Skip to content
Surf Guitar, where ...
Clear all

Surf Guitar, where would one start?

5 Posts
4 Users
Eminent Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 20
Topic starter  

So I think I would really like to learn to play surf guitar style music, but I have no idea how I would go about this.
I've only been playing guitar for a year & a half and am not a lead guitarist by any means but am hoping that maybe by picking up this style it would be the thing to launch me into learning. In addition, I've become interested in the sound and the genre in general.
I guess what I'm asking is what kind of things do I need to learn to play this style as compared to things I've worked on since I started playing like open & bar chords, some basic pentatonic scale patterns, strumming rhythms, finger picking, etc...
If anyone could point me in the right direction of some good starter resources and/or experience, tips, or whatever would keep me busy and headed in the right direction.
I play on a MIM Strat with a Roland Cube 60.

Illustrious Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 5582

Well, you've already got a pretty good guitar and amp to start off. Surf music is usually super clean guitar tone with lots of reverb.

As far as learning Surf music, the first place to start is simply listen to the music. I just went to YouTube and typed in Surf Music and literally dozens of videos popped up. So there is a good place to start. Listen to the greats like D-ick Dale and others.

Surf music is not complicated, pretty much straight chords. You do have to develop a fast picking style. It is often played on one string. So start out playing 16th notes on a single string at maybe 70 BPM and speed up. You want to be precise as possible. Eventually you will want to get up to 160 BPM or even more.

If you know something better than Rock and Roll, I'd like to hear it - Jerry Lee Lewis

Illustrious Member
Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 5840

If you have a look here, I've given a few tabs for Surf music - Pipeline, Walk Don't Run and Wipeout (you'll need to download the free powertab editor ( ).
I'm certain that all of those three are on youtube, from the original artists.

The other tabs are not strictly "Surf" but are instrumentals that may interest you.

I started with nothing - and I've still got most of it left.
Did you know that the word "gullible" is not in any dictionary?
Greybeard's Pages
My Articles & Reviews on GN

Illustrious Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 6348

clean strat with reverb is a must. also palm muting the fat strings for that 'wipe out' run down the fret board.
Los Strait Jackets have a great sound. and look to the old classics for tunes.

I heard on the radio a long time ago a group that did Zeppelin covers using a surf guitar style. they were called 'Surf's Zup'. I cannot find there stuff anywhere.

Eminent Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 20
Topic starter  

Cool guys, thanks for all of the replies!!! I look forward to some more as well. :D

Graybeard, I just had a moment to mess around with the Tab software and the files you have on your page. All I can say is thanks for pointing me there and letting me benefit from your hard work. :wink: