Ongoing History Daily: Sonic Youth’s guitar sounds

Few bands managed to get as many sounds out of a guitar as Sonic Youth. What was their secret? In the beginning, it was cheap guitars. Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo just kept buying cheap guitars that would constantly keep going out of tune. So rather than fight it, they would often play the guitars as they were, in tune or not.

After a while (when they learned to play a little better), they began to experiment with strange tunings. For example, they’d write a song with the bottom three strings all tuned to F# an octave apart, which obviously resulted in some strange chords. And finally, they’d play their guitars in interesting ways. Thurston has been known to play his instrument with a screwdriver jammed between the strings and the fretboard.

They don’t teach this kind of stuff in music school, do they?

Did you know that they tried to kill vinyl in the late 50s? Read the story here.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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