Monday, January 2, 2012

Joe Walsh: Life of Illusion

How many pop/rock songs can you name that feature the guitarron? What’s a guitarron you ask? A guitiarron is that big guitar like acoustic bass that is used in Mariachi bands. It’s a fretless instrument that is tuned A D G C E A – which is a fourth lower than a guitar. That big instrument is quite a sight to see.

When Ernie Ball was looking at marketing a new instrument, the company took the inspiration from the guitarron to create the “Earthwood Bass Guitar.” The Earthwood was the first commercially successful acoustic bass guitar – now numerous companies sell similar instruments.

Back to my original question, “How many pop/rock songs can you name that feature the guitarron?” Although there may be several, I can only think of one – Joe Walsh’s “Life of Illusion.” While it only charted at #34 on the Hot 100, this 1981 release was a #1 record on the Mainstream Rock Charts. The song came from Walsh’s LP “There Goes the Neighborhood.”

The Guitarron in its Natural Habitat

I found this unusual but excellent video of the guitarron and the vihuela. I have no idea the name of these strange costumed musicians, but the song is excellent. The vihuela is tuned like the first five strings of a guitar; however, the A, D, and G are tuned an octave higher – much like a high strung guitar missing the low E.

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