Learn to Play: Riffs in the Key of Link Wray

Like Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, and so many guitarists before him, Reverb's Joe Shadid is a big fan of Link Wray—the influential rocker whose "Rumble," upon its 1958 release, made an indelible impression on nearly every would-be guitarist that heard it.

Today, Joe is taking a look at four other riffs from throughout Link Wray's career, employing a Guild Jetstar to start, in place of the various guitars, from Airlines to SGs, that Wray was known to use.

For "El Toro," Joe adds a Lawrence Petross Design Sixty 8 Drive to bring some saturation to his signal chain. The 1961 track has a spaghetti-western vibe, with some high-register bends over an A-major chord progression.

A decade later, in 1971, Link Wray released a self-titled album that brought acoustic guitars into a stew of funk and country. "Rise and Fall of Jimmy Stokes" is "a great example of having a very simple guitar part that has a lot of legs," Joe says. "There's loads of room. You can rock on that all day."

"Midnight Lover" from 1975's Stuck In Gear is a fuzzed-out take on a minor pentatonic scale. You'll need a whammy bar to faithfully execute the lick, so Joe uses a Bigsby-equipped Telecaster along with a KMA Audio Machines Minos Germanium Fuzz to craft the searing tone. Joe explains how the part "shows how you can take a simple minor pentatonic shape and, depending on what the harmony's doing underneath it—the bass—you can have a completely different sounding riff."

The fourth and final part Joe takes on is from Wray's "Deuces Wild". Though the song was originally released in 1964, Joe is looking at a particular live version of the track from Wray's 1997 live album Walking Down a Street Called Love. For this riff, Joe is still using the Minos fuzz, but swaps a Gibson SG for the Tele.

Be sure to check out the full video above, and browse all of Link Wray's albums on Reverb LP.


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