this note’s for you

So you want to be a rock and roll star. But you don’t have time to learn how to play.

Not a problem Becoming a guitar hero can be as simple as striking a pose and hitting the right note. And by the right note, I’m talking a single note, played repeatedly and forcefully. If the note is right, your ascendance to guitar-godness is a mere matter of marketing. After all, few guitarists (if any) can aspire to the greatness that is, say, the solo in Lou Christie’s Lightnin’ Strikes — in its way, the wildest guitar solo in the history of pop music — there is much to be said for the virtue of restraint. Even in rock and roll.

And so, budding masters of the fretboard, take it! Consider this your first lesson in how to be a legendary lead guitarist. Each of the following classic-rock solos can be yours with as little effort as one finger on one fret.

Yes, kids. Rock and roll really is that easy.

1. Vampire Blues

Neil Young is the king of the one-note solo, having brought it our way in such gems as Rapid Transit, the live CSNY rendition of Southern Man and, perhaps most memorably, Cinnamon Girl. In the interest of keeping things interesting, he plays with a number of notes during the first solo for this On the Beach obscurity. But when confronted with the need for a second solo…

2. I Wanna Be Sedated

Duplicating guitar legend Johnny Ramone’s best-known solo is as simple as, well, playing the high “E” string on your guitar for eight bars. That’s right, you don’t even have to put down your beer to play like Johnny. How rock and roll is that?

3. The Chain

Being Lindsey Buckingham and all, the Fleetwood Mac guitarist cannot resist the urge to throw in a few extra notes at the end of this solo that otherwise expands on Johnny Ramone’s “E” string work by bringing it up an octave after a few bars. Tricky, but still within reach of the non-guitarist. (Except for that fancy stuff during the fade.)

4. I Can See For Miles

It’s two notes, I suppose, but still only one finger on one fret required. I think it’s (you guessed it) an “E” again  the favourite note of the minimalist lead guitarist. Almost impossible not to impress your friends with this one.

5. Tommy Gun

A key change means having to adjust that note for the solo that comes near the end of the song — a curious move for a populist group. Also, there is technically an additional note required. But no one will notice if you can’t manage it.

And there we have it: lesson one in how to become a guitar god. For lesson two, we might move on to single-chord solos like Gang of Four’s Armalite Rifle and Anthrax, or the dandy play-in-a-day chord in Crazy Elephant’s 1969 golden oldie Gimme Gimme Good Lovin’, a track that also features a keyboard solo that is ideal for beginners. But then, we’re already getting ahead of ourselves.

For the moment, let’s keep it to one note. Now, have you found the “E” string yet? Then let’s begin…

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