, such as Jimi Hen­drix and Ed­die Van Halen.

Dale was born in Bos­ton, USA, al­though some biographies list his birth­place as be­ing Beirut. He is of Le­banese de­scent on his fa­ther’s side and Pol­ish-Be­laru­sian on his mother’s side of the fam­ily. His early mu­si­cal ven­tures in­cluded learn­ing how to play the tarabaki drum, which then went on to in­flu­ence his rapid-fire guitar pick­ing style.

Dale was a surfer and he wanted to write and play mu­sic that re­flected the sounds he heard in his head while surf­ing. His song Let’s Go Trip­pin’ is re­garded as the first surf rock song, and af­ter the re­lease of his de­but al­bum Surfer’s Choice, he be­came a reg­u­lar on the Ed Sul­li­van Show. Al­though the ‘Bri­tish in­va­sion’ in the mid 60s started to take over from surf rock, Dale con­tin­ued to record and per­form and in 1994 the genre en­joyed a huge resur­gence when Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fic­tion fea­tured Dale’s song Miser­lou in the film and its sound­track. In 2005 The Black Eyed Peas sam­pled the same track in their hit Pump It. In 2009 Dale was in­ducted into the Mu­si­cians’ Hall Of Fame And Mu­seum in Nash­ville. Dick Dale has also said that he never used al­co­hol or drugs, he has stud­ied mar­tial arts for 30 years, and he still puts on an en­er­getic live show well into his 70s.

Our fea­tured track this month fea­tures some fairly easy melodic lines on the fifth string, al­though the part is very ex­posed above the bass and drums. It also car­ries a lot of the rhythm and melody, so it will be more tricky to ex­e­cute con­fi­dently than you may at first imag­ine.

We’re in the guitar-friendly key of A mi­nor (A-B-C-D-E-F-G), but you’ll also en­counter a G# note from the A Har­monic Mi­nor scale (A-B-C-D-E-F-G#) and there­fore an im­plied E ma­jor chord (E-G#-B) that gives the de­sired spaghetti west­ern-type sound. NEXT MONTH Martin ex­am­ines the style of ELO’s main man and Glas­ton­bury star Jeff Lynne


Dick Dale with his, now leg­endary, gold Fender Strat

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