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25 Solos
February 14th
2013
written by Jeff Koke | 1 Comment

I love this solo. It’s very, very fun to play and I was almost reticent to record it because I enjoyed playing it so much. I often practiced this twice a day just so I could play it some more. I know that I can never capture David Gilmour’s fluid style and eccentric timing, but I put my own spin on it, and couldn’t be prouder. Hope you enjoy.

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February 5th
2013
written by Jeff Koke | 1 Comment

The whole song is here. Solo starts at 3:30.

dark-side-of-the-moonThere’s a reason that Dark Side of the Moon was one of the highest selling albums ever released. It’s just so well crafted, each song flowing seamlessly into to the next in what would soon become a Pink Floyd trademark. It’s filled throughout with sound effects, long intros, instrumental songs and classic radio hits like Time, Money and Us & Them.

My Dad used to play this album for me when I was 9 or 10. It wasn’t just one song here or there. He would put on the album and we would sit in the living room and listen to the whole thing. I remember liking it, but not loving it. It was kind of creepy and I found the strange voices, heartbeats and screams distracting. The ringing clocks at the beginning of Time were always surprising and jarring, but I do remember loving the long slow-building intro with the epic rototom drum pieces that perfectly built up and flowed into the beginning of the song.

I don’t have any specific memory of loving the guitar solo as a child, but later when I became a David Gilmour fan, I would marvel at the beauty of his solos, and Time is no exception. It’s brilliantly put together, with bends all over the place, including half-steps, whole bends, double bends, reverse bends, tremolo and even a tricky 1 1/2 step bend at the very top of the neck. It’s gorgeous and challenging, and I think it will be fun to learn as well.

I’ve borrowed a friend’s Strat again so I can try to capture the classic Gilmour sound. Can’t wait to dive in.

Resources:

Guitar Lesson: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NIVRil5W8DQ

Tabs (GuitarPro): http://tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/p/pink_floyd/time_ver4_guitar_pro.htm

Tabs (Text): http://tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/p/pink_floyd/time_ver5_tab.htm

Backing Track: http://www.guitarbackingtrack.com/play/pink_floyd/time_(4).htm

Inspiration:

Here’s a video of Gilmour performing the solo live at the Royal Albert Hall: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ihQT-RlFbc4

 

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January 30th
2013
written by Jeff Koke | 0 Comments

I love solos that use the whole neck of the guitar. That’s one of the reasons I liked learning Shine On You Crazy Diamond so much. Welcome to the Jungle is great in that regard, especially for such a short solo. It really makes good use of all the real estate. It’s also a lot of fun to play and harder to get right than it seemed when I first started learning it. I think it turned out well.

PS: If I look a little mad in the video, it’s because in earlier takes I kept missing notes at the end, and the takes were otherwise perfect until the very end — I was getting really frustrated with myself. I didn’t even have the energy to smile when I finally did nail it. Oh well.

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January 23rd
2013
written by Jeff Koke | 0 Comments

Before I get into what this song and solo mean to me, let me say I’m glad to be back. I knew a big project like this, that’s likely to go on for a few years, was bound to have some long periods of inactivity. I didn’t expect this break to last a year, but here we are. I don’t have any good explanation for why I stopped practicing. Partly it was the distractions of family and work commitments, and partly it was just good old fashioned burnout. And once I had let it go for a while, it was hard to get back into the groove. But here I am. I’ve been practicing steadily for a couple of weeks, relearning some of the old solos, growing back my callouses, and getting ready to tackle Slash.

Screen Shot 2013-01-23 at 7.32.24 PMLike most of the guys my age I first heard Welcome to the Jungle via the video on MTV (which you can watch here). I had been out of high school for a while, flunked out of a semester of college at UT and was working the night shift at the IRS. The music video was on heavy rotation in 1987 and although I didn’t know why I liked it so much at the time, I realize now that it was because Guns N’ Roses killed the ’80s hair band. They kind of looked like Poison and Cinderella, but their music was edgy, raw and complex, without the forced “bad boy” image of bands like Mötley Crüe and Ratt.

They really were bad boys. They shot heroin and drank Jack Daniels straight from the bottle. People rioted and threw beer bottles at the stage during their concerts. They put a half-naked woman who had been raped by a robot on their debut album cover. And their music was fucking good.

Their songs were well-produced, but not over-produced. They were all great musicians, but the songs had a feeling like they were always about to come off the rails. They were indulgent and authentic at the same time. And a big reason for that was the amazing solo work of Slash.

I have to admit, I’m a little scared of taking on a Slash solo. Not only is he an amazing guitarist with incredible skill and a very distinctive style, his solo work is just super, super clean. It’s going to take a lot of practice to match the clean notes with the deceptively simple-sounding, but actually pretty difficult riffs.

Here’s the Les Paul Goldtop that Slash played in the early years. It’s a beautiful guitar with a tone that is very full and rich. I’m lucky enough to have a Les Paul from around that time (1989) and I’m hopeful I can get a similar sound.

Resources

Guitar Lesson: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dn1BHBtVJVg

Tabs (GuitarPro): http://tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/g/guns_n_roses/welcome_to_the_jungle_ver3_guitar_pro.htm

Tabs (Text): http://tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/g/guns_n_roses/welcome_to_the_jungle_solo_tab.htm

Backing Track: http://www.guitarbackingtrack.com/play/guns_n_roses/welcome_to_the_jungle_(2).htm

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February 2nd
2012
written by Jeff Koke | 1 Comment

This solo didn’t take me as long as my radio silence on this blog would indicate. I had to take a hiatus from practicing for a while due to work pressures and other family commitments that cropped up over the past few weeks.

