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Learnt to play ‘Smoke’ yet?

Say Fender :
For more than 40 years now, Blackmore’s famously forceful G minor blues riff in the 1972 Deep Purple classic “Smoke on the Water” has served as the quintessential heavy rock guitar riff and a metal-melody primer for burgeoning rock guitarists everywhere. Its place in rock history is as solid as the stature of the guitarist who played it.

The Ritchie Blackmore Tribute Stratocaster takes you back in time and back to the shores of Switzerland’s Lake Geneva, where the smoke from the burning Montreux Casino drifted over the waters on Dec. 4, 1971, as the building was destroyed. That night, the members of Deep Purple watched the “fire in the sky” from their hotel and drew inspiration for a timeless rock classic. Blackmore played the song’s powerful double-stop riff on a black 1968 Stratocaster, not knowing at the time that he was creating an archetypal guitar figure that would be eagerly imitated by legions of guitarists.

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27 Comments to “Learnt to play ‘Smoke’ yet?”:

  1. 1
    Anthony says:

    Cracking looking guitar but its a little corny from Fender advertising it around Smoke on the water…yes its a ‘famous’ riff but I assume Blackers used the fender when playing the masterful Highway Star solo??? one of his finest solos. And come on here didnt Ritchie compose Stargazer and Gates of Babylon when playing a Fender?….two vastly more technical songs compared to Smoke but I suppose not just as ‘famous’.

    Anyway the guy has given us SO much music to be proud of over the last 50 years and all very diverse music…a genius , an innovator, versatilty personified and a guitar god!

  2. 2
    Pete says:

    I’d love to own one but with a MSRP of $8000 I guess my 2 1997 Jap ones will have to do.

  3. 3
    buttockss says:

    Yes it is truly a timeless riff to a classic song……….fire in sky!

  4. 4
    MacGregor says:

    What the heading should say is “Learnt to play Smoke correctly yet”? Or “Learnt to play Smoke properly yet”? So many so called guitarist’s still don’t play it correctly, comical really! The Stratocaster would be cool to own though!

  5. 5
    Scott says:

    It’s a nice guitar, but listening to the song, one should realize that what we are hearing in the opening riff is Jon Lords Hammond C3 organ pushed through a Marshall Stack.

  6. 6
    Eddie6string says:

    Are we celebrating art, Creativity & dexterity or allowing the modern God of Commerce to dictate what guitar we should buy or what colour our plectrums should be? Maybe we should all go to Japan & stand on the same stage(s) having drunk & eaten exactly the same meal as Ritchie – then & only then would I feel the experience of playing ‘Smoke’ would be authentic!
    Oops I forgot, I’d have to play it along side the same musicians! even if our dearly missed Jon was still with us – would Fender add these costs to the purchase price + Tax?
    I hate when manufacturers use these ‘Artist’s / Signature Models’ to manipulate folk to part with their money!

    Smell the coffee – that’s right – IT’S A FENDER STRAT a factory guitar, I’m guessing the wood used was only a sapling when Ritchie wrote & recorded the ‘Dang Dang’ song, how will it ever sound & feel the same, is each one made approved by ritchie?

    It’s the first time I’ve ever had a rant on this or any site & I hope I haven’t offended anyone with half a brain cell or more!

    What next – Signature Towels that Ringo put on his Kit during the making of ‘Abbey Road & Let it Be’????

    How about Signature ‘Daggers’ used by Keith Emerson?

    I’m calm now – promise – I would delete this comment, but it’s too much effort.

    Have a good weekend

  7. 7
    -MP- says:

    8000 USD, Wow…

  8. 8
    HardRockPete says:

    $8000????? There’s better ways to waste money….. Buy a MiJ Fender and mod the hell out of it!!!

  9. 9
    cyclone says:

    If his John Hancock is on it and he played each copy accompanied with certificate of official RB DNA….I will cash in my penny jar for one. That said..I hope he gets a sizable cut of the proceeds.

  10. 10
    essexuk gibbo says:

    bad timing due to the passing of ‘funkie claude’ i think …

  11. 11
    T says:

    Kudos to Fender for recognizing who I consider to be the greatest hard rock guitar player of all time–and likely the most overlooked and underrated. Blackmore is arguably far better than any of his peers as well as an innovator and influence on par with much better-known names. Any recognition of this great artist is a positive note.

