A Background

The Troggs

Garage rock is the most hard-hitting of the early genres, taking cues from the bands of the British invasion and paving the way for the punk revolution. The defining characteristic of the music is the simple structure and the minimalistic set of chords used. It’s termed garage rock because after the British invasion in the 1960s, many middle-class American teens formed bands and bashed out three-chord compositions in their garages. This raw, straightforward sound doesn’t offer much in the way of musical complexity, but combined with the fuzz-laden guitar it produces something intriguingly minimalistic and wrought with angst. Bands like the 13th Floor Elevators, the Sonics and the Seeds were a huge influence on early punk acts like the Stooges and more modern bands like the White Stripes and the Black Keys. The series focuses on how you get the iconic sound in your own guitar playing.

The basic open chords can get you pretty far in garage rock, because the bands usually don’t stray too far from a simple formula. This lesson introduces you to the basic major, minor and seventh chords that will be useful as you pick up the garage rock sound.

The second lesson expands your knowledge of chords and introduces you to the two most important types of chord for garage rock, the power chord and the barre chord. They both have moveable shapes, so this lesson effectively teaches any chord you’ll need when you’re playing garage rock. Using these simple shapes, you can create songs in any key, with majors, minors and sevenths included.

The third lesson teaches you about getting the right attitude in your playing. Garage rock isn’t big on the soft, casual strumming you’ll find in folk. The most important things to focus on are downstrokes, and incorporating accents and dead strums can help keep the pulse of the beat going and the energy up. This lesson shows you everything you need to know and includes plenty of examples.

The next lesson moves on to the composition of garage rock songs. It’s a great introduction to songwriting because they take the basic formula (that can be applied to many genres of music) and make some unique changes to produce the back-to-basics garage rock style. If you’re theory-shy, don’t worry, just a short, simple lesson is enough to get you composing your own garage rock.

The final lesson relating to getting the sound in your playing looks at the individual runs of notes often incorporated into garage rock songs. The lesson shows you a simple, “cheat” method for writing a riff or an ending to a chord progression, and also shows you a couple of moveable scale shapes.

The last article in the series focuses on getting the characteristic fuzz tone. Learning the genre’s playing conventions gets you the majority of the way, but you have to dial in the distortion if you’re planning on really sounding like the 60s garage band. Here, you’ll be introduced to fuzz pedals and multi-effects units, and you’ll also learn how you can approximate the effect on your amplifier.

So grab your electric guitar and fire up your amplifier, it’s time to get started!