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Who does the lead electric guitar riff in "Happiness is a Warm Gun"?
25 August 2017
2.25am
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Pineapple Records
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It's the only electric guitar riff in the song -- preceding the "I need a fix" part and following the same melody as the sung lines it precedes.  It sounds like an electric guitar playing a middle-range melody on the deepest string(s), with a sound effect of controlled power.  I'd say George did it, but it could be John...

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25 August 2017
10.39am
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QuarryMan
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George. I think. Where's Dark Overlord when you need him? 

Tall, dark-haired QuarryMan likes basketball, music, and naturally, boys. He was a valuable participant on the track team. He is one of Freeport's great contributors to the recording world. As for the immediate future, QuarryMan has no plans, but will take life as it comes. 

 

25 August 2017
11.06am
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Ron Nasty
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Both John and George are credited with lead guitar, but John plays a normal guitar while George plays a fuzzed guitar, and since that riff sounds very fuzzed to me, it would have to be George.

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The Beatles Non-Canon Poll List

25 August 2017
11.48am
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Von Bontee
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I've often wondered about that bit...it's so weirdly distorted, I can't think offhand of another Beatle guitar part with that particular brand of "heavy" tone. I can imagine it being achieved with a wah pedal, not being manipulated but frozen in one position...or I guess some other kind of fuzz box,  whatever type they had available.

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25 August 2017
1.17pm
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Ron Nasty
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It would have probably been a fuzzbox, @Von Bontee @vonbontee, as The Beatles used them consistently through their career.

They are known to have used one of the first invented, the Maestro Fuzztone:

Maestro-Fuzztone.jpgImage Enlarger

in 1963-64, as it can be seen in pictures of them at work:

John-Maestro-Fuzztone.jpgImage Enlarger

George-Maestro-Fuzztone.jpgImage Enlarger

They later used the Pep Rush fuzz pedal:

John-Pep-Rush-fuzz-pedal.jpgImage Enlarger

They also used the Vox Tonebender and the Fuzz Face during the Get Back sessions, so it could be an early use of one of those.

Given just how harsh it is though, I lean toward the Maestro.

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The Beatles Non-Canon Poll List

25 August 2017
4.47pm
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Thanks Ron Nasty and vonbontee!  If it was George, I wonder if John coached him on what he wanted, since the riff sounds very specific, not free-form.  Then I wonder if or when John told other Beatles what to do, was he as annoyingly perfectionistic as Paul? 

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25 August 2017
6.44pm
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Listening to it again, I think he (George?) is also using that vibrato lever doo-hickey (the official name) on electric guitars that allow you to bend the notes up and down or wobble them like taffy.

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15 September 2017
1.07pm
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Dark Overlord
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The vibrato you're referring to is actually George bending the strings highly. Eric Clapton does some high bends on While My Guitar Gently Weeps so it's possible that he learned his bending technique from him.

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