by Iggy and The Stooges
In this lesson I take a look at The Stooges’ classic Search and Destroy. It’s made up of a series of great riffs and will really give your rhythm guitar skills a workout. As I say in the video, use my lesson as a rough guide. The most important thing here is the right attitude and the right tone.
Interestingly, there are at least a couple of different mixes of the song. The original mix was done by David Bowie, and Iggy Pop was always dissatisfied with the sound of it, so he did his own mix of it in the 1990’s. Iggy’s mix is definitely louder and heavier sounding, but some of the guitar parts are easier to hear on Bowie’s mix, so you might want to listen to both of them.
Below, I’ve written out the main riffs in the song. Download a high-quality PDF here. The rhythms are approximate – the way James Williamson does it varies throughout the song. The fingering of one of the linking lines in the pre-chorus is corrected from the way I do it on the video. Also check out an alternate version of the chorus with some added lead guitar licks. Life’s too short for me to transcribe all the lead guitar parts. Just turn up loud and improvise – it’s all C# minor pentatonic.
James Williamson shows us how it should be done…
After I’d already filmed this lesson I came across some great footage of James Williamson himself playing the tune. The real nerds amongst us (I include myself here) will definitely enjoy checking out the finer details of the way he does it. There are a couple of minor differences to the way I do it in my video. And some differences in the way he plays it here to the way he seems to play it on the original recording. I think it’s quite common for a part to evolve over time and often the way someone plays it live won’t be exactly like the recording.
He mentions he plays the opening riff with mainly downstrokes, so give that a try. I personally find it natural to play the F# to C bit with a loose down-up kind of strum and then dig in with the downstrokes on the power chords. Have a go both ways and see what feels best for you.
He plays the first part of the pre-chorus riff with a few extra single note linking lines. After very close listening, I really can’t hear these on the original recording. Maybe they are a second guitar part mixed really low, or perhaps it’s just something he’s added later when he plays the song live. Sounds great though, so have a go throwing them in if you like.
On the chorus he combines the power chords with some simple minor pentatonic-based single note lines. On the recording there are at least two different guitar tracks, one of which is just doing power chords (as I teach it) , and the other is playing some of these lead lines. It’s a bit hard to hear them clearly on the studio version, but here you can see exactly what he’s doing. I don’t think it’s a fixed part on the recording, as it seems to change a bit throughout the song. I’ve written out a couple of options, but it’s probably best to just improvise it your own way. If you’re playing the song with a friend then one of you could hold down the chords and the other could play the single note fills.
A quick word about tone and gear. Williamson usually plays a Les Paul, and I believe Search and Destroy was played on a Les Paul Custom. Amp-wise, he used one of my favourite amps, a Vox AC30:
“On the album, primarily for most of the stuff, I used a Vox AC-30. I know that’s a little-known fact. A lot of guys think I used a Marshall, ‘cos I always used a Marshall onstage. On some of the lead stuff, I would use a Marshall, but most all the rhythm stuff is AC-30. Some of the lead stuff was AC-30. I love those amps! Those still are, as far as I’m concerned, some of the greatest amps there ever were!”
For my video, I’m using my Jimmy Page Les Paul Custom, through a Marshall DSL401 amp. So as not to annoy the neighbours, I had to keep the volume fairly low and used an old Rat pedal for extra distortion, which seemed to get a suitably filthy tone.