Bob McAlpine is a professional guitarist and teacher in Toronto who plays in a Steely Dan tribute band, as well as a Chicago tribute band. He has put together quite a few lessons for TG that are solo arrangements of classic rock songs. These are all very accessible to intermediate fingerstyle students.
Lesson 1: Living For The City - Solo Guitar Arrangement by Bob McAlpine
Living For the City is a Stevie Wonder song from his 1973 Innervisions album. He played all the instruments and sang all the vocals on the track, as well as being the songwriter and producer. This fingerstyle solo guitar arrangement combines melody, chords and bass line, and captures the soulful R&B groove of the original recording. It also covers the instrumental bridge section, complete with time signature changes and some unique, dense chord voicings. The lesson is presented with the use of a thumb pick and palm muting on the bass notes as a suggested (but not required) method of performance.
Lesson 2: U2 - With Or Without You - Solo Guitar Arrangement
With Or Without You is a song by U2 from their 1987 album The Joshua Tree. It is based on a repeated four bar chord pattern (I – V – VI – IV).
This fingerstyle solo guitar arrangement covers the playing of the vocal melody, the driving 8th note bass line, and the most prominent guitar parts. It takes the song up a whole tone from the original recording - moving it from the key of D to the key of E.
This new key allows for the use of more open strings, and allows the open B string to ring out through most of the performance, creating a jangly effect that is reminiscent of the classic U2 sound.
Lesson 3: Closer To The Heart - Solo Guitar Arrangement
This lesson presents a solo guitar arrangement (melody, chords and bass parts) of the Rush song Closer To the Heart.
It utilizes a fingerstyle approach, and features the classic guitar intro, the vocal melody, the “chimes” interlude, and an adapted version of the guitar solo.
Note: For a lesson on the original acoustic guitar parts for this song, see Bob’s other lesson entitled "Closer To the Heart – How To Play On Acoustic Guitar”.
Lesson 4: In The Air Tonight - Phil Collins - Solo Arrangement
In The Air Tonight was the lead single released from the 1981 Phil Collins solo debut album Face Value. It was one of Collins’ biggest hits, and has often been referred to as his signature song.
This fingerstyle solo guitar arrangement presents the chords and melody in a style that creates an ominous atmosphere reminiscent of the original recording.
It focuses on the sections that lead up to the famous drum break, using drop D tuning and different octave registers to create fullness and motion while remaining at an accessible skill level.
Lesson 5: Do It Again - Steely Dan - Solo Arrangement
Do It Again is a song by Steely Dan from their 1972 album Can’t Buy a Thrill. It was written by Walter Becker and Donald Fagen, and reached as high as number 6 on the Billboard Top 100 charts.
This lesson features Bob McAlpine's fingerstyle solo guitar arrangement of the song as he recorded and released it in 2009, but with a shorter, simplified intro.
The arrangement is in the original key of G minor and the lesson is presented with capo 3, but an extra chart is included in E minor so that the song may also be played without a capo.
Lesson 6: Under The Bridge - Solo Arrangement by Bob McAlpine
“Under the Bridge” is a 1992 song from the fifth album by Red Hot Chili Peppers. While the song features dark lyrics that deal with subjects like drug addiction, many of the lush guitar chords provide a brighter, happier tone.
In this lesson, a solo guitar arrangement that covers both the melody and chords is presented in a way that will be accessible to players of different levels. It is played with a pick, and uses techniques like arpeggios, double stops and full strumming to create different textures as the song moves from section to section. The bridge and ending sections feature some huge sounding open string voicings that are both easy and fun to play.