Psychedelic Rock for Guitar Heads – The Ultimate Guide

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


Psychedelic rock guitar heads rejoice! This is the ultimate guide to playing psychedelic rock on guitar. From Hendrix to Pink Floyd, we’ve got you covered.

Psychedelic Rock Origins

Psychedelic rock, also referred to as “psychedelia”, is a style of rock music that emerged in the 1960s. This type of rock music is characterized by distorted and often feedback-laden guitars, mind-bendingly trippy lyricism, and an overall mind-altering sound. The genre is often associated with the use of psychedelic drugs, particularly LSD, and is often credited as being a major influence on subsequent genres such as acid rock, space rock, and stoner rock.

Where did it come from?

Psychedelic rock is a style of rock music that emerged in the mid-1960s and became prominent in the counterculture of the era. The style is marked by a preoccupation with sonic experimentation, extended improvisation, and the use of feedback and other electronic effects.

Psychedelic rock emerged during a period of social upheaval and experimentation in the mid-1960s. The style is often seen as an amalgamation of various musical traditions, including blues, folk, jazz, R&B, and country. Psychedelic rock distinguished itself from other genres by its use of extended guitar solos, unusual sound effects, feedback, and altered states of consciousness.

Psychedelic rock was a protopunk genre; its developers were deliberately opposed to mainstream conventions. Psychedelic rock bands sought to expand the boundaries of traditional rock music by incorporating elements from other genres, including folk music, jazz, and world music. They also sought to incorporate non-rock elements such as electronics and psychedelia into their music.

The earliest psychedelic bands were influenced by the British Invasion band The Beatles and their use of feedback and distorted guitars on their 1966 album Revolver. American bands such as The Byrds also incorporated elements of psychedelic rock into their music. These bands played a significant role in introducing psychedelic rock to American audiences.

The first wave of psychedelic bands began to dissipate by the end of the 1960s; however, the genre continued to develop in the 1970s with the help of new technology. The second wave of psychedelic bands incorporated elements from funk, disco, and reggae into their music. This new wave played a significant role in popularizing psychedelia among young people in the 1970s.

Who were the pioneers?

Psychedelic rock, also referred to as acid rock, took the music scene by storm in the 1960s and ‘70s. The style is characterized by extended guitar solos, heavy use of distortion and feedback, and lyrics that often reflected the drug culture at the time. Psychedelic rock is a subgenre of rock music that originated in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

The first wave of psychedelic rock bands were led by The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and The Byrds. These groups took elements of folk, blues, and country music, and combined them with new studio techniques to create a unique sound. The Beatles’ album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is often cited as the first psychedelic rock album, and it includes classic tracks like “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” and “A Day in the Life.”

The Rolling Stones followed closely behind with their album Their Satanic Majesties Request, which featured songs like “She’s a Rainbow” and “2000 Light Years from Home.” The Byrds also released a number of influential psychedelic rock albums, including Fifth Dimension (1966) and Younger Than Yesterday (1967). Other important early psychedelic rock bands include Cream, Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead, Santana, Jimi Hendrix Experience, Steppenwolf, Vanilla Fudge, Moby Grape, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Iron Butterfly, Big Brother and the Holding Company (featuring Janis Joplin), Procol Harum, Love; Country Joe and the Fish; Moby Grape; It’s a Beautiful Day; Spirit; Electromanil Pourchet’s Magma; Ozric Tentacles; Heads Hands & Feet; Rare Bird

Psychedelic rock quickly spread beyond America and Britain to other countries in Europe and Asia. In Japan, bands like Kuroda Ganesh were influenced by Western psychedelic rock groups like Cream and Jimi Hendrix. In Germany, groups like CAN blended psychedelia with avant-garde jazz to create their own unique sound. In Italy, RPI (Rock Progressivo Italiano) became popular in the late 1960s/early 1970s

The Sound of Psychedelic Rock

Psychedelic rock, also referred to as “psychedelia”, is a style of rock music that emerged in the mid-1960s. The sound is characterized by distorted guitars, feedback, and other effects, and is often associated with the use of psychedelic drugs. If you’re a fan of psychedelic rock, or just want to know more about the genre, read on for the ultimate guide.

What makes it sound psychedelic?

Psychedelic rock is a style of rock music that was popular in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It is characterized by distorted guitars, feedback, and extreme levels of reverb and echo. The sound of psychedelic rock was often created with studio effects such as reverse tape loops and controlled feedback.

Psychedelic rock is often said to have been influenced by the use of psychedelic drugs such as LSD, although many of the bands that created the style were not themselves users of psychedelics. The Grateful Dead and Pink Floyd are two of the most well-known psychedelic rock bands.

The use of feedback

An important characteristic of psychedelic rock is the heavy use of feedback. Feedback is created when the amplified sound of an instrument is played back through the same amplifiers and speaker, causing a loop that results in a high-pitched squeal. This sound was first used by The Who in their 1965 song “My Generation.” However, feedback was not limited to guitars; it was also used on keyboards, vocals, and other instruments.

