Ramones A-Z intro: how to play like Johnny Ramone

This is a series that I’ve wanted to do for a long time. I was waiting until I could get myself a Mosrite Ventures II copy (I’m obviously not going to get a real one, as there are maybe only 50 in existence). Ideally, I’d like a Fillmore; Johnny actually played those near the end of his life but they just don’t come up for sale often. Eastwood has one that is reportedly quite nice, but I want to play it first! If something ever pops up nearby, I’ll probably jump on it, but for now, my new G&L ASAT Bluesboy gets the job done. It’s got a fairly hot bridge pickup that lends itself well to the Ramones sound.

Anyways, in this series, I’ll be showing you how to play EVERY (yes, every) song the Ramones ever recorded, even the covers. We’ll be going through them alphabetically, but first, we need to go over a few things about how Johnny played. While Johnny was a really limited guitar player, he did what he did exceptionally well, and it’s more difficult than a lot of folks assume. For starters: Johnny didn’t play power chords. He played full major barre chords pretty much all the time. He’d occasionally throw in a minor chord, but it was rare. The shapes he used were your basic E and A shape barre chords, as seen below:

“E shape” barre chord
“A shape” barre chord

Note that when using the “A shape”, you still play the 6th string. This additional fifth on the bottom of the chord really fattens up the sound. While I included the 1st string fingering in the diagrams, you don’t need to worry about getting that top note. Johnny didn’t. You’ll want to check out the video for some additional tips on efficiently switching between these two shapes.

Aside from the chord shapes, the next most important thing about sounding like Johnny is your picking. Unlike the barre chord thing though, everybody knows Johnny only did down strokes. Lots of folks are lazy about this part though, and you shouldn’t be. It makes a big difference in the sound. If you’re getting tired, try lowering your guitar a bit so that your arm is fully extended. Pick from your wrist, not your elbow, and keep at it. It’s tough, but worth it.

I’ll be uploading the lesson for the first song, 53rd & 3rd, soon.

August/September shows

I totally missed the July update, but that’s just because there were shows out the wazoo! August has been no different so far, so here’s the breakdown:

Fox & the Red Hares will be at Mission Tobacco Lounge this Wednesday, August 24th. We will then be at Papa Joe’s Pizza on Friday, the 26th, for an acoustic set. Then we will be at the Tiki Bar in Costa Mesa on Wedneday, September 7th with Porter & the Bluebonnet Rattlesnakes. Very excited for that show!

The Copycats will be back at our regular spot, Shady Nook, in Brea, on Saturday, September 10th.

The Rockaways will be at the Blacklight District Lounge, in Long Beach, on Sunday, September 4th. We’ll also be at the 5-Star Bar in Los Angeles on the 24th. Details on other dates for September are still being worked out, but there should be 2-3 more shows for the month.

As always, check the calendar for the most recent updates and show information. That parses the info straight from my own Google Calendar, so it’s always the first thing that gets updated.

June shows

June is always a busy month for me. This year is no exception.

Fox & the Red Hares will be back at the Doll Hut on the 11th, along with our friends Boyfriend Material, Jimi Lewis & the Muckers, and many others. We will also be making our debut at the Hideaway Cafe in Riverside on Tuesday, June 21st. Check out http://foxandtheredhares.com for more details.

The Copycats will be making two appearances Katiejakes in Covina. First will be June 9th, then again on the 30th. We’ll be playing from 11-1230 on both nights.

The Rockaways will be playing this Thursday and Friday. Thursday we will be at Los Globos in Silverlake, and Friday we will be at the Doll Hut in Anaheim. Check out the Rockaways facebook page for more info.

And finally, after a long time away, I’ll be playing with Pro-fe-cia again on June 12th. More details to come.

April shows

I’ve been REALLY bad about keeping this site updated. Things have been busy since NAMM.

Anyway, April shows!

Fox & the Red Hares will be playing at Papa Joe’s Pizza this Friday, the 8th, doing a special acoustic folk set. Then we’re headed back to the Inland Empire Brewing Co on Saturday, the 9th. We’ll be joined by our friends Small Spaces and Boyfriend Material. $2 off all beer pours all night too!

The Rockaways will be in full effect this month. Playing MTL in Riverside on the 15th. Then we’ll be at Paladino’s in Los Angeles on the 23rd.

The Copycats will be back at our regular spot, Shady Nook in Brea, on the 16th.

Come on out and have a good time!

January shows

Haven’t been posting a lot here recently. Ever since the release of the Fox & the Red Hares record, I’ve been a bit burnt out. Still keeping busy though!

The Copy Cats will be at Katie Jakes in Covina this Sunday (December 10th). It’s a short set (just an hour), and pretty early (4:30pm) but it’ll be fun. Then we’ll be at our regular spot, Shady Nook in Brea, on the 16th.

I’ve also been playing with Ramones tribute band The Rockaways recently. It’s always a ton of fun. We’re playing at Bar 1650 in Corona this Saturday, the 9th. We’re closing the evening, but there will be bands playing all night.

Finally, Fox & the Red Hares will be all over SoCal this month. We’ll be at the District Lounge in Redlands on Thursday, the 14th. Then we’ll be at the Doll Hut in Anaheim Saturday, the 23rd with our good buddies Jimi Lewis & the Muckers. Then we’ll be at Lot 1 Cafe in Echo Park on the 29th with our new buddies Countless Thousands!

Oh yeah! F&tRH are also back in the studio! We’ll have a new single out soon!

December shows

Really been lagging on the updates recently. November turned into an odd month. I got in a really serious car wreck, and while I wasn’t hurt, it sort of tossed everything up in the air for a while.

Anyways, lots of shows coming up. Fox & the Red Hares are at Mission Final Lounge TONIGHT with the Stillwinter and Aesthetic Perfection. It’s a charity show benefiting the Wounded Warrior Project. We will also be at the Menagerie in Riverside this Sunday (December 6) and the Inland Empire Brewing Co next Friday (the 11th).

I’ll also be making a couple appearances with the Rockaways, who do a Ramones show. We will be at the Doll Hut this Saturday, December 5th, for a food drive, and at Mission Tobacco Lounge on the 19th.

The Copycats and Pro-fé-cia also have some shows in the works for the month, but the details aren’t finalized yet. Check the calendar to keep up to date.