In this guitar lesson, we will be looking at the Rumble TAB and learning how to play this 1958 classic one step at a time. Rumble is an instrumental track that was described as Bob Dylan as “the best instrumental ever” and it was also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Perhaps most importantly though, it was listed here at Eat Sleep Guitar Repeat on a list entitled 20 of the greatest instrumental guitar songs of all time. Or something like that.
This is one of those songs that everyone knows whether they know it or not. You either know exactly what it is, or you simply remember what it is when you hear it. It’s a track be a pioneering guitarist with a pioneering sound and the good news for you is that it’s nice and easy to learn.
Let’s do it.
Rumble TAB Chords and Guitar Lesson
We’re going to make this nice and simple by breaking the entire song into three sections. The first part which you will see shortly is the most important. It contains all the hooks and memorable aspects of this instrumental track. The second part is the guitar solo section which sits nicely in the middle and the final part is very similar to the first so if you’ve learnt part one, that final section will not be an issue for you at all.
The guitar solo is built around a simple double stop and the other two parts are based around riffs that use some simple open chords as well as a nice and simple little minor pentatonic run. Let’s take a look at part 1 of the Rumble TAB.
Rumble TAB Part 1
The next image that you see shows the Rumble TAB in full from the beginning of the song up to the start of the solo section. Take a look at the TAB. I will provide guidance below the image for those that require it.
So there’s quite a lot to learn the right? Well, not really. There’s a lot of repetition there and the bars aren’t particularly densely populated. You have some work to do in terms of memorising the structure but all in all, it’s an easy piece to play if you understand what the TAB is telling you.
Let’s take that first bar for example. The TAB is telling you to play the A and D strings open, plus the second and third frets on the G and B strings respectively. The eagle eyed amongst you may have noticed something though. Don’t worry if you didn’t spot it. I shall reveal all.
What the TAB is actually suggesting is that you play a simple standard open D major chord with the addition of the open A so like a D major with an A in the bass. The TAB is also telling you not to strum that bottom E string.
You’ll see this instruction a lot through this song so what I like to do is simply finger the full D major chord and avoid strumming that high E string. My fingers already know this chord and so do yours so try playing the whole chord whilst strumming the strings indicated in the TAB. Hope that makes sense.
The rest of the TAB is fairly self-explanatory right up until bar ten. We have full E major chords in there for example in bar two, and also full A major chords like you see in bar six but it’s bar ten where things mix up a little.
The time signature changes at that point from 4/4 to 6/4. It’s only for that one single bar of the riff but it’s important not to miss it or you’ll find yourself out of sync. Basically, you have six beats instead of four beats for that one bar and as you can see, this happens more than once but it always occurs at the same point in the riff.
Just like the TAB for the D major chords, don’t let this part confuse you. The chord that is being played during these bars with the time signature change is an open B dominant 7 chord. You can complete the full chord by adding the note at the second fret on the A string which is a B note. Once again, I finger the entire chord and to be honest, I don’t think it matters whether you avoid the extra note or not. You can throw it in there if you like. It won’t impact the sound.
This B dominant 7 chord is performed slightly differently through the song but the subtle differences really just come down to how it was performed on the day for the recording. Sometimes it the chord was more broken down and arpeggio like and sometimes it was slightly tighter. I’ve given you the TAB for the chord but this is a point in the song where you can move away from the TAB and play the chord broken to whatever extreme you like.
The parts surrounding that need to be played just like the record though because the rhythm is very specific and it’s that rhythm that gives the riffs their identity because they’re hardly unique (now) in terms of notes and chords.
Bars eleven and twenty two show an identical lick that follows a simple minor pentatonic triplet based lick that’s very satisfying to perform and very easy to learn. Technically, these licks are harder than the guitar solo which we’ll look at next.
Before you dive into the solo, take note of the very specific amount of beats at the end there. Make sure you’re staying on that E chord for the right amount of time.
What are the curved lines in the TAB?
Just a quick one for those who aren’t sure about those curved lines in the TAB. This lesson is in the beginner section after all. Those are ties. Without going into music theory, they basically indicate that the chord/note to the left is kind of stretched out. The notes in question ring out right up until the next new notes appear in the TAB. Sometimes, notes don’t end at the end of a bar. They spill over into the next bar. Ties are a visual way of representing this. Ties maybe used within a single bar too for reasons, but just know that a tie means that the note or notes to the left are held and continued until the end of the tie markings. Hope that makes sense.
Rumble Guitar Solo TAB
Wow. That first part had a lot of written guidance didn’t’ it? Well, the guitar solo section won’t and you’ll understand why that’s the case in a moment. Here’s the Rumble guitar solo TAB.
Fairly straight forward right even for the beginners. We simply have a double stop up at the twelfth fret on the B and high E strings which can be performed with your first finger as a min barre.
The only thing you need to keep an eye out for is those little slide ins which you can both see in the TAB, and hear in the recording. Once you learn where the slides are, you’re good to go. You’ll also have to concentrate more that you think. The guitar solo is so repetitive that it becomes easy to lose your place and screw up so just be mindful of that.
Just one part to go.
Rumble Part 3
We’ve reach the third and final part of the Rumble TAB now and the great news is, you don’t have to learn anything new. Here’s the TAB.
You’ve already learned all the elements of this section when you learned part one so all you need to do with this part is learn the structure and the arrangement in other words, you need to simply memorise what happens when.
One thing you may pick up on is that the recording uses a fade out as the outro (I hate fad outs so much).
This means that you’ll have to figure out how you want to end. I encourage you to end with that main hook as I’ve done in the TAB. You can see I’ve written it out twice there but you can play is as many or as few times as you like. I felt playing the riff once left me with an ending that was slightly abrupt and anything more than three felt a little drawn out. Two or three repeats is my recommendation but for me, two is the sweet spot.
There you have it. You know have the full Rumble TAB and all the guidance you could possibly need. Well, almost all. One thing we haven’t touched on is how you can replicate that distinctive sound that you hear in the Link Wray recording. The answer is simple. You would incorporate both distortion and a tremolo pedal. Okay, now you have all the guidance you could possibly need.
Rumble by Link Wray is an iconic track as far as instrumental guitar music goes so I think this is one that all guitarists should learn at some point so well don for seeking this one out. Another one that all guitarists should learn at some point is Wipeout which you can learn via the link below or, it’s more sophisticated cousin which you can also learn via the link below. Learn these three and you’re already building the foundations of a solid instrumental repertoire.
Hello. My name is Ryan J Mellor and I play the guitar. I’m also the creator of Eat Sleep Guitar Repeat. I’ve ben a guitarist for many years and my guitar playing has been described as “above average”. My guitar and music knowledge is somewhat impressive but most importantly, I have a passion for creating great guitar and music related content.