Video lesson: remembering Glen Campbell and his acoustic style | Guitar (2023)

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From the November 2017 issue of Acoustic Guitar| BYADAM ROYALTY

In the late 1960s and into the 1970s, variety shows were a staple of American television. Supported by charismatic hosts who can sing, laugh in skits and maybe even dance a little, these shows (usually an hour long) would also feature multi-talented guests.

Among the most popular variety shows from this period includeDie Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour,Die Dean-Martin-Show,The Sonny and Cher Show, jDie Johnny-Cash-Show. When I tuned into one of these shows like so many viewers do, I just couldn't get around Glen Campbell, who has appeared on all of the shows mentioned above and others. With movie star looks, good boy charm (he grew up in rural Arkansas), a sweet voice and a spectacular command of the guitar, Campbell was a sought-after guest. He even hosted his own variety show from January 1969 to the summer of 1972:Glen Campbell's Good Weather Hour.

Television wasn't the only medium Campbell seemed particularly suited to. If you were within earshot of a radio during that time, you would surely hear Campbell singing "Gentle on My Mind," "Wichita Lineman," or "By the Time I Get to Phoenix." It was remarkably successful in crossing stylistic boundaries: "Rhinestone Cowboy" surpassedbillboardIndustry magazine Hot 100 charts as well as Hot Country Singles and Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks charts.

Campbell favored a variety of guitars throughout his career, but if he's associated with a specific brand, it would be Ovation, a manufacturer that thrived in the 1970s, building easy-to-amplify rounded-back electro-acoustic models from synthetic materials. In 1969, Campbell became one of the company's early patrons and played his instruments regularly on stage and screen. Ovation recently introduced the Glen Campbell Signature Model, a meticulous recreation of Campbell's original 1771 model.

(Video) Guitar Lesson: Remembering Glen Campbell and His Acoustic Style

As Campbell developed his own recording career, he also spent hours as a studio guitarist on sessions for Elvis Presley, the Beach Boys, Frank Sinatra and others. During the 1960s he was frequently allied with the Wrecking Crew, a cadre of first-call session musicians who provided musical backing for countless hit recordings. He is one of the featured players in 2008.pestsDocumentation.

In the decades since Campbell's first hits, he has continued to record and release new music. His 64th studio recording,goodbyewas released in June 2017, just two months before his death from Alzheimer's'Illness, August 8th. The album was recorded in 2012 and 2013, just after his farewell tour when he was still relatively lucid. The moving documentationit will be mechronicles that 2011-2012 tour and Campbell's deteriorating condition. As the film shows, his acting could still be remarkably good even as his memory continued to fail. On stage, excellence in musicianship was never far from his reach.

Whether playing live or in the studio, working as a sideman or on his own albums, whether playing electric or acoustic (or baritone or 12-string, by the way), Campbell always displayed a distinctive style: driving, articulate, sharply melodic, and at times ironic . In almost all musical contexts and media, he was one of those musicians whose characteristic sound can be recognized in the first few notes. The following examples take a closer look at some of the key elements of Campbell's methodology.

The Rise of Phoenix

One of Campbell's best-known recordings is his 1967 version of "By the Time I Get to Phoenix," a timeless ballad written by composer Jimmy Webb and originally recorded by Johnny Rivers. In Campbell's intro he alternates between two major seventh chord voicings, not unlike the chords shown in FIGExample 1a. These melancholy chords, played over a static F in the bassist part, help set the song's melancholic mood.

In the verse sections, Campbell switches to a simple arpeggio pattern similar toExample 1b. (In the chord symbols, the notes to the right of the bars are played by the bass.) For this example, use hybrid selection, as Campbell has done frequently in various contexts over the years. Use your plectrum for notes on strings 3 and 4, your middle finger (Metro) on string 2 and your ring finger (a) on string 1. Be sure to play all eighth notes as evenly as possible here to give your arpeggios a gently undulating feel.

It's worth noting that on Rivers' recording of "By the Time I Get to Phoenix," recorded two years before Campbell's, the guitar parts are less memorable. Instead, the chords were arpeggiated in the intro and then strummed a little softly during the verses. Campbell was an experienced session player when he recorded his version of this song, which might explain why his parts on "Phoenix" are uncomplicated yet so specific, clearly delineating each section within the arrangement.


(Video) Glen Campbell Sings "Wichita Lineman" & Talks Guitar


In 1968, Campbell teamed up with singer Bobbie Gentry (Ode to Billie Joe fame) to record the album.Bobbie Gentry and Glen Campbell. "Mornin' Glory" from this record is similar in key and tempo to "Ode to Billie Joe", on which Gentry himself played guitar. However, Campbell makes "Mornin' Glory" his own by playing a distinctive intro and right-handed solo later in the song, both on a nylon-string guitar.

