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In the Style of Pete Townsend

  • 11/24/2016
  • JamPlay, LLC

Famed for his rebellious behaviour on stage which included the destruction of amps and obliteration of drum kits, as well as the legendary Windmill technique, Pete Townsend remains one of the most distinctive voices on the guitar in contemporary music today. In the examples covered in this article, we see the use of power chords, string damping, bending, position changes and fingerpicking techniques all encompassed into one solid and unique style. Any serious guitarist should be striving to develop their own voice on the guitar and any techniques that one learns must always be used to musical effect. Always think of the notes and see a technique as merely a way of executing a musical idea, otherwise we will end up sounding a lot like an exercise and not music! Make sure you break down the ideas that I have given here and adapt them to make your own, experimenting with them to write your own licks and songs.

Lick Breakdown

Lick 1

This example sees the use of power chords to create a strong rhythmic based riff. Notice the use of damping from the right hand in order to cut the power chord short at the end of bar 1. Also we see the use of a pull off in bar 3 that gives us a smooth transition between chords.

Pete Townsend Guitar Licks
Download tablature in PDF format.

Lick 2

In Example 2 we use our thumb to play the bass and remaining fingers on the treble strings to create a fingerstyle song introduction. An alternative choice would be to use the pick to play the lowest 4th string note and the remaining fingers to play the upper strings, this is called “Hybrid Picking,” be sure to keep the 4th string rhythm accurate and consistent.

Pete Townsend Guitar Licks
Download tablature in PDF format.

Lick 3

The final lick is an example of Townsend’s use of pentatonics in order to create this blues/rock sound. The trickiest part here is the second half of bar 2, where we see a swift position change. Ensure that you use a fingering that enables you to shift quickly, visualization and preparation are essential here in order to execute it well.

Pete Townsend Guitar Licks
Download tablature in PDF format.