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Lyle Ronglien >> Rock Legends >>


Jeff Beck Lesson Sample

Lyle: Although he hasn't had the huge hit songs or notoriety like his contemporaries have had, Grammy Award winning guitarist Jeff Beck is one of the best rock guitarists of all time. Instead of recording songs aimed for commercial success with a vocalist, he chooses to do what he wants to do, mostly work at his obsession of rebuilding hot-rod cars. But every now and then he releases a new instrumental album that displays his incredible talent.

Lyle: When Eric Clapton left the Yardbirds, Jeff Beck took his place as the group's lead guitarist. Two years later Jeff left the group to form his own band, The Jeff Beck Group featuring Rod Stewart on vocals. A few years later Jeff began recording many of his solo instrumental albums, which feature some of the world's most incredible guitar riffs. Jeff is known as the first rock guitarist to use distortion as well as the first to popularize the talk box, years before Peter Frampton used it on "Do You Feel Like I Do?" Beck has always embraced modern technology in music creation and many of his latest albums are great examples of this, utilizing samplers, sequencers, and other digital recording tools.

Lyle: Many guitarists have sat with their mouths hanging  wide open as they watched and listened to Beck pulling sounds and notes from just his guitar, a Fender Strat and Marshall amp. He generally plays without a pick, using his thumb and fingers instead. Suggested listening: Truth, Blow By Blow and Wired -- still among the best selling guitar albums of all time.

Lyle: In this lesson I suggest you learn how to play these riffs without using a pick. JB mostly used his fingers. If you have a guitar with a whammy bar, get it ready! Also, try setting your tone to the cleanest sound you can get, maybe add a little reverb too for this intro section.

Lyle: For the intro riffs, the background chord progression, in the key of G major, is like this:

chord chart - intro

Lyle: Here's a jam track of these chords:

Looping Sound Clip 1

Lyle: The solo riffs have many "pre-bends" using a whammy bar. Look and listen to this next tab:

pre-bend example

Lyle: In the following tab examples, the "V" means bend the bar down, pick the note, and release the bar. Here's the first riff of the intro solo:

solo 1 - riff 1

Stratman: Is the vibrato achieved with the finger or the bar?

Lyle: The whammy bar is used for the vibrato. Here's riff 2:

solo 1 - riff 2

Lyle: This is a pre-bend up with your finger, but the volume of the guitar is off. After you pick the note, turn on the volume of you guitar as you slowly release the bend. Watch the video clip for a closer look at this.

Lyle: The next riff is not too hard:

solo 1 - riff 3

Lyle: This next riff is my favorite riff of the whole solo, very bluesy:

solo 1 - riff 4

Lyle: All 4 of those riffs put together is half way through the intro solo.

Lyle: Here's the second half of the intro solo:

solo 1 - riff 5

Lyle: How I came up with these riffs was I played against the chords, using arpeggios like in riff 5 and in riff 6:

solo 1 - riff 6

Lyle: Riff 5 is a Gmaj7 arpeggio, riff 6 is an Em7 arpeggio, just following the chords in the chord progression.

solo 1 - riff 7

Lyle: This next tab is all the riffs put together. Be sure to listen to the embedded audio of the tab file:

Lyle: Let's shift gears to the rest of the lesson sample, where the band comes in. It's a jam based off two chords in G:

chord chart - rhythm riff 1

Lyle: Here's the new jam track:

Looping Sound Clip 2

Lyle: The first riff sounds like the old Moog synths if played fast. For a tone setting for this sound, try using a high gain distortion, neck pickup.

solo 2 - riff 1

Lyle: The video clip will help you see and hear it played fast.

Lyle: For this next riff, use the same high gain distortion sound, but select a single coil pickup on your guitar if you have one.

solo 2 - riff 2

Lyle: Notice you're snapping the string with your finger to produce the sharp attack. The next riff goes back to the clean sound. You'll pre-bend up a half step, then pick the two notes and release the bend:

solo 2 - riff 3

Lyle: Beck changes around his volume, tone and pick-up switch all the time to create the seemingly endless tones from his Strat.

Lyle: I learned a riff like this next one from a Jeff Beck song long ago, I don't even remember which one now. It goes like this:

solo 2 - riff 4

Lyle: The next riff is from the "chorus" section of the lesson sample. The chord progression for this part is simply this:

chord chart - rhythm riff 2

Lyle: Here I want to show you how JB might use the whammy bar make chords sound like they're being played with a slide:

chorus riff

Lyle: Try it with this jam track:

Looping Sound Clip 3

Lyle: Now if you feel like jamming to both rhythm riffs, here's how they go together:

chord chart - both rhythm riffs

jam track - both rhythm riffs

Lyle: You can use the riffs you learned for both parts as well as any you come up with using any G minor pentatonic scale, G minor blues, even the G Dorian minor scale.

Lyle: If you don't have any Jeff Beck albums/CDs, do yourself a favor and pick up a couple, he'll amaze you. You'll have to listen carefully, he throws in lots of riffs all over the place, sometimes it doesn't sound like a guitar but it is! He doesn't use effects, just his guitar and amp.

Lyle: If you want to explore more of this style, you can with private customized lessons with me using this same Riff Interactive technology you're using here. Email me at for more info, I'll be more than happy to help you. Thanks, Lyle

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