Example 2aIt's styled after Campbell's "Mornin' Glory" intro. Again, use a hybrid pickup. With your selection, play the open string bass note on the downbeat of each bar. Elsewhere, use your pick for notes on string 3, your middle finger (Metro) on string 2 and your ring finger (a) on string 1.

Campbell's guitar solo "Mornin' Glory" is the inspiration forExample 2b. It contains variations on a melodic three-note theme in the first two bars, another explored three-note theme in bar 3, then a long descending scale passage in bar 4, leading gently to the key-change in bar 5.On paper, this one looks pretty easy on its own. However, making as much music out of a few small ideas as great musicians can is never as easy, and that was one of Campbell's greatest strengths.

southern comfort

Campbell's use of hybrid picking was not limited to string rolls and arpeggios. He also used the technique to address two melody lines simultaneously, as illustrated inExample 3- based on the intro to their hit 1977 recording of "Southern Nights". (Campbell thanked fellow guitarist Jerry Reed for inspiring his funky, contrapuntal figure.) Play the first few bars with just your pick, and bar 4 with a combination of pick (stem notes down) and middle finger (stem notes down). above). First, try practicing the top and bottom rows separately. This way you have a better chance of playing them with confidence and clarity once you've combined them.

(Video) Glen Campbell - Gentle on My Mind (terrific guitar break)

not so dirty dozen

In the early 1960s, before Campbell's pop/country career was in full swing, he made a handful of records that emphasized folk and country styles more. Below that was the instrumentalGlen Campbell's amazing 12 string guitar, released in 1964. This album contained several original tunes interspersed with guitar-like interpretations of songs by well-known authors such as Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie and Peter Yarrow.

One of the more playful tracks on this record is Campbell's bluegrass-flavored "12 String Special." Campbell's main melody is played almost entirely in even eighth notes. (Because the piece is in cutoff time, the octaves feel like sixteenth notes.) This tune is played twice, then there is a bridge section, followed by a repeat of the original eight-bar phrase. Within each iteration of the main melody, Campbell places an accented quarter note on beat 4 of bar 4, which is sustained along the bar line until the downbeat of the next bar. Each time this setback is repeated, it playfully interrupts the steady stream of sound.


Campbell's 12-string guitar is tuned to a full tone throughoutGlen Campbell's amazing 12 string guitar. (This tactic is not uncommon for 12-string players. It makes the instrument easier to play and can help make it sound fuller.) If desired, for the next two examples, tune your guitar, either a 6-string or a 12 -string, one key lower (D G C F A D, low to high).

Example 4asimilar to the main melody section of 12-String Special, whileExample 4bit is inspired by the bridge of melody. Unlike the previous examples, you don't use a hybrid selection for Ex 4a or Ex 4b. Instead, use an alternative plucking technique: downbeats to downbeats (on beats 1, 2, 3, and 4) and upbeats to downbeats (on the "and" of each beat).

still on the line

(Video) Adios (Jimmy Webb - Glen Campbell version) to accompany guitar tab

While in that tuning, drop the 6th string another full step and place your guitar in a looser version of Drop D, with the whole thing one full step (C G C F A D). This allows you to approximate the sound of Campbell's bass lines from his 1968 recording of Wichita Lineman. Session bassist Carol Kaye says Campbell played the song's legendary solo on her Danelectro 6-string electric bass, which would have been tuned an octave below standard guitar tuning. (He also apparently used his dano for his solo on his "Galveston" recording.)Campbell was also known to use a Fender Bass VI in the same tuning for "Wichita Lineman" live performances. (There are also several videos on YouTube showing him soloing on normally tuned guitars in the standard guitar register.)

One thing that makes Campbell's originally recorded solo so compelling is that while it builds on the song's languid vocal melody, it has enough rhythmic variety to make it feel like more than a synopsis. It just filters in and holds your attention even when you think you know what's coming.Example 5it's in the spirit of Campbell's "Wichita Lineman" break. Pick down here whenever possible, like Campbell did when he came inDie Smothers Brothers Comedy Hourin 1969. This gives each dotted note a bit more weight.

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To the casual observer, Campbell might appear like a charming, golden-voiced entertainer who occasionally played a flashy guitar. However, the examples in this lesson serve to illustrate what his devoted fans have known for decades: Glen Campbell was always a great musician.

This article originally appeared on NovemberEdition 2017Acoustic Guitar Magazine.

(Video) GLEN CAMPBELL ~ 1971 Guitar Method Instruction Audio Book from plastic record VERY RARE!

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Did Glen Campbell use a pick? ›

those are actually artist used picks. He stacks about 24 or so on his mic stand for each concert. I have yet to see a GC pick that was personalized that claimed he used it. All the concerts I saw with Glen...he used the same pick and when he wasn't using it, stuck it in his pants pocket.