I got back into practicing a few days ago and polished it off fairly quickly. I’m proud of how this turned out. Let me know if it captures the essence of Mick Jones’ raunchy style.

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November 20th
2011
written by Jeff Koke | 1 Comment

I bought my first LP in 1978. I was 11 years old. My dad had given me and my brother, Jak, a stereo system for Christmas the year before and handed down a few of his albums, but our collection was quite limited — a couple of Neil Diamond and ABBA records that he didn’t listen to anymore.

Jak bought a few Styx and Journey albums, and he got some heavy metal albums from a friend whose evangelical Mom had forced him to get rid of them. My first contribution to our shared collection was the debut Foreigner album, simply called Foreigner. I had heard “Feels Like the First Time” and “Cold as Ice” on the radio, but I fell in love with some of the other, less-known songs like “Long, Long Way from Home,” “Starrider,” and “Headknocker”. The feeling of playing the first music that I had purchased with my own money is something I can’t describe, but in a way I was proud of that album, and that made me like it even more.

I wanted to include a Foreigner solo in this project, but none of the songs on their first album had the right combination of difficulty and length. I already discussed my experience with Jukebox Hero, so I didn’t want to rehash that, so I picked the raunchy, instant-classic solo from “Hot Blooded”. Here’s the whole song. Solo starts at 2:40.

I bought the album Double Vision pretty soon after Foreigner and I was a little nervous bringing it home and putting it on the turntable. Would I be disappointed after loving their first album so much? The driving beat and distortion guitar at the beginning of “Hot Blooded” caught me instantly. I was not disappointed. The solo fits perfectly in the progression, with some difficult speed work, insane bends and a reckless feel. I can’t wait to dive in.

Mick Jones is more well-known as a songwriter and producer, but he’s an amazing guitar player. He’s not one to solo for 3-4 minutes, but his short solos pack a lot of power and skill. Here’s a picture of his signature black Gibson Les Paul. He’s lately been seen playing a sunburst Les Paul, but this is the one he’s best known for.

Resources

Backing Track: http://www.guitarbackingtrack.com/play/foreigner/hot_blooded_(2).htm
Tabs: http://tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/f/foreigner/hot_blooded_guitar_pro.htm
Lesson: http://vanderbilly.com/Guitar-Lesson-foreigner-hot-blooded-part-22-solo,11986,1.html

Inspiration

Live in Concert in the mid-80s: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lDnXll1zyNA

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November 7th
2011
written by Jeff Koke | 1 Comment

Two weeks later and it’s done. I’m kind of sad to see this one over with. It’s such a fun solo to play, with bends all over the place and a lot of movement up the neck. But I must move on. Let me know what you think.

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October 24th
2011
written by Jeff Koke | 1 Comment

In 1981, when I was a sophomore in high school, and my older brother Jak was a senior, I relied on him for transportation to and from school. He drove my Dad’s old 1979 VW microbus, which we affectionately termed the “Magic Bus” (and which I would later inherit and use for illicit activities). I remember one day he picked me up, and as I got into the passenger seat, he turned to me and said “You gotta hear this.” He slipped a fresh white cassette in to the cassette player and turned the volume up.

The first raunchy chords of “Back in Black” boomed from the speakers. It was my first exposure to AC/DC and I had never heard anything like it. The singer had a voice that sounded like a cross between a growl and a scream. We drove slowly around the high school parking lot. By the time “You Shook Me All Night Long” came on, I was hooked. I knew I would love this band forever. I later went back and listened to the older stuff, with Bon Scott, and fell in love with that too, but it would never have the visceral gut-level appeal that the album Back in Black does for me.

Although there are many good solos on that album, I chose “You Shook Me…” because I feel it captures the essence of Angus Young’s solo style and it has a great build up to it that sounds fun to play. Here’s the full song and the original music video on YouTube.

I don’t have an SG, but I think I can get a similar sound from my Les Paul. Here’s a photo of Angus Young’s signature cherry SG — what a sweet guitar:

I never got to see AC/DC live as a teenager, and now that I could see them (they are playing Houston and Dallas in a few weeks), I find the thought mildly distasteful. I don’t want to ruin my memories of that time with a chunky Brian Johnson and balding Angus parading around the stage. I’m sure they still sound great, but they are way past their glory days.

Here’s how I want to remember Angus Young, the wild child with the schoolboy outfit who just knew how to rock:

Resources:

Video Lesson: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ydOctq2pJOo

Text  Tabs: http://tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/a/ac_dc/you_shook_me_all_night_long_ver13_tab.htm

GuitarPro Tab: http://tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/a/ac_dc/you_shook_me_all_night_long_ver4_guitar_pro.htm

 

Inspiration:

A live version of the song from a concert in 1991

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October 3rd
2011
written by Jeff Koke | 0 Comments

Whew!

This is the first solo where I’m just glad it’s over. I don’t want to denigrate The Cars or Eliot Easton in any way. The song and the solo are amazing. It’s just not my style and it’s so damn fast.

I’m really glad I stuck with it, though. The speed and finger work I had to learn will definitely help me down the road. That said, I cannot wait to start learning the next solo, which is…  well, you’ll have to wait until tomorrow to learn that.

I recorded this one sitting down. Standing up was just not comfortable for this one. Let me know how I did.

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September 22nd
2011
written by Jeff Koke | 0 Comments

I know. I know. It’s been forever since I posted. I bet you thought I had given up on this project.

But no. I’m still here and still plugging away. The summer was difficult as there is not a set routine, and finding the time to practice proved hard, but since school has started and I am back on a predictable routine, I’ve been practicing religiously. It’s starting to pay off.

Here’s a very rough video of where I am on Best Friend’s Girl. It’s by far the most difficult solo I’ve tried to learn, but I think I’m getting there. Let me know in the comments.

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