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Guitar Lesson • Pipeline • The Chantays • Arranged For Two Guitars • Chords, Melody, Theory, Videos

Updated on February 16, 2015

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Review by Karen: Starts at the beginning and breaks the blues down in a well articulated way. It exponentially grows from there.
Review by Karen: Starts at the beginning and breaks the blues down in a well articulated way. It exponentially grows from there.

"Pipeline" - This is the greatest surf instrumental of all time, in my humble opinion. No surf music collection is complete without this song.



Pipeline is a very popular 'surf song' from 1962, originally done by The Chantays, and later covered by many artists, including Johnny Thunders, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Dick Dale, The Eagles, and The Ventures. The working name for the song was Liberty's Whip, before being changed to Pipeline. The song was used as the entrance theme for the Edmonton Oiler's hockey team during the 1980s and 90's, 'pipeline' acting as a pun for the oil industry. The tune made it number four on the billboard charts.

Melody • Guitar One

The melody is based in the key of G Major-Em, same as the chord progression. Since the melody and the chord progression have more of a minor sound, the scale would be E natural minor the most part. The modal name for this scale is E Aeolian. Each note of the major scale generates a new scale, with a different intervallic structure. There are modal names for each scale. Aeolian is the sixth mode of the major scale and, in this case, is simply E to E an octave higher in the G Major scale.

Scale spelling is:

E, F♯, G, A, B, C, D, E.

It is STILL the major scale, but because of the way the notes are arranged, it has a totally different (sad) sound. Think of each mode as an entirely different scale, separate from the Major scale, to really appreciate the change in the sound.

The inclusion of D♯ in the second part of the verse, takes the E natural minor (Aeolian) into the Harmonic minor scale.

Scale spelling is:

E, F♯, G, A, B, C, D♯, E (the only difference being, the D♯ replacing the D natural).

This one note change in the scale adds an entirely different sound to it. Very exotic sounding. The Harmonic minor scale fits well over the chord (B), because the third interval of B Major is D♯.

Once again, some of the melody (especially the bridge), may not be exactly the same as the original recording, but it works well and sounds great!

Rhythm • Guitar Two

The overall chord progression is in the key of G Major-E minor. These keys are 'relative' to each other. That is, they share the same key signature, in this case, one sharp: F.

The intervals (notes) for G Major-E minor are:

G, A, B, C, D, E, F♯, G.

Harmonization of these notes into triads results in the chords:

G Major, A minor, B minor, C Major, D Major, E minor, F♯ diminished, and back to G Major.

Some of the chords have been broken into very cool sounding 'riffs' (a short group of repeating notes), played on the bass strings of the guitar, usually with heavy 'palm muting' (a technique, where the palm of the pick hand is placed across the strings to dampen the sound, rather than letting the strings ring together). The E minor and A minor chords are played in this manner, as well as the 'power chords' in the bridge section (although this part sounds better without palm muting).

The notes outlining the E minor chord, form the minor triad:

E, G, B (the first, minor third, and fifth).

The same with A minor:

A, C, E (these notes being the first, minor third, and fifth of the A minor chord).

Since the tempo is fast, these passages are easier to execute with strict alternate picking (downstroke, followed by an upstroke).

I have written out the entire arrangement. Follow the repeat markings, or refer to the video for the arrangement. Most recordings have a different placement for the verses and bridge. Also, I may have taken some liberties with the chord progression in the bridge, but this is the way I have always played it, and it sounds great!

Pipeline Guitar One

Pipeline • Guitar Two with Guitar One

Play Along Track

There is a two bar drum intro, then four more bars before the melody guitar enters.

Play Along Backing Track


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      4 years ago

      Just to let you know, lyrics don't mean anitnyhg to a musician. So by asking someone to write the guitar to lyrics, you are pretty much asking them to write the entire song for you. Lyrics don't indicate rhythm, the key, or anitnyhg actually related to musical notation. So without offering a melody, you won't get much help. Sorry, but it's the truth.


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