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Lyle Ronglien >> Rock Legends >>


Lyle: George Harrison (1943 - 2001) was the lead guitarist for the world's most famous group, the Beatles. A.K.A. the quiet Beatle, he was the one who introduced Indian Mysticism, the sitar, and the Maharishi to the rest of the Beatles. George's early influences were guitarists Chet Atkins, Carl Perkins and Duane Eddy. In his early professional years he played Gretsch guitars like the models Duo Jet, Country Classic, Tennessee Rose. He also favored the Rickenbacker 12 string electric guitar. The amps he used in the early days were made by Vox then soon he switched to using mostly Fender amps. George was also a part of the super group, The Traveling Wilburys, which featured Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne, Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison and himself.

Lyle: Besides playing some of the world's most recognizable rock riffs and introducing the sitar to modern pop music, George loved to play slide guitar. His slide guitar style was very melodic instead of a traditional blues based style. Suggested listening: Something, Here Comes The Sun, While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Taxman, My Sweet Lord.

Lyle: Take a listen to the Lesson Sample that I wrote and recorded for this lesson. The first half features an Indian influenced sitar solo; the 2nd half of the sample features a slide guitar solo in the style of George. You will be learning how to play all the parts of this Sample during this lesson.

Lesson Sample

tom: George was a real classy guy.

Lyle: He sure was. To create a sitar like sound, it helps to use an exotic scale like the harmonic minor:

Lyle: The harmonic minor scale is like a natural minor (1 - 2 - b3 - 4 - 5 - b6 - b7) scale but with a b3 and b6 only (1 - 2 - b3 - 4 - 5 - b6 - 7). Try playing the scale over this jam track:

Looping Sound Clip 1

Lyle: Another way to create a sitar like sound on your guitar is with the use of a heavy vibrato.

Lyle: Check out this riff from the intro of the Lesson Sample, you'll hear a quick and heavy vibrato:

tom: That Harmonic minor does sound very Indian.

Lyle: Here's a video of me playing this riff. I'm using a midi guitar hooked to a synth with a setting that sounds just like a sitar. Notice the quick and heavy vibrato:

sitar solo

guitarman: Yeah, that sounds good with the jam track!

Lyle: Play around with the riff and the scale. Also try droning the open A (5th) string as you mess around.

Lyle: The next part of this lesson points to the 2nd half of the lesson sample, where the slide guitar is. Here's the jam track you'll be using for this part:

Looping Sound Clip 2

Lyle: It's made up of 4 chords, 1 for each measure. Here's pictures of them, followed by the TAB with fingerings:

Lyle: The jam track, or background music is layered with several instruments. Each one is unique to the overall sound. George was a big fan of the 12 string electric guitar, so I made a rhythm 12 string part that goes like this:

Lyle: Notice each chord is strummed on the first beat (down beat) of each measure, then arpeggiated. The piano has an interesting part you can play on the guitar. The chords are the same but you'll play them way up the neck in a different voicing like this:

piano part

Lyle: Again I cheated, I used my midi guitar hooked into a synth to get the piano sound, but you can still learn the part on guitar for good practice.

Lyle: Can you see and hear the difference between the 12 string guitar part and the piano part? They can work together in one groove without overpowering each other. An organ part is also used. To emulate an organ on your guitar, try a clean sound, neck pickup, maybe a little chorus effect added.

tom: So by just adding a Ab to the A chord it becomes a Maj7 ?

Lyle: Yes Tom. Ab is the 7th degree in the A major scale.

tom: And so it's called a Maj 7?

Lyle: Yes. Basic chords (called triads) are made from the 1 - 3 - 5 tones of the scale. Add the 7th and you get the major 7 chord (1 - 3 - 5 - 7).

Lyle: Next is another sitar part, this time without the heavy and fast vibrato, just playing the chords and arpeggiating them:

Lyle: There are two more parts that make up the jam track, then we'll get to the solo slide guitar. First is a slide guitar playing a repeated melody. This should remind you of George's style a bit:

slide guitar part 1

Lyle: Next I'd like to show you the harmony guitar part for the slide riff you just learned:

slide guitar part 2

 Lyle: Next you'll learn the slide guitar solo from the Lesson Sample. George played a melodic style of slide guitar instead of the bluesy sounding licks. This solo is made from a repeating melody that climbs the neck. Here's the main melody:

solo - riff 1

Lyle: Next the solo repeats the melody just an octave higher:

solo - riff 2

Lyle: Part 3 of the solo I went away from the theme/melody and played something close to a blues riff but again, more melodic:

solo - riff 3

Lyle: The 4th and final riff of the solo brings you back to the main melody, this time as high up the neck you can reach:

solo - riff 4

Lyle: George was very good at many styles of music. That's why he was the lead guitarist in the world's most famous band. As a legend, he's right up there with Hendrix.

Lyle: That's all for this lesson. See you at the next lesson! If you would like to study more of this or any other style, email me at for more info. - Lyle

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