Artist Spotlight: Omar Rodríguez-López

Difficulty: Medium | Guitar used: Fender Telecaster | Tuning: Standard

Originally a bassist, he switched to guitar during his early years with At the Drive-In. After 3 albums he and lead singer Cedric Bixler-Zavala left and would go on to form The Mars Volta. The debut album De-loused in the Comatorium showed his unique song writing talent with a mixture of Latin, Jazz and progressive rock.

He blends rock, punk and jazz with an array of effects and frenetic technigue to create a real signature sound. In an interview he suggested that his general dislike of the guitar formed the basis for his unorthodox technique!

These examples show a range of Omar’s guitar playing styles and if you are unfamiliar with his music then hopefully you’ll take a closer look.

Example#1: Eriatarka- chorus

|------------------------------------------------------------|
|------------------------------------------------------------|
|------------------------------------------------------------|
|-111111------9-9-9-------7-7-7-------0-0-0---x--x-x---------| x3
|-x-x-x-------x-x-x-------x-x-x-------x-x-x---x--x-x---------|
|-7-7-7-------7-7-7-------7-7-7-------7-7-7---x--x-x--9b10r9-|

|------------------------------------------------------------|
|------------------------------------------------------------|
|------------------------------------------------------------|
|-7-7-7-7-7-7-7-7-7-7-7-7-7-------10101010101010101010101010-|
|-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-------x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x--|
|-8-8-8-8-8-8-8-8-8-8-8-8-8-------11111111111111111111111111-|

If you don’t have the CD then Listen to the track here with the example above starting at 1:24 to get an idea of how it sounds with bass and drums. I love the way the drum ‘n’ bass beat works with the staccato guitar.

Example#2: One Armed Scissor- chorus

  Em7              Dadd11
|-----------------|------------0------|
|-8-8-8-8-8--0----|-3-3-3-3-3--3------|
|-7-7-7-7-7--7----|-0-0-0-0-0--0-x-x--|
|-x-x-x-x-x--0----|-4-4-4-4-4----x-x--|
|-7-7-7-7-7--7----|-5-5-5-5-5----x-x--|
|-----------------|-------------------|

  Amadd9                   C5
|--------------------------|-------------------------|
|-----12-12-12-12-12-0-x---|-------------------------|
|------x--x--x--x-x--0-x---|-------------------------|
|-10--10-10-10-10-10-------|-------------------------|
|-12--12-12-12-12-12-------|--x--/10--10-10-10-10-10-|
|--------------------------|--x--/8---8--8--8--8--8--|

This is the song that first got me into Omar’s playing. This is from the classic at the drive-in record, relationship of command. The transition between the D and Am is a bit tricky but remember it’s supposed to sound a bit messy- hitting the odd open string or muting others is good in this case!

Example#3: Inertiatic ESP- bridge

|----------------------|---------------------|
|---------------------|----------------------|
|----------------------|---------------------|
|----------------------|---------------------|
|-0h2-0h2-2-2-2-2-2-2-|-0h2-0h2-2-2-0h2-0h2--|
|----------------------|---------------------|

|---------------------|-----------------------|
|---------------------|-----------------------|
|-2h4-2h4-4-4-4-4-4-4-|-2h4-2h4-4-4-4-4-4-4---|
|---------------------|-----------------------|
|---------------------|-----------------------|
|---------------------|-----------------------|

|---------------------|---------------------|
|---------------------|---------------------|
|-6h7-6h7-7-7-7-7-7-7-|-6h7-6h7-7-7-7-7-7-7-|
|---------------------|---------------------|
|---------------------|---------------------|
|---------------------|---------------------|

|---------------------|---------------------|
|---------------------|---------------------|
|---------------------|---------------------|X2
|-2h4-2h4-4-4-4-4-4-4-|-2h4-2h4-4-4-2h4-2h4-|
|---------------------|---------------------|
|---------------------|---------------------|

|-----------|-----------|-5----5----|
|-3----3----|-----------|-0----0----|
|-4----4----|-3----3----|-4----4----|
|-x----x----|-x----x----|-----------|
|-2----2----|-2----2----|-----------|
|-----------|-----------|-----------|

Again, if you haven’t heard this track check out the official video here. The example above is the bridge part at 3:14. It features some fast single string picking with hammer-ons occurring off the beat creating a sense of tension leading into the break down part at the end.

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One Response to Artist Spotlight: Omar Rodríguez-López

  1. Pingback: A selection of Riffs from Rock Band 3 « Nearlyarockstar

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