    As for the guitar itself, the timeless design of the Fender is without peer. Although I love and collect all types of guitars, I prefer the clean lines, lighter weight, and bright tone of the Fender than the clunky, bulky, and heavy characteristics of many of its competitors.

    However cool this model is, it is double the price of the typical Custom Shop Fender and about four times the price of a higher-end regular production instrument. I am not a fan of the “relic” treatment, as all new guitars will eventually acquire that kind of patina over time, and I like my old guitars the same way I like old muscle cars: classic but clean. For that kind of money, I would not want a mark on it. In addition, this guitar is little more than a regular Strat with a 1/4″ straight tremolo arm. It would be different if it were hand-signed or heavily modified.

    The white Blackmore Signature Strats are an homage to Blackmore’s later rock career and come at a reasonable cost. There is a market for a Deep Purple-era Blackmore model such as this–but at an affordable price. And while Blackmore did tour with a black and white Strat for a number of years, wasn’t it a sunburst Strat in Gillan’s hands pictured on the inner cover of Machine Head?

    I say reproduce the Mark II era Strat’s specs without the artificial wear treatment, include the COA, and offer the model at a reasonable cost. As it is, this guitar is far too valuable to use and would end up DISplayed more than played.

  12. 12
    Tracy(Zero the Hero)Heyder says:

    Obviously a little pricey to say the least. Great thing to own though if one is a guitar collector. Nice to see TMIB being honored by this reproduction either way. To me it isn’t as valid as something such as the ‘Ian Paice Signature Snare Drum’ that he actually helped design and is in production and available for under $400.00. I own one. He actually uses one and I can see why. It’s really well built and sounds incredible. Every strike with a drum stick emits that Ian Paice snare sound. Unmistakable.


  13. 13
    Masse444 says:

    We all know Blackmore played a black strat/maple neck as his main guitar around this time. My guess, since all other signature guitars (Claptons Blackie, Stevie Ray Vaughn’s strat, Dave Gilmours..etc.) are modelled on the actual guitar they played…Blackmore’s apparently isn’t- It’s a general ´68 Strat and since he didn’t modify it a lot, except for the FAT whammy bar….. $8000 seems ridiculous..

  14. 14
    Fernando says:

    Anything I could write here wouldn´t express better what I think about this subject than Mr. Eddie6string posted on #6 comment. I totally agree with him.

  15. 15
    Roberto says:

    In my opinion Blackmore should be honoured for other things he did than for that SOTW copied riff…

  16. 16
    James Gemmell says:

    Interesting thing is, out of the millions of times that riff has been played in garages, bars, etcetera, over the decades, probably only a few hundred people have ever played it correctly. Watch anyone, including Steve Morse, “try” to play it, and you’ll notice they’re strumming the chords instead of plucking them, as Ritchie has said is the correct way to do it.

  17. 17
    Wildtrooper says:

    @ 5 – Scott, the opening riff is played on guitar and guitar alone. Jon doesnt join in until around the 5th bar.

    Guys, Ritchie “plucked” the strings in 4ths on the Machine Head album, but used a plectrum live. You can see this on the only existing video of the band playing it live (Hofstra Uni 73) and any guitar player will tell you that he’s using a plectrum on MIJ too. Don’t get too protective with the right way to play this riff. Its extremely easy either way…Its timeless qualities exist in its simplicity.


    Ps. As much as I love RB, I would never pay $8000 dollars for a standard 70’s Strat. even if it was 30 odd years old, they were awful and the pre CBS or new ones are much better.

  18. 18
    Anthony says:

    @17 Yes indeed Ritchie does ‘pluck’ the notes of the riff certainly during the studio recording. Blackers also mentions this during the excellent making of Machine Head DVD ( classic album series ). Its also interesting to note that Ritchie was inspired by the opening of Beethoven’s 5th symphony when composing the riff.

  19. 19
    T says:

    The only kind of music which requires a rule of being played “properly” is “classical” music, and even then, every conductor/musician has a style that can be as distinctive as a fingerprint. Some people will actually search out a particular band leader, soloist, or orchestra for a particular piece. Performances will be very similar with only slight differences, but to some, these interpretations make a difference. For example: For me, the Karl Böhm/Maurizio Pollini/Wiener Philharmoniker is the version of Beethoven’s “Emperor” Concerto (No. 5 Op. 73) I listen to, and anyone else sounds “funny”.

