How To Play Race With The Devil by Cliff Gallup
- Part 1: Rhythm Guitar
I only got into the music of rock n roll legend Cliff Gallup relatively recently, but after I learned this track and a couple of others, it was easy to see why his playing is held in such high regard. This song contains many of his most famous licks and, as I say in the video, if you learn it from start to finish you'll be giving yourself a thorough schooling in the style and techniques of rockabilly guitar. Gallup has been described as one of the first shredders and he was certainly technically a long way ahead of his time. Even for the modern player this song is still quite demanding, and you'll want to get it together slowly and accurately first if you want to play it with groove and precision at the tempo of the original.
Below is my transcription of the intro and verse part. Cliff Gallup is one of those players of whom there appears to be no video footage, (I couldn't locate any on You Tube - let me know if you can find anything elsewhere) so I've just followed my ears and my instincts as far as the particular fingerings I've chosen go. It works well, and feels right to me. Other people might do it a bit differently, and you're certainly free to experiment with playing notes on other strings or in different positions if you like. I've marked the most obvious whammy bar scoops with the little v-type symbol above the tab. The subsequent verses are almost identical to this one. When the key change kicks in, just move everything one fret higher to the key of F. Click here if you want a high-quality PDF you can print off.
Getting The Sound
If you're a real gear nerd you might like to check out this article I found which goes into the minutiae of Cliff's equipment. Even if you don't own the Gretsch Duo-Jet and vintage tube amp that our man used, you should still be able to get close using whatever gear you have. The key elements to the sound are a fairly warm, clean tone and some kind of delay effect. Use a clean, Fender-y sounding amp, with a fairly low gain setting. Dial back the treble if you've got a particularly bright sounding guitar. Grab a delay pedal and set it to a single, fairly quick repeat for that classic rock n roll slap-back echo. It helps if you have a guitar with a whammy bar so you can do some of the little glides into notes. In the absence of a Duo-Jet, I'm using my Bigsby-equipped Les Paul which actually works quite well for this song. Usually I'm a stickler for using old-school gear and effects, but for convenience when filming this video I recorded straight into my computer and used Amplitube software (a Fender tweed emulation) to get the guitar tone.