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Bob Marley Reggae Guitar Secrets


There is probably no better person to learn to play the reggae guitar from than Bob Marley. In this Bob Marley guitar lesson we will look at the guitars, amp, chords and playing technique he used.Bob Marley Reggae Guitar Lesson

Bob Marley Guitars

Bob Marley started out using a fender Stratocaster, which you can hear and see on the song Stir It Up. He then switched to a Gibson Les Paul which he later became known for. Gibson reissued the Bob Marley Les Paul signiture and Epiphone signiture guitars in 2002.

Update: Rosanne a reader of the site emailed this to me the other day.  "Bob MarleyBob Marley Gibson Les Paul guitar is a les paul special that was modified, also the reason it had a big plate at the treble switch was because it was damaged at some point (to cover big hole), also gibson made 200 replicas around 2004, you could buy a tonne of les paul special on ebay but you are not gonna find one with block inlays, I had a 2000 model with mini inlays but no binding, now I own a 1976 special too beautifull to modify." Rosanne a big thank you for that valuable bit of information.

If you want to know more about the Gibson Bob Marley Les Paul and Epiphone guitars then you need to read Gibson Is Jammin' with Limited Edition Bob Marley Les Paul Special

For acoustic he would generally go with the Ovation Adamas, which he played on RedemptBob Marley Adamas Ovationion Song.  Of course there were other guitars but these were the go to ones.  Note too that Bob Marley had his Les Paul Special re-wired, but he did not change the P90 pickups.

Bob Marley Amp

Bob Marley focused mainly on song writing and singing and therefore played anything the sound engineers provided.  Having said that, most of the time he would play through a Fender Silver Face Twin and sometimes a Marshall or an Ampeg amp.

Bob Marley Chords

The chords used in reggae music are generally major and minor chords.  Bob Marley therefore mainly used major and minor chords.  He sometimes used dominant 7th chords.  If you listen to Forever Loving Jah, on the C minor the last chord in the progression, he used a C dominant 7 chord instead.  Also, in Jamming where some reggae guitarist would have used the E minor on the second chord he used an E 9 instead.

Bob Marley Guitar Playing Technique

The technique Bob Marley used for holding his reggae chords generally differs from how bar chords are generally held. If you look at his technique you will notice that he sometimes uses his left hand to wrap the guitar neck and his thumb is used to hold the bass note see video above.

He does not make the chords ring out.  The strings are slightly off the fret board which gives a damp but fatter reggae guitar tone (Most reggae guitarist today uses this technique).  The amp is sometimes slightly over driven, to make the guitar sound bigger and fatter. 

Lastly, Marley used two right hand strumming techniques. First there is the downward strum which is typical for most other reggae guitarist, but he frequently uses a circular technique when he strums.

This gives a slightly different tone because not all the strings are hit with the same force. In some ways it does sound a little more rhythmic. And that’s pretty much it! Have fun! For more on bob Marley guitar lesson. 

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