Mötley Crüe Tech Session

TECH SESSION

Having sold over 100 million albums, Mötley Crüe is one of the biggest Los Angeles bands to emerge from the '80s. With their excessive Rock n' Roll lifestyle depicted in a recent movie, Jamie Humphries felt it was about time Guitar Interactive Magazine looked at the riff genius of Mick Mars in this exclusive Tech Session.


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Mötley Crüe Tech Session

Lesson Notes
About The Artist

Bars 1-17 features our main verse riff and includes as fast sixteenth note driven riff that showcases Mick Mars; rapid down stroke technique. This riff features a driving 5th string riff with accented power chords. Try to keep the A string root very tight and palm-muted in contrast to the accented chords. This riff also includes an accented rhythm figure using the G5 power chord, as well as a fast descending A blues scale figure midway through the progression. Try to keep your left hand relaxed throughout.

Bars  18-25 includes our chorus riff and is based around the chords of A5, C5 and D5, with the D5 embellished with a Dsus4 to D major chord. Again this riff includes a tight palm muted driving rhythm, with a recurring pull off figure between the 3rd fret 5th string and the open 5th string. The riff concludes with the F5 chord. Again staying relaxed will help this riff sound tight, so be sure to start at a slower tempo and build up the speed.

Bars 26-29 illustrates a linking riff that completes the first section of the track and is based around the E5 chord. This section is quite tricky as it includes our driving sixteenth note rhythm, as well as some sliding power chords, so once again study this section at a slower tempo and gradually build up the speed.

Bars 30-37 is our middle drop-down section, and features a sparse guitar part using the two-note chords based around G major, D major, A major and Esus4 pulling off to E minor. I would suggest backing down the volume of the guitar and using pick and fingers for this section.

Bars 37-41 introduces a new section and feel to the track, with a familiar-sounding chugging groove based around the E5 chord. Here the rhythm of the chord part is very important, with each riff cycle starting on the push of the end of the previous bar, tying over to the start of the new bar.

Bar 42-45 includes one of Mick's signature licks, where he plays natural harmonics, but adds a rhythmic figure to them by bouncing his hand on the whammy bar in an eighth note rhythm. Having a floating trem will help with the performance of this section.

Bars 46-53 introduce another new riff, based around the E blues scale. This riff features a sixteenth note alternating picking pattern that works in contrast to the driving drum groove. This riff features an accented two-note chord that implies Em7, giving a pseudo Jimi Hendrix sound to the riff.

Bars 53-61 is our guitar solo, and here I have included several classic Mick Mars licks and techniques. We kick off with some blues unison bends based around E minor pentatonic, with the bouncing whammy bar technique. This is followed by a classic Mick Mars three note per string pattern. Mick would pick this, but I've chosen to use a mixture of left-hand legato and picking to keep the lick smooth and clean. This figure concludes with a fast slide on the 6th string executed with tremolo picking. Following a bending figure with pinched harmonics, we have another tremolo picking figure based around an ascending diminished figure, concluding the solo with a descending open string tapping lick.

Bars 62-69 conclude our demo track with the reintroduction of the final riff, concluded with a syncopated E5 chord.

Gear wise, Mick Mars has used a lot of guitars including Kramer, BC Rich, Gibson and Music Man, but is most well known for his beaten up Strats, often with a humbucker in the bridge. Mick has a huge live rig, favouring either Marshall or Soldano amps. For this session I used my Music Man Axis Super Sport into my Boogie JP2-C head. This was run into a Two Notes Torpedo Studio using Celestion IR's. Mick has a very thick and crunchy tone, adding weight to his riffs. He also adds extra gain for the solos, but retains his thick EQ.


Mötley Crüe are up there with the likes of Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin for their rawkus on and off-stage antics, however, aside from the constant partying, alcohol, reported substance abuse, punch-ups, car crashes and near-death experiences—the Crüe has written some of the most memorable songs from the hair band era. Often imitated, Mötley Crüe have had a career that has spanned nearly 40 years, but unlike many bands from that era that are long gone, the Crüe's popularity has continued to grow, and their sound has evolved. 2020 sees them reforming to embark of a huge sell-out stadium tour with Def Leppard and Poison. 2019 saw the release of the Netflix biographic movie "The Dirt", as well as it being the 30th anniversary of the album "Dr Feelgood".

The band was formed in Los Angeles in the early '80s by bassist Nikki Sixx, drummer Tommy Lee, guitarist Mick Mars and singer Vince Neil. They released their debut album "Too Fast For Love" in 1981, although it was re-released the following year when they signed to a major label.. The original material had a faster aggressive sound, with stand out tracks such as "Live Wire".

They found success with their second album "Shout at the Devil", which saw them playing too larger audiences support metal icon Ozzy Osbourne. Standout albums that followed included "Theatre of Pain", Girls, Girls, Girls and "Dr Feelgood"; the band having adopted a more "glam metal" style and sound were a huge success on the radio and MTV. They scored success with songs such as "Home Sweet Home", Girls, Girls Girls", "Kick start My Heart" and Dr Feelgood.

After enjoying huge success for more than a decade Neil quit the band in the early '90s, being replaced by John Corabi for their 94 self-titled release. A shift in style and sound plus the departure of Neil effected recorded and tour sales although, to many, this album was musically superior and should have been released under a new name. Ultimately Neil returned to the band in the late '90s. Although internal tensions saw the band retiring for an extended hiatus. 2020 will see the band touring again!

Much of the bands sound comes from the unsung hero that is Mick Mars. Mars is a powerhouse when it comes to composing great riffs, and has a very tight/focused right hand down stroke technique, which has played a big part in their sound. Other techniques he favours include pinched and natural harmonics; rhythmic whammy bar dips, two handed tapping and fast alternate three note per string picking lines. For our Tech Session track I have used such standout songs as "Live Wire", "Kick Start My Heart" and "Dr Feelgood" for my inspiration, trying to include as many of his typical techniques, approaches and licks.


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