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SurfGuitar101 Forums » Best-Of SG101 »

Permalink Why you like surf music

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DeathTide wrote:

The classic clean surf tone. Can’t be beat, except sometimes it’s matched by the spaghetti western tone...

That clean sound is big. I'm a fan of the clean guitar sound and have been for a long time. As I alluded to in an earlier post to this thread, when distortion began to dominate Pop and Rock, I lost interest. To this day, I can't get into heavy distortion. A little natural overdrive makes sense to me, but not the heavy, artificial "fuzzed out" sound that became all but ubiquitous.

Music that all but flaunts its clean tones really appeals to my tastes. It is also a genre that rewards clean playing and good technique. Playing Surf is great practice.

The artist formerly known as: Synchro

When Surf Guitar is outlawed only outlaws will play Surf Guitar.
My Guitar WebSite
Dead Thread

There is an awful lot of grit in the guitar tones of 1st wave surf music. I'm not sure where this "classic clean surf tone" thing came from...

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Brian wrote:

There is an awful lot of grit in the guitar tones of 1st wave surf music. I'm not sure where this "classic clean surf tone" thing came from.

Exhibit A: Randy Holden, precursor to violence!

The Kahuna Kings

https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Kahuna-Kings/459752090818447

https://thekahunakings.bandcamp.com/releases

These doesn't sound very clean to me.

Ivan
The Madeira Official Website
The Madeira on Facebook
The Blair-Pongracic Band on Facebook
The Space Cossacks on Facebook
The Madeira Channel on YouTube

Perhaps I should have said:

That classic “clean” surf tone instead? Or maybe just:

The Surf Guitar Tone.

Those guitars are clean to me, compared to punk rock or garage. Bombora is one of the greatest “clean” tones I’ve ever heard.

I think that we may be defining the term clean differently.

All amplified guitar sounds are distorted. An amp always changes the signal a bit and that can rightfully be called distortion. But there’s distortion, and then again, there’s distortion. Using Ivan’s samples, yes there is a degree of distortion, especially starting from Death of a Gremmie on down, but even in that song, the notes retained their definition.

I’ve never cared for the sort of distortion Jimi Hendrix was famed for. Distorted guitar sounds have been around for a long time, but starting, perhaps, with The Stones “Satisfaction”, it began to be cultivated and has grown into a science of its own. I’ve often quipped that guitarists have more names for distortion than the Inuit have for snow.

At least for my purposes, it is a matter of definition. I enjoy hearing the attack and decay of each note. One thing I like about Surf guitar is that most practitioners have good technique and it really adds to the effect. While some Surf employs a degree of distortion, the Surf I enjoy tends to retain note definition.

Having lived through the sixties (I started playing in 1966), I heard music go from the clean sounds of Duane Eddy and The Ventures, on through the era of Hendrix and the endless succession of people that based their concept of sound on Hendrix. If you read Guitar Player magazine during the seventies, there was an amazing amount of column inches devoted to the subject of distortion. It was virtually the default sound of Rock for many years.

One other aspect was how distortion was achieved. Some of the distortion pedals sounded very canned, very artificial. An amp pushed into natural overdrive sounds completely different from a pedal, at least to my ears. I find that a lot more appealing to the ears.

I always have preferred the cleaner end of the spectrum. When Queen did Crazy Little Thing Called Love, it was a breath of fresh air. The sound was a bit more focused, perhaps, than the Classic Rockabilly sound, but it was a lot cleaner than most of what hit the airwaves in the late ‘70s.

Anyhow, my point is that there are degrees. I’ll gladly concede that not all Surf is crystal clear; long before this thread I’d be quick to agree that the Classic Brownface sound was not the same as the piercing cleans of a Blackface amp, yet it’s foundational to Surf. But that’s a far cry from Hendrix playing a Strat, through a Fuzzface and into a cranked Marshall.

The artist formerly known as: Synchro

When Surf Guitar is outlawed only outlaws will play Surf Guitar.
My Guitar WebSite
Dead Thread

Wow! What a 'great' question! It really caused me to pause and think it through a bit. But for me personally, I think there's about three key reasons that I love surf music.

