Although Joe Perry is famous for being a gunslinging lead guitarist, it’s his sense
of rhythm that truly sets him apart. In this lesson we’ll examine some of his killer
chord work. Aerosmith fans know, though, that the band’s rhythm sound is the
product of both Perry and co-conspirator Brad Whitford and their interlocking
parts. To really dissect Aerosmith’s twin-guitar assault is beyond the scope of this
lesson—and most of us just play one guitar at a time anyway. So some of these riffs
represent an amalgamation of parts that were originally played by the two guitarists
together, and some are standard tuning approximations of lines that Perry
plays in altered tunings—but all of them are funky and bitchin’, so let’s get the
Ex. 1 is similar to Perry’s awesome line in “Combination” off Rocks. He does a
slinky slide between the 3rd and 4th frets, but I find it easier to hammer both the
G and G#, hit the open A with the pick, and tag the open D with my middle finger.
Obviously, do whatever makes it groove the hardest. Then play the same thing
starting on A, which is also the verse riff.
Ex. 2 recalls the song’s pre-chorus riff, with power chords in place of Perry’s
octaves. This moves around a lot, so make sure you think one step ahead at all
times. Get this one up to speed and, like the song says, you’ll be walkin’ on Gucci
wearin’ Yves Saint Laurent!
Ex. 3 is an approximation of the two chorus guitars. Keep the single notes greasy
and hit the chords hard. You want a ’70s-era classic rock workout? Here ya go.
The open tuning also enables Perry to play the
riff in Ex. 5 with one-finger power chords. We’ll just fret ’em, but make sure you
leave out the major 3rd. Also, resist the temptation to play E/G# on the and of beat
four in lieu of the G# that’s written. Some classic Aerosmith progressions (most
notably this one and “Sick As a Dog”) rely on the parallel motion of straight power
chords to work their mojo. Think of Ex. 5 as the second ending to Ex. 4. The second
time through Ex. 4, instead of playing the Badd4, go right to the A.
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