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 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 Marley 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
For acoustic he would generally go
with the Ovation Adamas, which he played on Redemption 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 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
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
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
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
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 onbob Marley guitar lesson.