First and foremost, whether music is purely instrumental or has lyrics, it should 'transport' you somewhere, in mind and spirit, to another place and time. As a 60+ year old, I grew-up roaming the beaches in southern California, immersed in the early surf classics, so surf music does that for me in spades! It transports me and takes me back, instantly, and vividly.

Secondly, as I've aged through the years, I've grown increasingly weary of singing, talking and songs with lyrics. Blah, blah, blah! My dad used to say . . . "words are like precious coins, meant to be used sparingly." They're like opinions; everyone, regardless of their age or experience, has some that they're eager to share, but in music, they just detract from the pure 'emoting' and natural sonic beauty that the instruments themselves are quite capable of.

And lastly, it's the sheer 'unique-ness' of surf music that makes it stand apart from ALL other genres. No matter where you are at the time or what your tastes in music may be, or even what channel you may be listening to, the second you hear that splash, drip and spank, you KNOW its surf, period! And what other genre of music can truly claim that?

"Heavy is good. Heavy is reliable. If it doesn't work, you can always hit them with it." - Boris the Blade

Last edited: Mar 03, 2019 12:44:36

Why do I like surf music?

Well, first of all there's the purely sonic/aesthetic side: I love music from the mid-1950s through to the mid-1960s (vocal and instrumental) that features twangy guitars (clean or dirty sounding) served up with generous dollops of reverb, echo, and sometimes tremolo.

As for surf music in particular, the reason I like it so much is that through trying to learn how to master it myself, I've now become reasonably proficient at playing melodies on the guitar - something I could barely do 18 months ago. Until then, whenever I'd played in any kind of band or on my own, I'd always been either the rhythm guitarist or the rhythm guitarist and singer. Not that there's anything wrong with being a rhythm guitarist or singer - I still do both, outside of the surf/instrumental guitar context - but I find the idea and practice of "singing" a recognisable melody via the guitar to be immensely satisfying.

I've never wanted to be a string-bending, facial-muscle-contorting "lead" guitarist in the classic rock mould, so learning to play melody guitar for surf/Shadows/Ventures-style material really suits me down to the ground. In fact, my favourite rock 'n' roll/rock guitarists are people like Scotty Moore, Buddy Holly, Steve Cropper, Pete Townsend (1964-68) and Paul Weller (when he was with The Jam), all of whom played in a combined lead/rhythm style that was high on melody and creative dynamism and low on fretboard gymnastics and aimless "soloing".

I also like the fact that it's very easy to take pretty much any kind of song or tune and make it surf. Someone recently said on another thread that surf is less a genre and more a way of doing things within a certain set of limitations - I can't remember the thread or the exact words, but that's the gist of it. I would agree with that as a definition of surf and also find it very liberating as an approach to making music.

Through listening to and playing surf and surf-related guitar music, I've become more appreciative both of instrumental music generally and of the instrumental side of music featuring singers. Plus, I'm definitely a better musician all round than I was 18 months ago.

That's it really: listening to surf music is a very fine thing to do, and being (or trying to be!) a surf melody guitarist is a very fine thing to be.

Last edited: Mar 14, 2019 12:39:26

Delrin96mm wrote:

Why do I like surf music?

Well, first of all there's the purely sonic/aesthetic side: I love music from the mid-1950s through to the mid-1960s (vocal and instrumental) that features twangy guitars (clean or dirty sounding) served up with generous dollops of reverb, echo, and sometimes tremolo.

As for surf music in particular, the reason I like it so much is that through trying to learn how to master it myself, I've now become reasonably proficient at playing melodies on the guitar - something I could barely do 18 months ago. Until then, whenever I'd played in any kind of band or on my own, I'd always been either the rhythm guitarist or the rhythm guitarist and singer. Not that there's anything wrong with being a rhythm guitarist or singer - I still do both, outside of the surf/instrumental guitar context - but I find the idea and practice of "singing" a recognisable melody via the guitar to be immensely satisfying.

I've never wanted to be a string-bending, facial-muscle-contorting "lead" guitarist in the classic rock mould, so learning to play melody guitar for surf/Shadows/Ventures-style material really suits me down to the ground. In fact, my favourite rock 'n' roll/rock guitarists are people like Scotty Moore, Buddy Holly, Steve Cropper, Pete Townsend (1964-68) and Paul Weller (when he was with The Jam), all of whom played in a combined lead/rhythm style that was high on melody and creative dynamism and low on fretboard gymnastics and aimless "soloing".

