Lesson Plan

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Lesson notes

Pipeline is an iconic surf tune written in 1962 by a couple teenagers, Brian Carman and Bob Spickard, high school buddies in Southern California who joined the surf movement as The Chantays. The song has been covered by a very diverse group that includes The Ventures, Dick Dale, Anthrax, Agent Orange, and Stevie Ray Vaughan.

I have performed a solo guitar version at concerts over the years but never quite arranged it formally, until now. There were some modifications that had to be done and a lot of artistic decisions to make, some of which are addressed in the ‘Goals & Obstacles’ segment. The biggest goal was to combine the bass line with the opening lead guitar lines, the Em and Am phrases. This will prove challenging to most students but is possible if you work on it very slowly until it is clean. The opening glissando, the tremolo, descending slide will also take some concentrated effort to work in smoothly.

Don’t let the level of difficulty discourage you from tackling this tune, you will get a lot of enjoyment out of just working through some of the phrases and sections.

Part 5 of the Pipeline lesson covers the last measures of the A Section where you are just holding a few chords, B7, C7 and Am, playing a repetitive picking pattern. The pattern can be easily played as written in the tab, or be embellished with a back roll, spreading out the 3 strings rather than playing them together. Of course this makes it much more difficult and I recommend working on most other parts first.

This segment starts with a couple other fingering options for the Am Phrase.

Part 6 looks at the B Section where the bass pattern is a simpler 2-note alternating one using just the root and fifth of the chords. Once again, there are some tricky fingerings for both hands, be sure to take this slowly at first.

The last parts include The Arrangement and a Play Through.