How to play in the style of Jeff Beck

Hello everyone!
Today we talk about a topic that has often been asked to me: how to play in the style of Jeff Beck.

As I wrote in the title of the article, the goal will be to get closer to the style of one of the most influential guitarists in the history of Rock, as Jeff Beck’s style is almost unique and inimitable.

However, what we can do is outline some points we can keep in mind to bring that kind of “sound” into our playing.

  • Play with the fingers of your right hand. No pick.

As you might have undoubtedly noticed, one of the prerogatives in the style of Jeff Beck is precisely the use of the fingers of the right hand rather than the pick. In the beginning, this may seem to be something challenging (indeed it is – we need to study and adapt our technique to this aspect). That is why it is crucial to start working with the thumb and index finger of the right hand. Just as if we were working with alternate picking.

Thumbs down = downwards picking
Index up = upwards picking

You can try playing the pentatonic modes all over the fingerboard using this type of technique.

  • Using the Vibrato bar

Jeff Beck cannot exist without the vibrato bar and vice versa! Jeff Beck has influenced dozens and dozens of significant guitarists. Just think of Scott Henderson, Mike Landau, who mention Beck as a source of inspiration precisely in the use of this “effect.”

What Beck does is almost simulate the sound of the slide: it often “bends” the introductory note by a semitone (down or up).

He also plays the semitone descending from the starting note by pulling the bar down, with an incredible pitch precision.

The exercise we can do is this: let’s play any note within a given scale that is preceded by a semitone by “folding” the note with the bar.

E.g., play C (third string), fold the note with the bar until it reaches B, play A (on the fourth) ending with a final vibrato.

It is essential to pay attention to the right intonation when bending the chromatic notes. Also, remember not to put your hand on the bar when you are not using it: you would lose the overall pitch immediately!

  • Getting The Right Sound

Getting the Jeff Beck sound is not easy. If we consider his live rig we realize that it is difficult to replicate that “at home.” However, we can approach it with a couple of tricks.

First of all, let’s try to close the tones on the strat: the bridge position or the fourth are the ones that best fit this type of sound. The second step, let’s use a distortion (not a fuzz). I use a Vertex Dynamic Distortion (if you are a student of my academy you are entitled to a get a great discount! Write me for more info) that I set with a reasonably high gain that I “clean” if necessary through the volume pot of the guitar.

  • Hammer-on & Pull-off

Don’t underestimate the use of legato! Using only the pick we need to have lots of dynamic nuances and a different attack than the pick.

For this reason, I suggest you enhance this technique as much as possible!

If you want I have written an article on this topic, click here to read it. 

Below you will find the video of the Masterclass I did live on my Facebook page, where I explain all these points step by step.

If you are interested in starting an educational path together and participate in exclusive Masterclasses open only to students each week, take a look at the Membership option, the most complete educational solution to improve your playing on the Blues!

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All the best,

Davide Pannozzo

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