Classic Rock Licks

By Steve Eulberg, for Mountain Dulcimer Players

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VideoAbout the Lessons

1. Introduction Joe Collins once said, "A dulcimer has 1/2 the frets and 1/2 the strings, but ALL the music." And it's true ... the dulcimer doesn't have a chromatic fretboard, and only has 3 strings. But in this series, Steve Eulberg will demonstrate sounds and classic rock licks you never thought could be possible on a mountain dulcimer.
2. Building Block 1 A lot of the classic rock 'n roll licks come from the blues pentaonic minor scale.
3. Building Block 2 Rock guitar and punk guitar are built on playing power chords without the 3rd tone. Add an overdriven amplifier, and you're in the zone.
4. Ain't No Sunshine The melody of this tune is built on the A minor pentatonic scale, which is easily accessible on a mountain dulcimer without any extra frets.
5. Slow Ride by Foghat Steve plays this familiar tune using the power chords on frets 1, 4, and 3. He uses the palm-mute technique, which is also taught by Aubrey Atwater in her lesson titled Slap Strum.
6. 25 or 6 to 4 by Chicago According to composer Robert Lamm, this song is about trying to write a song in the middle of the night. The song's title is the time at which the song was set: 25 or 26 minutes before 4 AM. In what may have been a coincidence, Robert Lamm had recently written and sung another Chicago hit, "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?" Maybe this song's title is the answer to his question.

For this lick, we will take advantage of the 6+ fret.
7. Smoke on the Water by Deep Purple, Part A This tune again uses the power chords on frets 2, 4, 5, and 6. This song is about a recording studio and a gambling house that burned down on the Lake Geneva shoreline, because someone was careless with a flare gun.
8. Smoke on the Water by Deep Purple, Part B Steve shows how to play the same power chords in the key of C# by starting on the 6+ fret, so he have the same relationship of tones.
9. Proud Mary by Creedence Clearwater Revival For this tune, the 1+ fret is very important if playing in the key of D. Notice Steve again uses the palm-mute technique.
10. Paint It Black by the Rolling Stones This one has us moving back and forth from the melody string to the bass string. The lyrics describe the extreme grief suffered by one stunned by the sudden and unexpected loss of wife, lover or partner. 
11. Layla by Eric Clapton For this melody, the 1+ fret is again important. Steve is plucking every other note, and using the hammer-on technique. Steve has a separate lesson where he teaches the how-to for hammer-ons and hammer-offs.
12. Day Tripper by the Beatles What's fun about this tune is that the lick is repeated on a higher tone, and the second time you have to "bend" to find the note that's not really there. Check out Steve's lessons on articulations and "bends" to help you master this technique.
13. Sunshine of Your Love by Cream The 1+ fret is needed and the bending technique is used to facilitate playing all the notes in this lick. This song is on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's list of the "500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll.”
14. Back in Black by AC/DC In this tune, there is a decending lick. The 6+ fret is needed and the bending technique is applied again.
15. The Chain by Fleetwood Mac This song has a distinctive bass lick that sounds best when played on the bass string of a mountain dulcimer.


  • 25 or 6 to 4
  • Ain't No Sunshine
  • Back in Black
  • Day Tripper
  • Iron Man
  • Layla
  • Paint It Black
  • Proud Mary
  • Slow Ride
  • Smoke on the Water A
  • Smoke on the Water B
  • Sunshine of Your Love
  • The Chain


  • Ain't No Sunshine

  • Iron Man

  • Paint It Black

  • Proud Mary

  • Slow Ride

  • Smoke on the Water A

Music GlobeExtras

  • In this video, enjoy Eric Clapton playing Layla at Madison Square Garden in a 1999 concert.

  • This music video features Deep Purple performing Smoke On The Water in 2007.

  • Watch Paint it Black performed by the Rolling Stones in live concert at Beacon Theatre, New York City, in 2006.

  • And here is Foghat playing Slow Ride, live at the Naperville Ribfest in 2014.
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