Feedback was not only used to create sonic effects; it was also used as a compositional tool. For example, The Beatles’ song “I Feel Fine” features feedback that is played in a particular way to create the melody of the song. Similarly, Jimi Hendrix’s song “Purple Haze” features feedback that is played in a riff-like manner. Feedback was even used on occasion to create entire songs, such as The Velvet Underground’s “Sister Ray.”

The use of feedback became less common in the 1970s as musicians began to favor other methods of creating sonic effects, such as using effects pedals. However, some psychedelic rock bands continued to use feedback throughout the decade, such as Television and Sonic Youth.

The use of reverb

The use of reverb was one of the defining characteristics of psychedelic music. Reverb is an effect that makes a sound seem to last longer than it actually does. This creates a sense of space and distance, which can be used to create a dream-like or ” trippy ” feeling.

Psychedelic music often made use of feedback, which is when a sound gets stuck in a loop and gradually gets louder and more distorted. This effect was first used by guitarists in the 1960s, and it became an essential part of the psychedelic sound.

Echo is created when a sound is played back after a short delay. This creates a sense of space and can make a sound seem to float in the air. Delay was used extensively by psychedelic bands such as Pink Floyd and The Doors.

Fuzz is an overdriven, distorted sound that was created by accidentally connecting two amplifiers together. This effect was first used by garage rock bands in the 1960s, but it quickly became associated with psychedelic music.

Psychedelic Rock Guitar Styles

Psychedelic rock guitar is all about creating atmosphere and mood. It’s not about showy solos or complex guitar work. Often, the best psychedelic rock is made with simple chords and basic melodies. This genre of music is all about setting a mood and creating a soundscape.

The use of effects

While the electric guitar was the primary instrument used in psychedelic rock, a wide variety of other instruments were also used to create the unique sound of this genre. Keyboards, horns, and strings were all popular choices, and many psychedelic bands made liberal use of effects pedals to create new and exciting sounds.

Reverb and delay were commonly used to create a sense of space and atmosphere, while fuzz and wah-wah pedals were used to create textural variations. Flangers, phasers, and tremolos were also popular choices, giving psychedelic rock its distinctive “swirling” sound.

The use of extended chords

Psychedelic rock often made use of extended chords, which are chords that contain notes beyond the 7th. These chords were frequently used to create a sense of space and atmosphere. Many of these extended chords would not be considered “proper” by classical standards, but they were very effective in creating the desired sound.

Some examples of extended chords that were commonly used in psychedelic rock are:
-9th chords: A 9th chord is simply a 7th chord with an added 9th. For example, a C9 chord would be comprised of the notes C, E, G, Bb, and D.
-11th chords: An 11th chord is simply a 9th chord with an added 11th. For example, a C11 chord would be comprised of the notes C, E, G, Bb, D, and F.
-13th chords: A 13th chord is simply an 11th chord with an added 13th. For example, a C13 chord would be comprised of the notes C, E, G, Bb, D, F, and A.

The use of improvisation

Psychedelic rock relies heavily on the use of improvisation. This is evident in the playing of both guitarists and bassists. Guitarists will often make use of feedback, delay and other effects to create mind-bending sounds. Bassists usually stick to a more traditional role, providing a solid foundation for the rest of the band. However, they will also often improvise their parts, using distortion and other effects to create a more psychedelic sound.

Psychedelic Rock in the 21st Century

Psychedelic rock first came to prominence in the mid to late 1960s, but the style has seen something of a resurgence in recent years. With its swirling guitars, mind-bending melodies and acid-trip lyrics, psychedelic rock is the perfect soundtrack to a summer of love – or, alternatively, a long, dark night of the soul. Here, then, is our ultimate guide to the best psychedelic rock bands of the 21st century.

The new wave of psychedelic rock

Psychedelic rock is making a comeback in the 21st century, with a new wave of artists carrying on the legacy of the genre’s pioneers. From classic rock revivalists to modern experimentalists, these guitar heads are keeping psychedelic music alive and expanding its boundaries.

In this ultimate guide, we’ll introduce you to some of the 21st century’s most innovative and exciting psychedelic rock bands. We’ll explore their music, their influences, and what makes them stand out from the pack. So put on your best tie-dye shirt and let’s journey into the weird and wonderful world of 21st century psychedelic rock!

The resurgence in popularity

Psychedelic rock enjoyed something of a resurgence in popularity in the 21st century. While the sound and style of the genre had been kept alive by a number of bands in the intervening years, it was not until the early 2000s that there was a significant revival. This was largely led by a new generation of bands who were influenced by the classic psychedelic rock sound of the 1960s and 1970s.

One of the most successful and important bands in this revival was The Brian Jonestown Massacre. The band, fronted by Anton Newcombe, released a series of highly acclaimed albums which incorporated elements of garage rock, folk, country and psychedelia. They were also one of the first bands to be associated with the neo-psychedelia movement.

Other important bands in the revival include The Black Angels, Dead Meadow, Psychedelic Porn Crumpets and Radio Moscow. These bands have continued to keep psychedelic rock alive and relevant in the 21st century.

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