Pick Up Some Rockabilly Solo Techniques

Learn a fun rockabilly solo that uses some typical stylistic ideas.
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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.

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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!