How To Play Breakdown (And Then…) by Rowland S Howard

In this lesson I look at a favourite track of mine from perhaps the ultimate cult guitar hero Rowland S Howard. 


I've written the music out below. There are four main sections: the intro, verse, chorus and outro. Structure is - I think - intro, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, outro. But make sure you listen to the original to get the precise number of repeats etc. Remember the tab numbers are relative to the capo, so for instance the actual 12th fret is notated as the 10th fret on the tab. If you'd like a high-quality PDF of the transcription click right here.


Rowland was definitely a bit of a minimalist when it comes to gear. Apart from in the very early days of The Birthday Party he only ever played one guitar - a white Fender Jaguar. Amp-wise he usually played through a Fender Twin. After a bit of googling I found this pretty comprehensive gear list:

1967 Fender Jaguar (Olympic White w/ tortoise pickguard, fretboard w/ block inlays, his main guitar until his death)
1976 Ibanez 2348 (Gibson Firebird copy, sunburst w/ white pickguard, fretboard w/ block inlays, used during the early years/The Boys Next Door era)
Fender Twin Reverb (various blackface and silverface models)
MXR Distortion + pedal (mid-70's script logo most likely)
MXR Blue Box pedal (mid-70's script logo most likely, an octave fuzz effect)
Studio Effects:
unknown 24-band graphic EQ pedal (rumored to have been used with all settings at 10)
Roland Space Echo (model ???, used for the guitar overdub on "The Friend Catcher" in conjunction with the MXR Distortion + and Blue Box)

For the video, I just tried to get reasonably close to the recording using the gear I've got. The guitar is my Fender Jazzmaster (American Vintage '65). Amp is a Fender Super Champ. As far as pedals go, I'm using a Fulltone Supa-Trem for the tremolo effect, a J Rockett Archer set as a kind of clean boost, and an early 90s Rat distortion for the heavy bits in the chorus.