Learn to play J Mascis's riffs and solo from Dinosaur Jr's Out There

J Mascis
(Image credit: Andy Willsher/Redferns/Getty Images)

We're tackling some of J Mascis's classic Dinosaur Jr riffs / solo parts here in the song Out There – the opener from 1993's Where You Been album. 

Get the tone 

For guitar selection I'd recommend a Jazzmaster or Strat as you'll want the tremolo bar for the solo, but you could get away with a Tele too if you're not fussed about the vibrato effect! 

Electro Harmonix

(Image credit: Electro Harmonix)

Any Big Muff-style fuzz pedal will get you close (J Mascis has a signature Ram's Head fuzz and it's actually no different in tonal spec to the standard Ram's Head version), but he will often use his Zvex Double Rock before the fuzz to somewhat tame the sonics. His tone is pretty raucous but there's still clarity to it and stacking the pedals like this helps in that respect. 


Standard tuning but you'll need a capo on the third fret.

Video lesson and technique tips 

The rhythm parts are fairly straight forward, but the intro requires some dexterity as you'll be adding melody lines while other notes from the chords ring out, plus some arpeggiation to keep things moving. 

Some lovely chord voicings throughout too but the main technique is saved for the solo with generous use of the whammy bar to get some pitch vibrato and also to raise the pitch in a few places, whilst still creating that vibrato effect. 

It's broken up rhythmically with some dotted 8th and quarter notes peppered here and there, but I wouldn't be too prescriptive here – approach it with a punk rock approach and have fun! 

Dinosaur Jr's J Mascis: “Coming from drumming, the guitar was so one-dimensional. I had to find all these things to make it more dynamic and expressive“

Matt Webster

Matt spends his spare time teaching guitar lessons and creating gear demos on his YouTube channel Let's Play All, which covers all manner of styles, but he does have a special place in his heart for '90s grunge and alt rock.