The most famous rendition of this traditional song from the Eastern Mediterranean was Dick Dale’s surf rock version, though the song now spans generations thanks largely to Pulp Fiction in 1994, the Black Eyed Peas, ‘Pump It’ in 2006, and Dick Dale’s original outing in the early sixties. Though you might dismiss this eastern influenced number as a tremolo picking party trick, it’s a great song for guitarists for many reasons as we shall see…
First, I recommend watching the following video by Ben Higgins where he painstakingly explains that the tremolo picking mechanic is much more than a cheesy party trick, and is actually the key to being able to pull off fast alternate picking. Check it out, especially if you’ve been trying to play fast and haven’t had any success, or have been meddling with all manner of pickslanting and haven’t had any joy either.
Now, if you’re excited at the thought of tremolo picking as a solution to fast picking, which I can honestly say makes absolute sense, just sitting there tremolo-picking away is about the dullest thing you can do on a guitar. This is where Misirlou comes in! If you’re going to tremolo pick all day, you may as well learn a great song while doing it. Check out Dick Dale busting through it back in 1995.
You don’t have to restring your guitar upside down to play it, and you should be working this one out by ear as it’s merely a question of finding the right notes for the main melodies. The hardest part of this tune is the sheer stamina required to play it, which doubles as an excellent way of practicing Ben Higgin’s suggestion from the first video. It goes without saying that if the tremolo picking mechanic is the key to fast picking, you’re going to need the kind of stamina required to play Misirlou to be able to maintain your fast picking technique for any amount of time when you play regular licks.
So, turn the reverb up to 11 and try this out!