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Friend of the Devil

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In this tutorial you're going to learn how to play the folk rock classic "Friend Of The Devil" as made famous by the Grateful Dead. This is a super fun song to play, and it's packed with iconic guitar parts that draw from everything from rock to folk and bluegrass. For that reason it works equally well as a single acoustic guitar song or with a full rockin' band behind it. The studio version of this song features a massive tapestry of stringed instruments - two busy acoustic guitars, panned left and right as well as a mandolin that plays lines, chords and fills throughout it.

First off you have the classic intro with the descending line in one side of the mix and the fills and counter melodies in the other side. The bass even chimes in with a couple of melodic fills.

Then you're into the verse, where guitar 1 initially keeps that descending line going. Guitar 2 plays a multitude of fills and rhythm parts, but if you want to play this song with just one guitar, guitar 1's rhythm part can carry it all on it's own.

For the purpose of this tutorial I've condensed the essence of guitar 2's fills and rhythm parts into one repeating guitar part that can be rehearsed and reused for all the verses of the song.

Then there's the B-section that builds a ton of tension, and in the middle of the song there's a jammy solo that we'll break down as well.

This whole song stays pretty much at the same dynamic level after the intro, which helps to further the restless feeling that the lyrics describe.

You can play this song on many levels, ranging from just strumming the basic harmony to nailing all the little fills and details. Follow me in each lesson and pick up as much as you can along the way, so that you can ultimately create your own great version of this classic song.

We're in the good ol' key of G, in fast 4/4 time and the quarter equals 204 bpm. Since this is such a fast tempo it's very common to count it half as fast. This is called "cut time", and if you count it that way the quarter note would be 102 BPM. So let's get started!