Rockabilly music was first created in the mid-1950s, taking stylistic elements from the blues, country and gospel music. The electric guitar quickly became a large part of the typical rockabilly sound. Eddie Cochran, Carl Perkins, Scotty Moore, Chuck Berry, Brian Setzer and Gene Vincent are among the most famous and accomplished rockabilly guitarists of all time.
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Although rockabilly can be played on any type of guitar, certain types of guitars are better suited for the style. Both rockabilly lead and rhythm guitar is almost always played using an electric guitar. Hollow and semi-hollow body guitars tend to be the instruments of choice for rockabilly guitarists. These instruments are electric guitars with sound holes carved in them similar to acoustic guitars. This gives them a special ringing tone that solid body guitars have trouble reproducing. Acoustic instruments can be used for rhythm, but will usually fall short of the sound you wish to achieve.
Tone and Effects
Rockabilly guitar has a distinctive sound. In general, a low amount of distortion is used in crafting a rockabilly guitar tone. The sound of the clean channel of a tube amplifier driven to the brink of distortion has created many of the most memorable rockabilly guitar riffs ever recorded. In terms of guitar effects, a bit of echo or delay is often used. Reverb can be used in the place of these effects, but the result probably won't be as authentic sounding. Tremolo is also used occasionally in rockabilly songs.
Double stops, two notes being struck simultaneously, are one of the hallmarks of the rockabilly lead guitar style. Listen to the opening riff of Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode" to hear rockabilly style double stops used to perfection. Double stops can also be used to accentuate certain notes in a predominantly single-note run.
Brush up on your guitar chords before playing rockabilly music. Although some rockabilly music uses simple major, minor and power chords, many artists prefer to use jazzier chords. Start with simple 7th and 6th chords but also look at diminished and augmented chords as well as suspended chords. The more chords you have down, the easier it will be for you to learn classic rockabilly songs and the easier it will be for you to craft your own rockabilly songs.
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