What Guitar did Glen Campbell use? ›

Perhaps the most sought-after and unique Ovation guitar associated with Campbell was the elusive “Bluebird” model. Hand-crafted exclusively for Glen in the late 70's, the Bluebird's design was based on the Ovation Viper solid body and was produced in both 12-string and 6-string models.

Where does Glen Campbell rank as a guitarist? ›

25: Glen Campbell

Those bass string solos on “Galveston” and “Wichita Lineman” are models of economy, but if you really want to be impressed, check out his live version of “MacArthur Park,” proving his spot on a list of the greatest guitarists is more than well-earned.

Did Elvis know Glen Campbell? ›

Richard also states that Elvis and Glen did become friends later on in life and one night Glen and Tom Jones came to Elvis' suite at the International Hotel while Elvis was performing.

How good at guitar was Glen Campbell? ›

Glen Campbell was undoubtedly one of the greatest guitarists in the history of recorded music, but a video compilation of his best solos over the years is still amazing, even if you know that going in.

Did Glen Campbell play a 12-string guitar? ›

Glen Campbell Plays 12 String Guitar contains instrumental-only songs, the majority of which were taken from The Swinging 12 String originally released by The In Group featuring Glen Campbell on twelve string guitar and Leon Russell on harpsichord.
Glen Campbell Plays 12 String Guitar
3 more rows

Who is Eric Clapton's favorite guitarist? ›

However, the greatest, according to Eric Clapton, the bonafide guitar god, is Albert Lee. The guitarist has worked with some big names, including Emmylou Harris and The Everly Brothers. Considering Clapton's appraisal, we all should be listening to Lee: “He's the greatest guitarist in the world.

What is the greatest guitar solo of all time? ›

1. "Stairway to Heaven" — Jimmy Page, Led Zeppelin (1971) Since its release in 1971, "Stairway to Heaven" has topped numerous lists as the best rock song and best guitar solo of all time, and it's primarily thanks to the masterful architecture of Jimmy Page's guitar solo.

Who is the best country guitarist of all time? ›

Rock Out at Home: The 10 Most Legendary Country Guitarists of all Time
  • Chet Atkins. James Stiltner. 80.5K subscribers. ...
  • Albert Lee. Jules BONNOT. ...
  • Luther Perkins. When The Cowboy Sings. ...
  • Marty Stuart. KEXP. ...
  • Vince Gill. IBWIV. ...
  • Brent Mason. Nashville Guitar Community. ...
  • James Burton. Joe Augello. ...
  • Roy Nichols. MerleHaggardVEVO.
20 Oct 2020

Who is the greatest female guitarist of all time? ›

1: Sister Rosetta Tharpe

Heading this list of the best female guitarists in history, this early gospel artist really did invent a lot of the distorted tones that blues and rock players would later adopt – but before she did, Sister Rosetta Tharpe recorded some of the most fluid acoustic leads on record.

Who is the greatest acoustic guitarist of all time? ›

13 Of The Greatest And Most Famous Acoustic Guitar Players Of All...
  • Paul Simon.
  • Nick Drake.
  • Chet Atkins.
  • Maybelle Carter.
  • Charo.
  • Elizabeth “Libba” Cotten.
  • Joni Mitchell.
  • John Fahey.
14 Jun 2022

Who did Jimi Hendrix think was the best guitarist? ›

Douglas asked Hendrix: “What's it was like to be the best rock guitarist in the world?” Jimi then beautifully responded, “I don't know, you'll have to ask Rory Gallagher”. For that reason alone, he could easily be considered Jimi's all-time favourite.

Did Glen Campbell have perfect pitch? ›

He has perfect pitch,” says Glen's proud, though stressed wife Kim Campbell, adding that what her beloved sings stopped making sense long ago. “He sings a lot.

Did Led Zeppelin ever meet Elvis? ›

The final meeting between Zeppelin and Elvis took place on the Baltimore airport tarmac while both were on tour in 1977. Elvis' stepbrother David Stanley later recalled the encounter. 'There was one other time the Elvis tour ran across the band while out on the road. It was at the Washington / Baltimore airport.

Did Alice Cooper almost shoot Elvis? ›

Alice Cooper has revealed he nearly shot Elvis Presley after meeting the King of rock and roll in Las Vegas in 1971. The Poison singer recalled the unusual meeting, which took place in Elvis' hotel room, when Presley took out a gun and asked Cooper to shoot him in the head.

Who was a better guitar player Glen Campbell or Roy Clark? ›

In country music, who was the better guitar player, Glen Campbell or Roy Clark? Roy Clark was good, but Glen Campbell was one of the best guitars ever. FYI, Glen Campbell didn't read music.

