If you have not seen this already, here is Mark’s contribution for the Soundbreaking series on Youtube.
Soundbreaking is a documentary series about the creation of new sounds in the rock music history, based on more than 160 interviews with celebrated recording artists, producers, and music industry pioneers.
Mark is demonstrating various guitar techniques and instruments. I guess you have seen one or the other lick in similar videos with Mark before but it is a great video for sure.
This blog post was written by Jean-François. Thank you J.F. ! 🙂 [some comments by Ingo in brackets]
Mark Knopfler has always been associated with fingerpicking. His totally unique right hand technique has become his landmark since the first Dire Straits album in 1978. However, Mark also sometimes plays with a guitar pick – not only but mostly during his solo career.
Among his childhood guitar heroes, Chet Atkins and Hank Marvin were probably the most important for him. From Chet he learned the fingerpicking style. Hank started the desire to get a red Strat, but also to play the twang style i.e using the tremolo arm at the end of each lick instead of using the left hand vibrato. That’s a style he used to play more and more during late years, trying to reproduce that Hank style, most of the time with his ’54 Fender sunburst Stratocaster aka “the Jurassic strat”.
It’s interesting to notice that there are also songs with that “twang-vibrato” touch but played with fingers : I’m the fool, So far away (except in 2006 and 2008 when he used a pick for this song), and in a certain way why worry or nobody’s got the gun… A liitle bit like Mike Oldfield who played on many songs in a certain Marvin-style with a clean-reverbed tone and the whammy bar, but with fingers instead of pick.
Besides this Hank style, Mark played with a pick on many songs during DS and solo days, mainly in studio, rarely live. It was mostly for strummed acoustic guitars or rhythm parts. Sometimes, he makes a “virtual” pick with his nails. He does this very often when he wants more power, e.g. at the end of Money for nothing (see Live Aid 85 at 6:50) , or even Private investigations on nylon acoustic (see WEMBLEY 85 at 6:26)
He does it also during the firts part of Tunnel of love (and especially during the break) and for the intro on So far away (except in 2006 and 2008 when he used a pick for this song).
I never saw him alternate pick and fingers in the same song, EXCEPT for news/Private Investigations final in 1980-81, he took the pick just for outro (at 4:18) [Ingo: I think he changes from pick to fingers on Tunnel of Love where he played the first two or so verses with a pick and then changed to a semi-lead/riff style played with the fingers]
List of songs played with a pick
Below is an attempt to list all songs from DS/solo/NHB on which he uses a pick. Question marks stand for not 100% sure.
1976 Pre-Dire Straits
He used a pick with the Café Racers because “it was a combination of rhythm and lead playing “as he explains in the Oldfield book. “I used more the pick at the time”
So we can assume that most of covers performed with Café Racers were played with a pick, on the Gibson LP special [Mark said he played with a pick in the Mick Green style then]
1978 Dire Straits
southbound again : accent chords [Ingo: not sure]
where do you think you’re going : acoustic part ? Live he played it with fingers, but the acoustic part on studio version sounds like being strummed ?
True love will never fade : lead The scaffolder’s wife : acoustic rhythm part ? The fizzy and the still : lead part for sure, but rhythm part ? A heart full of holes : electric licks We can get wild: lead and rhythm parts Punish the monkey : lead and rhythm parts Let it all go : lead and rhythm parts The fish and the bird : electric chords In the sky : electric chords
Border reiver : acoustic rhythm part and accent chords on the blonde telecaster Hard shoulder : lead part and acoustic rhythm part The car was the one : lead part and mandolin Remembrance day : mini martin So far from the clyde : acoustic rhythm part and accent chords on the blonde telecaster Piper to the end : acoustic rhythm part Early bird : wah-wah licks Time in the sun : acoustic rhythm part
Our Shangri-la ? (no video found)
Note : So far away was played with fingers during 2010 tour CORDOBA
Our Shangri-la ? (no video found) Note : So far away was played with fingers during 2011 tour ROMA
Our Shangri-la ? (no video found)
Note : So far away was played with fingers during 2012 tour BERKELEY
Redbud tree : acoustic rhythm part and accent chords (left channel) Yon two crows : electric chords (left and right channel) Seattle : lead part and acoustic rhythm part
I often get emails from people who ask me for help with playing some particular Mark Knopfler stuff, for tutorial videos, or for personal video tutoring via e.g. Skype. In fact I have been thinking about this for some time but am not sure yet in which direction to go (DVDs, online tutoring,…), or how many fans are out there who might be interested in this.
If you are interested you can help me to get this clear and do this quick survey. If I see that there is much interest, I will put more effort in preparing this stuff and get something running soon.
Just tick the best answer (or several answers). There are some text fields where you can enter additional information in case none of the provided answers matches your needs, or to leave a comment or make suggestions. You can leave out any of the individual questions if you feel to.
(Sorry, the layout of this survey is not ideal yet – need to find the associated CSS styles and edit these… – but it should be alright for now.)