I also like the fact that it's very easy to take pretty much any kind of song or tune and make it surf. Someone recently said on another thread that surf is less a genre and more a way of doing things within a certain set of limitations - I can't remember the thread or the exact words, but that's the gist of it. I would agree with that as a definition of surf and also find it very liberating as an approach to making music.

Through listening to and playing surf and surf-related guitar music, I've become more appreciative both of instrumental music generally and of the instrumental side of music featuring singers. Plus, I'm definitely a better musician all round than I was 18 months ago.

That's it really: listening to surf music is a very fine thing to do, and being (or trying to be!) a surf melody guitarist is a very fine thing to be.

We seem to me on the same page, with regard to much of this. I love the Rokc ‘n’ Roll up into the mid sixties and love the twangy guitar sound of that period. When the heavily overdriven, “facial-muscle-contorting” style became dominant, my interest diminished. When I heard The Sultans of Swing, in 1978, it was like a breath of fresh air, after over a decade of distortion.

Surf gives me an opportunity to play clean, precise melody lines and that makes me feel good about my playing. I heard The Ventures in my early grade school years and have loved them ever since. I love being able to play anything that follows in that tradition. Obviously, beyond The Ventures, there were the Surf hits of the early ‘60s, and these remain a bright spot in the history of electric guitar.

The artist formerly known as: Synchro

When Surf Guitar is outlawed only outlaws will play Surf Guitar.
My Guitar WebSite
Dead Thread

It’s the original heavy metal/ punk/ gangsta rap. It is edgy and sinister yet beautiful and profound all at once. It is a unique sub genre of rock music, similar to reggae or ska in that it is a regional take that became it’s own thing. My main reason, I love the guitars. I am a bass guy, I have been playing bass for over twenty years. Surf is what inspired me to learn guitar. No other genre had that effect on me. I love the tone, the chords, the staccato playing. I am also a Fender fanboy and it is pretty heavily Fender based so there is that too.

Such great reasons given by you folks! Also, I am loving some of these bands I am learning about on here. My favorite band I discovered on here so far is the Nebulas. They definitely have strong surf chops but sound like they would be at home opening for a punk band (I mean that in a good way).

Last edited: Mar 15, 2019 05:40:54

Why do I like surf music ?

It is that 2 to 3 minute burst of energy contained in a song.
It is an auditory shot of espresso.
It is a team of people concentrating ONLY on making music.
It is a global experience, there is surf everywhere.
It's uniqueness. You know it when you hear it.
I love surf for these simple reasons. I am no musician, but I appreciate all those individuals, and their efforts, they put into making surf music.
I give these crazy rambling reasons to people when asked that question,
why surf music ? It doesn't convince them to jump in, but they're aware.
I cherish the opportunity to make those around me aware. My love of surf music has taken me as far as to create a show for a local community radio station. Once a week I have the opportunity to share one hour of surf music with the public. One hour goes by very fast, I just play music and share a minimal amount of information. It is all done with respect and love for surf music.
I guess that kinda sums up the why and where it has led me. I've enjoyed the opportunity to try to put this all into words as well.
Thank you to all that create.

Shameless self promote
Fridays 5pm. KMUZ 88.5/100.7 FM Salem, Oregon. Stream also at KMUZ.ORG

Timeless music and it reminds me of the good old days.

When people want to jump up and dance or tap their foot - Its Surf Music Smile

I like Surf Party or Bikini Drag as far as energy goes playing it or songs like that. To me its a fine line to pull off songs like that, their simple songs but some times hard to remember the progression on the lead back to back. Its a real mental exercise for me to play those two songs one after the other. The only way I can do that is remember Bikini Drag starts off with multiple hits on the A note and Surf Party just two on the G note otherwise It get them mixed up for some reason.

I can't imagine being a instrumental Surf Guitarist in the early 60's and have to play Beatles or later Acid rock to stay alive later, I would have quit I think, its just too much part of my mental state playing wise to convert to other styles or just play rhythm and not much leads etc...I would have quit I think like many did.

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