Unchained by Van Halen | rhythm
An electric guitar lesson on how to play the rhythm parts to "Unchained" by Van Halen from their 1981 album "Fair Warning".
My Thoughts On Eddie Van Halen
At the time I'm writing this, it's been less than 2 weeks since Eddie passed away, so I wanted to talk a little bit about him.
I remember the first time I listened to Van Halen’s debut album, I knew that what I was hearing was a paradigm shift in electric guitar playing. In the 102 seconds that it took to play "Eruption", Eddie redefined the electric guitar. It was completely mind blowing.
I've been in awe of his playing ever since.
His vision of the guitar was so quirky and frenetic, and his timing was insanely strange. It was unique to him and trying to emulate his playing, as just about everybody was doing at the time, was just as impossible back then as it is today.
Eddie was in a universe of his own. The speed his mind worked at and the rapid-fire flow of ideas in his playing and his ability to effortlessly execute them was off the charts. Almost like a jazz player, but with rock guitar language. He made it look so easy.
The focus was always on his lead playing, but his rhythm playing was incredible too. I think he was one of the greatest rhythm players of all time.
He had amazing feel no matter what he played. He was also a great songwriter. One of the most creative and skilled musicians I've ever heard.
His impact on the guitar world will go on for generations. I feel blessed to have been around to witness one of the greatest and most influential guitar players of all time.
RIP Eddie Van Halen 1955 - 2020
This is my favorite straight ahead rocker by Van Halen.
The highlight of it for me is Eddie's insanely great rhythm playing. Tuned down a half step, and with the low E string dropped down a whole tone, it's in drop C# which is a huge part of the sound.
The chugging on the main riff, along with the flanger makes for a super powerful sound. His disciplined use of the flanger really increased it's impact and makes the guitar part. It's just pure fun to play and really showcases Eddie's awesome rhythm playing.
The whole trick to playing this one isn't so much the main riff, as that's fairly straight forward, it's the pre-chorus. I remember trying to learn this back in the day. I got down the main riff and was super excited that I was playing Van Halen and it sounded exactly like the record! That was short lived though, because the next section basically sunk my boat. I just couldn't get what he was doing. The timing was so strange, it didn't make any sense to me and I eventually gave up.
I go over that section in depth in the video. Once you "get it" it's nowhere near as hard as you might think. It typifies Eddie's playing though. He had such a strange and quirky sense of time. IMHO, that's why his playing is almost impossible to recreate.
Here's a quote from Eddie. He's talking about his solo on Hot For Teacher, but it applies to his playing in general:
“I winged that one,” Eddie told Guitar World several years ago. “If you listen to it, the timing changes in the middle of nowhere.
"We were in a room playing together and I kind of winked at the guys and said, ‘Okay, we’re changing now!’ Because I don’t count, I just follow my feelings. I tend to do a lot of things in threes and fives, instead of fours.
“My weird sense of time just drives my brother Alex nuts because he’s a drummer, so he has to count. But generally he’ll say, ‘Well, Ed, you did it in five again. If that’s the way you want it…’ But that’s not the way I want it, that’s just what feels right to me.”
Here is the link to the Phil X video I mentioned in my video "Going Down the Rabbit Hole Of Unchained". Phil is awesome and this is a great video. He takes a REALLY deep dive into the gear Eddie used for this track and does his best to recreate it. It's very interesting and entertaining.
I recently bought a Kemper Profiling amp and that's what I used for this video. The profile I used is from a Van Halen pack made by Top Jimi. It's essentially a 1968 Marshall Super Lead. Click the link to read about the details. It's really amazing and sounds awesome. In fact all of Top Jimi's profiles are great. Along with Michael Britt, they're the only profiles I have on my Kemper.
I have no affiliation with Kemper, Top Jimi or Michael Britt, but I would if they asked me! Just because the Kemper and the amp profiles both these guys make are incredible.
Anyways, I had a total blast making this video, especially recording my demo. I hope you enjoy this lesson. Cheers
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