In this lesson we're going to be learning how to play one of the most famous guitar instrumentals ever recorded - Classical Gas by Mason Williams. Released in 1968, this 3 minute action-packed song holds nothing back, you barely have a second to breathe when playing it.
Classical Gas has been covered by some of the greatest musicians on earth. Artists such as Tommy Emmanuel, Steve Howe, Eric Clapton and many others have had a stab it, continuing to keep the song popular amongst blossoming fingerpickers.
OK, let's start learning Classical Gas!
- Key - A minor
- Tuning - standard
- Tempo - as fast as you like (originally recorded at about 160 bpm)
- Difficulty - advanced
Classical Gas (Performance)
As you learn to play this fingerstyle arrangement of Classical Gas, be sure to frequently return to the performance as a good reference point and guide.
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The Intro to Classical Gas
The intro to Classical Gas is played freely with no set pulse. It's probably the easiest part of the song but regardless of that make sure you really work on your feel as you play through it.
Don't be tempted to move onto the next section until you've really got the intro together.
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How to Play the Verse
This is where all the craziness begins and the tempo picks up. Not necessarily super hard to play, but a lot to remember and playing it at full speed is likely going to be the most challenging aspect.
Want to learn more fingerpicking songs around the same level of difficulty?
How to Play the Chorus
I'd say the chorus of Classical Gas is probably a little more complicated and demanding than the verse. Rhythmically it's hard and you'll need a lot of left hand strength to get each of the notes to ring out.
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The bridge of Classical Gas is really great fun to play. Again, rhythmically it's tricky, so you absolutely must be practising with a metronome.
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Much of the ending has been covered earlier in the song, so hopefully adding this section in isn't too much of a struggle for you.
Want to learn more fingerpicking songs?: Big Love (Fleetwood Mac), Can't Help Falling In Love (Elvis Presley), Take Me Home, Country Roads (John Denver), Don't Look Back In Anger (Oasis), Ticket to Ride (The Beatles), Have You Ever Seen The Rain (Creedence Clearwater Revival).
Alternatively you can browse the whole song catalogue: Song Lesson Library
Let me know what you thought of the lesson in the comments section below. Say what you found hard/easy, what level you're at and what your fingerpicking goals are.