Lick Library - Learn to Play Hank Marvin
I believe that this represents a first for the Music Fix as we step outside the constraints of recorded music and look at some products aimed at dragging you away from your plastic Guitar Hero toys and onto the path of making your own proper racket. What better way to begin than to go back to the roots of British rock n roll music and the owners of the first Fender Stratocaster to arrive in the UK. The Shadows. It’s easy to sneer now but back in the day the Shadows, who notched up 69 UK chart hits, were peerless and the list of musicians they influenced, including such notable luminaries as Neil Young, Jeff Beck and Andy Summers is endless. Bottom line, this is the ideal training ground for anyone with hopes of wielding an axe in anger.
What we’ll be taking a look at here are the two Lick Library Hank Marvin collections which are currently on the market, these being:
Learn to Play Hank Marvin, including comprehensive lessons for performing Apache (of course) as well as Wonderful Land, Man of Mystery, F.B.I. and Guitar Tango. (RRP 23.99)
Learn to Play Hank Marvin: Vol 2, including comprehensive lessons for performing Riders in the Sky, as well as earlier Shadows classics such as Geronimo, Kon-Tiki, Sleepwalk and Foot Tapper. (RRP 24.99)
There’s a brief moment of delicious incongruity as one fires up the first disc of this set; as your ears are assaulted by a barrage of deafening riffs and scorching, squealing, 100mph fret wizardry - up pops the comparatively tame invitation to Learn To Play Hank Marvin. Stow those crunching distortion pedals and digital delays, they’ll not be needed where we are heading…which is back to 1960 and Apache.
There are no lightning fast runs to master, nor complicated, ambidextrous tapping techniques but don’t be fooled into thinking this is easy…wars have been won and lost in less time than it takes most to even come close to mastering that sound. We can all learn the notes and the melodies, but the devil is in the detail with the Shadows’ music, and by following the slow, methodical approach taken by Lick Library’s Lee Hodgson in this tutorial, which breaks each tune into logical constituent parts, you’ll stand a chance of mastering not just notes but also that all important technique.
Now, I’m no stranger to the Shadow’s oeuvre, you may recall my Music Fix coverage of their 50th Anniversary tour with Sir Cliff from last year and, like Neil Young, I perfected my talent for crunching riffs and screaming distortion by learning with Hank. I learned the hard way though, lacking the luxury of such visual aids but fortunately, not knowing Riders in The Sky, I can see how easy it is to learn a new track via the Lick Library method. I’ll be using a simple set-up: A Fender Stratocaster (Sonic Blue – Sorry Hank!) direct into a Boss Re-20 Space Echo and out into a Vox AC30. As Hodgson advises, for Riders… you just need a dash of reverb and a whimsy of analogue delay and you are ready to go.
Crucially, tutor Hodgson is comfortable in front of the camera and he’s someone in whose company you’re happy to spend some serious hours of practice time. There’s something for everyone in his approach too as the tutorial carves the task up into sensible, manageable chunks which are eventually collated into a final piece. Everything is targeted at the absolute beginner and thus the pace is slow and methodical, but there’s no need for the more accomplished and experienced player to hang around; once you’ve grasped something you can skip forward to the next section without becoming bored. Conversely the chapter structure of the disc allows the beginner to easily review and repeat each section with minimal fuss and you can choose to play along with Lee or you can pause and Hank away to your heart’s content until you feel ready to move on. There’s no time limit set on mastering a piece and, while I managed to learn the song structure and melody in a couple of hours, the mastering of the tone and delivery will depend upon your personal tolerance for perfection and desire to achieve “that sound”.
These Lick Library tutorials really are the ideal introduction to playing electric guitar and should be seriously considered, particularly by those aspiring musicians who’ve purchased guitars, jumped in at the deep and tried to learn the works of Metallica in a weekend and then become frustrated. These discs instil the basics and will develop the skills required to head off in more complex and exotic musical directions should you wish to do so. A £25 investment could transform that expensive wall decoration back into a musical instrument and give you the confidence to get out there and performing. To paraphrase a proto-punk rocker: Here’s two discs, now form a band.