For our Tom Petty style guitar lesson Tech Session, I have borrowed both rhythm & melodic lead guitar ideas from such tracks as “Mary Jane’s Last Dance,” “Into the Great Wide Open,” “Free Fallin'” and “Running Down a Dream.” Although this feature is meant as a tribute to Tom Petty, as well as looking at his rhythm guitar style & chords, we shall be looking at the lead guitar playing style of guitarist Mike Campbell.
Feature our intro, which I have performed of a 12-string guitar. The intro features a riff based on the A minor and Asus2 and is similar in feel and style to the intro of “Mary Jane’s Last Dance.” This intro will, of course, work fine on either 6 or 12 string guitars.
Introduce our verse progression, which is based loosely on “Into The Great Wide Open.” The verse progression kicks off with the 12 string playing lightly strummed chords that features some interesting harmony. The chord progression is based on the key of E natural minor, although E Harmonic minor is implied with the inclusion of the D# diminished 7th chord. Bar 12 features a rhythmic figure that concludes the first half of the verse and is featured throughout this short piece.
Is the second half of our verse riff, and although the progression is the same as our previous section, on the repeat, we perform it with chord arpeggios. As before this is performed on a 12 string, and has a fantastic sound and a real Tom Petty vibe to it, but this will translate equally well on a 6 string guitar. Bars 20-21 include our rhythmic figure that we saw in our previous section. This time the figure has been extended to a two-bar figure concluding on the chord of C major that leads us to our chorus.
Feature our chorus progression and is based on a I, IV, V, I, Vi, V progression. The chords in this progression are performed with chord arpeggios, with each chord including the open 3rd string as a common/shared chord tone.
Conclude our chorus and reference the rhythm of the final bars of our verse, but are based around the chords of Dsus4, D major and A/D.
Features our first solo, which is performed over the Beatlesque verse progression. For this solo, I swapped over to a 6 string guitar in the video and played the solo with a slide. This solo is pretty straightforward and is based around the E minor pentatonic scale, although we outline E Harmonic minor over the D# diminished 7th chord. Be sure to pay attention to your pitching when using the slide, positioning the slide over the frets themselves.
Introduce a new section for our solo based on “Running Down a Dream.” You’ll notice our tempo has double for fast up-tempo feel. The solo references some classic Mike Campbell moments, with the opening figures based on a melodic phrase similar to “American Girl.” This section concludes with some bluesy bends based around A minor pentatonic.
Include a fast ascending hybrid picking lick similar to the fast lick heard in “American Girl.” I would suggest playing this lick at a slower tempo and gradually building up the speed.
Conclude our solo and feature another classic Campbell blues lick, that embrace his Jimmy Page influence. This lick is based on A minor pentatonic and features a 16th note rhythm. This section concludes with some aggressive vibrato concluding to our final bend.
Equipment wise Tom Petty and Mike Campbell use a wide variety of guitars, but notably Rickenbacker 6 and 12 strings, Fender Tele’s, Gretsch, and Gibson, Flying V, SG and Les Paul’s. Both Tom and Mike used a variety of Fender guitar amps, For our session, I used my Mesa Mini Rec head into a Two Notes Studio using a Fender IR’s. Guitar wise I changed guitars during the video shoot; using a very rare Rickenbacker Tom Petty signature 12 string, and swapping over to my original 1960 Fender telecaster for the solos. Tonally the verses the amp was slightly pushed. I used a mild overdrive for the solo section, adding some overdrive from a Wampler Plexi drive.