by Iron Butterfly
In this lesson I’m looking at a psychedelic rock classic from Iron Butterfly. Guitar on the original version was I think played by Erik Brann who was only 17 when he recorded it. But over the years the band went through a comically convoluted series of line-up changes, including over a dozen guitarists. (Just look at their Wikipedia page for a nerdy colour-coded bar graph of the myriad different members.) The original song is over 15 minutes long, taking up the entire second side of their In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida -Album, but I’m just concentrating on the main riff, which has long been a favourite of mine. It’s reasonably easy to play, and I’ve not much to add to what I say in the video here. It’s possible to play the riff in 3 or 4 different places on the neck, but I’m going with what feels and sounds right to my ears. There’s not much clear video footage of Brann himself playing it, so it’s hard to be 100% certain. I’ll leave the fingering up to you; I think I play everything with fingers 1, 2 and 3. There’s nothing particularly fast or technical here, so it can probably be played with mostly down strokes in the picking hand.
Getting The Sound
Much of the greatness of this riff resides in its guitar sound which is a raw, garage-y 60s fuzz tone. Any nasty sounding fuzz or distortion box should get you close but a Mosrite Fuzzrite was used on the original – a classic pedal also used by Johnny Ramone and Ron Asheton of The Stooges as well as being responsible for sounds heard on Ennio Morricone spaghetti western soundtracks. I’d love to have one, but they’re not cheap, and quite hard to come by these days. For this video I’m making do with a software version found inside Amplitube – obviously nowhere near as cool as the original, but still a useable sound. A few pedal makers seem to be making Fuzzrite copies these days which I might have to investigate.
I’ve tabbed out the various different riffs below. Download PDF here.