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Lyle Ronglien >> Rock Legends >>


Lesson Sample

Lyle: Sometimes referred to as "the Godfather of Heavy Metal", Tony Iommi (b. 1948 in Birmingham, England) is the man responsible for the dark bone crushing riffs that are the backbone to the music of Black Sabbath. His music has inspired other music genres including speed metal, death metal and even grunge. His first band in the early '60s was called The Rockin' Chevrolets. By 1968 he formed a band called Mythology, which later became Polka Tulk, which became Earth, then finally became Black Sabbath in 1969.

Lyle: On Tony's last day of work at a sheet metal factory before he was to start recording the first Black Sabbath album he had an accident, which severed his two middle fingers of his fretting hand. He was very discouraged with his musical future until one day his former boss had Tony listen to a Django Reinhardt album. He was blown away when he was told that Django was playing with only two fingers. He soon was inspired and made his own finger prosthetics that fit over his severed fingertips so he could play guitar again. Then history begins for this living legend.

Lyle: Tony's diverse musical influences include Joe Pass, Alvin Lee, Jimi Hendrix, John Coltrane, Muddy Waters, B.B. King and or course Django. Tony plays a Gibson SG through Laney amps loud. Suggested listening, any of the early Black Sabbath recordings.

Lyle: First, let's learn the rhythm riff in the first part of the lesson sample. In this riff you should notice the use of both power chords and single note riffs together.

rhythm riff 1

Lyle: Here's a jam track for this rhythm riff:

Looping Sound Clip 1

Lyle: You're in the key of F#m for rhythm riff 1. As you play along to the jam track, see if you can blend in exactly to my guitar part, creating an overdub. Tony did this many times on the Sabbath studio recordings. He would record the rhythm guitar part twice to get a fatter tone. That's what I did for the lesson sample. All the rhythm guitars were recorded twice. I also recorded the lead twice, playing the exact same lead against myself. It creates a big tone.

Lyle: Next is rhythm riff 2. It shifts up a whole step (2 frets) to G#. In this riff you'll notice it's a different groove than the first rhythm riff. Tony wrote in a very progressive style. He didn't follow the "rules" of song writing. He would change keys, tempos, and rhythms unlike the pop tunes of the day.

rhythm riff 2

Lyle: Here's a jam track for rhythm riff 2:

Looping Sound Clip 2

Scott: I was wondering how you get that tone? I have a pod and was wondering if you know the settings for it?

Lyle: I don't use a POD, I use a Rocktron Voodu Valve. Try setting it for a Marshall high gain tone with little or no effects.

Scott: Thanks, I'll try that.

Lyle: I double tracked the rhythms creating the slight effect you might be hearing.

Scott: What kind of guitar are you playing it on?

Lyle: Brian Moore Custom i9.5 guitar. The lesson sample at the top of the lesson is a fairly high quality mp3. You can hear my tone best in that sample.

Lyle: Here's a jam track that has both rhythm grooves in it so you can play both parts you just learned:

Looping Sound Clip 3

Lyle: In the jam tracks I left in one guitar track so when you play along it sounds like two guitars.

Lyle: Next I'd like to show you a short solo in the style of Mr. Iommi. When he plays lead guitar, he mostly uses the minor pentatonic scale, sometimes the natural minor too. The solo you're going to learn now is in the key of G# minor, just like the rhythm riff 2. Here's the pattern you'll need to learn for the solo riffs:

Lyle: The highlighted notes are the roots (G#). Here's a typical Iommi riff using that scale:

solo - riff 1

Lyle: Remember when you're playing these solo riffs to the jam track, you play them during rhythm riff 2.

Lyle: The next solo riff is a continuation of the first riff:

solo - riff 2

Lyle: Solo riffs 1 and 2 are mostly made right from the minor pentatonic pattern I gave you earlier. The riff is grouped into 3 note phrases. Here's the next riff:

Lyle: It's just the same riff for both bars.

solo - riff 3

Lyle: Still using only the notes from the minor pentatonic scale.

Scott: Is the second bend on the 6th fret a ghost bend?

Lyle: Scott, bend it up and release it quickly.

Scott: Thanks :-)

Lyle: You're welcome, you should see it happen in the video clip for that riff.

Lyle: Here's the final riff of the solo:

solo - riff 4

Lyle: This riff has elements of both the natural minor scale and the minor blues scale. The 3rd fret of the 3rd string is a note from the natural minor scale. The 5th fret of the 5th string is a note from the minor blues scale.

Lyle: Here's a video of the whole solo, all 4 riffs played back to back:

complete solo

Lyle: Anything with Ozzy singing I like. Black Sabbath is still one of my favorite bands.

Lyle: If you would like to learn some of your favorite Black Sabbath songs, contact me and we'll set up some private lessons. Email: for more info. Thanks - Lyle

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