I HAVE BEEN GETTING QUITE A few requests for rockabilly lately. I decided to put together a fun rockabilly solo using some typical stylistic ideas. This solo is played over a 12-bar blues shuffle progression in the key of E. Pay close attention to the fretting-hand fingerings. Although I use a hybrid picking style, the solo may be played using only a pick. Make sure you keep the solo swinging. Don’t let yourself drift into straight eighth-notes.
The first two measures begin with a slide on the third string, which is played against the open E and B strings. Allow the open strings to ring against the slide and you’ll hear a classic rockabilly sound. Measures 3 and 4 are played by sliding from a half-step below into an E triad on the top three strings. For measures 7, 8, and 9 you’ll need to jump up to the twelfth position to play the double-stops. Jump back down to the open position to play measures 10, 11, and 12. Repeat the solo with the second ending.
For a totally authentic tone, add about 125 to 135 ms of delay. Set the delay’s feedback control so you hear only one repeat. Set the mix at about 40%. I like to use the bridge pickup for twang, and reverb always sounds great in this style.
For more ideas, listen to rockabilly greats Gene Vincent featuring Cliff Gallup, Carl Perkins, Scotty Moore, and Brian Setzer. Jeff Beck also recorded a rockabilly CD called Crazy Legs, which is a classic. Have fun!