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Play like Jack White

Explore the high-octane blues playing of The White Stripes’ Jack White

The White Stripes' guitarist Jack White definitely has an 'unschooled' approach to playing guitar, but to play like this is harder than some of you may think.

Jack and drummer Meg hail from Detroit, Michigan and their minimalist garage punk-meets-blues style references artists as disparate as Captain Beefheart, Cole Porter and Blind Willie McTell. Jack himself often makes mind-blowing solo excursions on his Airline guitar, using Whammy pedal antics and more recently an Electro-Harmonix POG octave generator, slide and an inordinate amount of fuzz.

Like Jimi Hendrix, while White's compositions are mostly pop or rock-inspired, when it comes to his solos they're straight out of the blues - albeit imbued with Jack's unique phrasing, note choice and tone.

Jack White is a fingers player and, in order to get that organic feel, you'd do best to ditch your pick completely. Both the backing rhythm and lead solo here were played that way. The weird 'stuttering' effect comes from repeatedly picking with the first finger and immediately muting with the thumb. In Jack's own solos he will take things much farther 'out' than this, but it's to break yourself into these techniques gently.

Rather than stay within one pentatonic scale, such as E minor pentatonic, notice how White sometimes goes to A and B minor pentatonic as the chords change. Although you'll finnd many 'questionable' notes in a White Stripes guitar solo - as far as straight music theory is concerned - try to dismiss what's conventionally 'correct' and simply let the music get to you.

White's gear

Crank up the front end as much as you like and, if you've got a fuzzbox, plug it in and turn it up to the max. Jack White notoriously uses mainly vintage gear (his red Airline guitar is now an icon), but any humbucking instrument and an assemblage of distortion stompboxes, not to mention a DigiTech Whammy pedal, should get you in the right ballpark. Keep the sound dry and stick to the bridge pickup for most impact, although White often uses amplifier spring reverb so feel free to experiment with this too.

Click here for full-sized tab.

Audio - Full track

Audio - Just the licks

Audio - Playalong


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