Learn to play electric guitar like Newton Falkner– lessons in the techniques that made I need something such a classic – with tab and chords
Newton Faulkner is not the first to make prominent use of the percussive possibilities of the acoustic guitar, but with high-profile festival appearances and a number one UK album he has brought them to a whole new audience. ‘They’re used to strummers,’ he points out, ‘and yet I always feel I’m at a slight disadvantage as a player, because I have to write songs and do a lot of other things, rather than just focus on the pure playing. Also I’m singing at the same time, and that takes up a massive chunk of brain space.’
After early dabblings on the drums and piano, Faulkner took up the guitar aged 13; ‘When I got into guitars nothing else mattered, and still doesn’t, really.’ In 2001 he embarked on a two-year course at the Guildford Academy of Contemporary Music, studying under, amongst others, the late Eric Roche.
Many of Faulkner’s chord voicings and the timbre of his guitar are heavily influenced by the particular tuning used: his debut album contains eight different ones, with further variations created by tuning down by a semitone or a tone or by using a capo (though he mostly uses a capo in standard tuning).
The only song in standard tuning at concert pitch with no capo is the light-hearted She’s Got The Time. In standard tuning, Faulkner tends to favour using a capo high up at either seventh or eighth fret. For example, Aging Superhero is in standard tuning, concert pitch, with capo at eighth fret; Dream Catch Me is in standard tuning, concert pitch, with capo at seventh fret.
Besides standard tuning, the most commonly used tuning on Hand Built By Robots is D G D G A D – this is used a semitone lower than concert pitch and with a capo at the second fret for Intro and To The Light, and tuned down a semitone but with no capo for Teardrop (a cover of the Massive Attack song). I Need Something uses an E A E A B E tuning, tuned a semitone lower than concert and without a capo (these intervals are the same as D G D G A D). Tuning lower than concert pitch makes the strings slightly looser which, in turn, makes them more easy to manipulate with fretting hand slurs and plectrum hand taps.