Hot Roddin' Boogie: A Rockabilly Roundup

Rockabilly music is an exciting, purely American art form that emerged in the 50’s and swept away teens with its high-octane rhythms. Guitarists such as Scatty Moore (with Elvis Presley) and Cliff Gallup (with Gene Vincent), along with Carl Perkins, created a style as popular as today as it was 30 and even 40 years ago. The original rockabilly guitarists played semi-hollow Gretsches and Guilds, but our guitar lesson works on any ax that suits you.

An important part of the rockabilly sound is slapback echo - an electronically generated single repeat that immediately follows the original note. Slapback was first produced in the recording studio using tape echo, but you can duplicate it with an inexpensive digital or analog delay unit. Adjusting for the tempo of the song, set your delay to produce a single repeat of about 100 milliseconds. Make sure the second note is about the same volume as the first. For an example of this technique, listen to Elvis’ Mystery ‘Bain from the famous Sun sessions. To avoid getting confused, learn the music thoroughly before experimenting with slapback. Playing the notes staccato will bring out the echo clearly. It sounds great on both rhythm and lead guitar parts.

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