The Guitar Style Of Tom DeLonge

Tom DeLonge is one of the most iconic punk musicians ever and his melodic style has influenced an entire genre of music and an entire generation of guitarists.

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Tom DeLonge is a very well-known and influential guitarist and vocalist. He came to prominence in the band Blink-182 and has also fronted Boxcar Racer and the more recent Angels & Airwaves. While always evolving, his style is very identifiable and includes elements of punk, roots rock, country, and various 80's styles. In this lesson I would like to break down some of the more useful elements of his technique.

Here is a list of some of the guitars and amps Tom has favored. His Blink tone comes from a blend of his Marshall and Mesa.

Fender Custom Strat Gibson Custom ES-333 Fender Jaguar

Marshall JCM 900 Mesa Boogie Triple Rectifier Marshall/Mesa Cabinets Fender Twin Reverb Vox AC30

Many of Blink's songs are based around open strings and pedal tones. The repeated note and tempo at which the pieces are played really fill out Blink's power trio sound.


The riff to "Dammit".
E---------------------------------------------------
B---------------------------------------------------
G---------------------------------------------------
D------0-0-2-------0-0-2-------0-0-2-------2-2-0----
A-3-3---------------------0-0-----------------------
E-------------3-3--------------------1-1------------
 
The main riff to "Dysentary Gary".
 
E-------------------------------------------------------------------
B-------------------------------------------------------------------
G-------------------------------------------------------------------
D--4-4-4-0-0-0-5-5-5-4-4-4-0-0-0--------4-4-4-----------------------
A----------------------------------------------0-0-4-4-4-4-4-4/5----
E---------------------------------3-3-3-----------------------------
 
The lead part in "The Rock Show".
 
E---------------------------------------------------
B---------------------------------------------------
G---------------------------------------------------
D-------------2--------0------------------------
A-0--0--0--0-----0--0-----0--0--4--0--5--0----------
E---------------------------------------------------
 
E----------------------------------------------------
B----------------------------------------------------
G----------------------------------------------------
D-------------2--------0------------------------
A-0--0--0--0-----0--0-----0--0--4--7--4--0--
E----------------------------------------------------
Every aspect of Blink-182's guitar sound is based on melody. Often times the "riff" in the song will be built from a major chord arpeggio and layerd on top of Mark and Travis's rock solid pocket.

"Mutt". Here he is just riding the higher notes of an A major barre, ommitting the A on the E string.

E|----------------------
B|----------------------
G|----6-----6------6----
D|-7-----7------7-------
A|-----7------7---------
E|----------------------
The riff to "Reckless Abandon". There is somewhat of a country/rockabilly vibe to this one.
E|-----------------------------------------------
B|-----------------------------------------------
G|-----------------------------------------------
D|-1---4-2---1---4-2---1---4-2---1---1-2---------
A|---2---------2---------2---------2-----4-------
E|-----------------------------------------------
The lead guitar part for the AVA song "The Adventure". The guitar on the recording is heavily delayed.
E|----------------------------------------------------------------
B|----------------------------------------------------------------
G|-11-11-11-9-9-9-8-8--9-9-9-8-8-8-------9-9-9-8-8-8--------------
D|----------------------------------9-9--------------9-9----------
A|-------------------------------------------------------7-6------
E|-----------------------------------------------------------7----
A lot of the songs are built on a rootsy octave progression over a marching beat played by Travis (and sometimes Atom).

"Watch the World" by Boxcar Racer.

E----------------------------------------------------------------
B----------------------------------------------------------------
G-4444444444-6666-4444444444-6666-4444444444-888-444-333333-444--
D------------6666------------6666--------------------------------
A-2222222222-4444-2222222222-4444-2222222222-666-222-111111-222--
E----------------------------------------------------------------
Another technique Tom employs is moving bass notes. This is the chorus to the Boxcar single "There Is".
E---------------------------------------------------
B---------------------------------------------------
G -44444444444-44444444444-44444444444-44444444444--
D -44444444444-44444444444-44444444444-44444444444--
A -22222222222--------------------------------------
E -------------22222222222-44444444444-22222222222--
Once Tom began the Angels & Airwaves project his tone switched to a more chimey, delay-driven, clean sound.

11 comments sorted by best / new / date

    bry98tico
    people here are such jerks, tom probobly isnt the best guitarist and he doesnt claim to be so idk y people always hate on him, i believe all you need to be a goof guitarist is to be creative wich thats exacly what tom is, creative and inspirational and be able to move people with his lyrics.
    fastlanestoner
    ps they cut out the entire section I wrote on Tom's style once AVA started rolling. if you'd like it just PM me.
    Slash_is_a_God
    fastlanestoner wrote: you don't have to shred to be a guitar hero, you just have to be influential.
    I don't think being influential is the only qualification necessary. For instance, Tom DeLonge didn't pioneer any of those techniques, and it would be drastically easy to be a player of the same stature and playing efficiency and never cite Blink as an influence. Those techniques are found in... *thinks for a moment*... pretty close to any Rock band alive. My apologies if I am blunt, but I would've spent the time writing a beginner lesson on the techniques you listed as opposed to doing an artist discussion on a guitarist that anyone under 15 can imitate.
    fastlanestoner
    instead of insulting me, why don't you write your own lesson on someone that influenced you? that is the point of this "great" guitar community after all.
    krypticguitar87
    fastlanestoner wrote: instead of insulting me, why don't you write your own lesson on someone that influenced you? that is the point of this "great" guitar community after all.
    it's not so much that he influenced you that they are debating it's whether or not you can call him an influecial punk guitarist, since he primarily was preceeded by plenty of punk guitarists that were beter than him and more original *cough* the ramones, the sex pistol, the clash, green day, the offspring *cough* seriously he's not iconic, and he's not a guitar hero, I agree that you don't have to shred to be a guitar hero, but you have to poineer a little, not just copy all the bands from your genre before and front a few crappy pop punk bands.... and yes blink 182, angels and airwaves and boxcar racer are pop punk... he may have influenced you but the only real influence he had on the music industry as a whole was simple plan and good charlotte, not really something to brag about....
    kangaxxter
    At first I thought this was written ironically. This article makes as much sense as "How to solo like Johnny Ramone".
    Thero35
    Tom knows he's not by any means a great guitarist. He has said it many, many times. He also knows he gets little respect in the guitar community. But he enjoys doing what he does and writing songs. He knows he's not a "guitar god" and most likely never will be. It became a joke between the fans and the band itself. A line from "The Mark, Tom, and Travis Show" 'Words of Wisdom':Tom: "What do we do now? Oh I need a new guitar."Mark: "We need a new guitar. We need a new guitarist. *chuckles* Anyone out there know how to play guitar? Tththth right there."T: "Does anybody know how to play guitar? 'Cause I'm not very good. People don't really respect me."