Was Glen Campbell the greatest guitarist? ›

In any genre of popular music, Glen Campbell was undoubtedly one of the greatest guitarists who ever lived. For a guy who never learned to read music, Campbell's natural control on these kinds of scales is incredible. He wasn't just a workaday session guitarist with hundreds of song credits by age 27.

What was Merle Haggard's favorite guitar? ›

Martin acoustics or Fender Telecaster guitars have been his preference for some time. In 2001, Martin Guitars gave him a special edition of the Martin 000-28MH. Merle Haggard is best known for his butterscotch Fender Telecaster, which is his most well-known creation.

Did Led Zeppelin use a 12-string guitar? ›

Album: Houses of the Holy (1973)

Stairway might be the most revered song on this list, but there's no denying Over The Hills and Far Away as the quintessential 12-string guitar song in Led Zeppelin's catalog. Yes, that Davey Graham was a great guitar player...

What is special about the 12th fret? ›

“The 12-fret bridge is sitting farther back into the meat of the guitar,” said Fender Acoustics Vice President of Product Development Brian Swerdfeger. “It's the widest part of the lower bout. 12-fret guitar guitars tend to be warmer, fuller sounding, because of where the bridge is located.”

Is a 12-fret guitar easier to play? ›

Beginners and smaller players may find that 12-fret guitars are easier and more comfortable to play, since their fretting hand doesn't have to extend quite as far to reach open position. In the end, it comes down to tone, aesthetics, and what feels right for the player.

Did Stevie Ray Vaughan play with a pick? ›

Vaughan favored Fender Medium picks, and played with the round end of the pick, maintaining that the rounded end allowed for more string attack than the tip.

Did Doc Watson use a pick? ›

Watson was one of the first guitarists to play fiddle tunes. He did it because he often performed at country dances with bands that didn't have a fiddle player. He was also adept at playing with finger picks and a thumb pick.

Did Jeff Beck ever use a pick? ›

Beck stopped regular use of a pick in the 1980s. He produces a wide variety of sounds by using his thumb to pluck the strings, his ring finger on the volume knob and his little finger on the vibrato bar on his signature Fender Stratocaster.

Did Duane Allman play with a pick? ›

When he wasn't playing slide, Allman used a pick. Apparently he played Fender Heavy 351 picks, but you don't need to use the same picks to get those Skydog tones.

What gauge strings did Stevie Ray Vaughan play? ›

He actually played as light as 12s and as heavy as 17s at one point, but for most of his career, Stevie Ray Vaughan's main guitars, his Number One and Lenny that are super legendary, were strung up with 13s—which is probably what you've heard of when you heard about Stevie Ray Vaughan's guitar string gauges in the past ...

Does Eric Clapton use a guitar pick? ›

Eric Clapton uses heavy picks supplied to him by Ernie Ball, a manufacturer of guitar strings, picks and related items.

What guitarist didn't use a pick? ›

Chet Atkins

Chet was put on the planet to bring humility to all of us guitar players, and he didn't need no stinkin' plectrum to do it!

Did Freddie King play with a pick? ›

Freddie King had an unorthodox playing technique. He picked with his fingers, using a plastic pick on his thumb and a metal pick on his index finger. He used this metal pick to execute the piercing bends for which he is famous and add that extra bite to his sound.

What tuning did Doc Watson use? ›

>Doc has almost always played this in an open E tuning in E.

Did John Lennon play with a pick? ›

Lennon typically used a normal celluloid teardrop shaped pick. This is an image of one of his actual picks, recently sold at auction for $1500 (seriously!). If you're looking for something similar, Fender #354 is pretty close to this and Dunlop, D'Andrea, and multiple others also offer highly similar picks.

When should you throw away a guitar pick? ›

The short answer: If you are an average user, your picks should last a few weeks to a month. If you are a professional player, using specific techniques, like heavy picking and strumming, it will probably last just one day, especially if you are a studio musician recording new tracks every day.

Is it better to play guitar with or without a pick? ›

Using a pick gives you a brighter and more consistent tone than using your fingers, because the pick is made of the same material throughout, while plucking strings with different parts of your fingers produces different sounds.

Is it OK to play guitar without a pick? ›

It is absolutely acceptable to do both. In fact, the most versatile musicians often do. Keep an open mind and try both. You will never know which feels better if you don't try it both ways.

What tuning does Duane Allman play in? ›

He usually played slide in open tunings, most often open E (low to high, E B E G# B E) and occasionally open A (E A E A C# E). He also played slide in standard tuning on songs such as “Dreams” and “Mountain Jam.”

What kind of pickups did Duane Allman use? ›

The 'Fillmore Set' is the set of P.A.F. Pickups currently residing in Duane Allman's 1959 Gibson Les Paul Standard Cherry Burst, although it is essentially a tale of two guitars as the history of those pickups goes back a little farther than the Cherry Burst.


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