    If the point of playing “Smoke on the Water” properly is the topic, then we have to establish the “real” “Smoke on the Water”. If that is the recorded version, then it was NEVER played properly. Even Blackmore played the “wrong” chords and had to be corrected by Jon Lord, and throughout the years, he added another note among the parts of the famous riff–on the off beat.

    With apologies to Mr. Blackmore, the “best” official version is the Roger Glover remix. Only Blackmore could manage that ending. That version is the way it should have been all along. “Break a leg, Frank!”

    Tommy Bolin played the riff quite differently as well. It was an interesting take on it. Tommy was adept at infusing his own style into Blackmore riffs with great success. His “Stormbringer”, I feel, was better than Blackmore’s, sounding a little more Hendrixian. I liked his “Burn” as well.

    For me, the best live versions of “Smoke” were the Live in Japan dates–the first two nights. The third night was a bit of a mess–as it was when played early on.

    Therefore, the song has a history of being played “wrong”. Even Purple sometimes did not do it justice, and Blackmore continued to evolve as he played the riff differently. I have heard many other versions of the riff, and only Blackmore’s studio version and the Made in Japan live recording cut the mustard.

    Despite the simplicity of the riff, and the very frequent renditions at your local Guitar Center by aspiring musicians, the riff is not an easy one to get right without it sounding corny. It is only a couple of notes (I play it plucked in double-stops on the center strings, “incorrectly”), but if not done with a careful touch, the tension created by those few notes is degraded.

    You can hear my version at https://sites.google.com/site/stratkatzguitarbunker/home/fender-stratocaster-strat-plus . Video at the bottom–scroll to 00:35.

  20. 20
    Hornoxe says:

    Is that meant to be the one he is said to have thrown into the audience (on some MK3 gig if I remember correctly)?
    On the NY video mentioned before, he is seen with at least three different strats, black, sunburst and blonde. MK3 he had multiple blondes (e.g. on CalJam). A sunburst one on Rainbow Rockpalast 1977. Around that time, he should have chosen his white one already, replaced by the second White with the Synthypickup (after loosing its scalloped fingerboard :P), which I had the pleasure to see him play the famous riff on just last year. So I think all the already existing white Tribute guitars make much more sense, since that one was at leas modified an made personal.
    While the black one was just the one he had at the time (af far as I can say). So I guess it’s something which I can get for 1/10 the money anyway.

    @5: Left channel Ritchie, right channel John. I see no reason to question that, especially since they made the album under near-live circumstances. And you can clearly hear the guitar strings during the first and second bar.

    @16: There is a video on Youtube of Steve Morse explaining how to play the riff, and he says the strings are intended to sound exactly at the same time, so he shows how he uses his second and third finger. Nontheless he starts using his thumb for the bassline, which he does in concert quite regularly, which (together with his pinch harmonics) gives the riff a totally different feel… maybe closer to the record, but I would prefer the more energetic interpretations of Blackmore like in 1993/1995, surely done with a pick (as can be seen in videos).

  21. 21
    Mike says:

    Using two fingers strapping cords from downside to upside… It comes…..

  22. 22
    purpdawg says:

    Ritchie says he played it plectrum in the studio and most of the videos he does just that. But I have seen he and Steve do it with a pick as well. I have always wondered why that is.

  23. 23
    Pete says:

    My 8 year old is hounding me to buy one…. He started playing 2 years ago and (with no help from me) idolizes Ritchie. I made the mistake of showing it to him on the Fender site and it’s all I hear. Maybe get him a Black maple neck 70’s reissue…? and save $7000…..

  24. 24
    Arthur says:

    If I recall correctly, Ritchie screwed the middle pickup right down as it got in the way and he never used it. In fact Fender released a ‘Signature’ model some time ago with a dummy middle pickup!

  25. 25
    Tracy(Zero the Hero)Heyder says:

    For all you who only want stuff from the past….
    Check out this 12 year old doing an amazing job with Ritchie’s riff.


    Now, if he can find the rest of the band members in his age group for the other parts with his level of playing, Purple can live on for another 50 years….


  26. 26
    purplepriest1965 says:


    I wish people would finally get into loads of other even better tracks Blackmore produced.

    It is quite an insult really to pin him down on just this riff.

  27. 27
    Tracy(Zero the Hero)Heyder says:

    Priest, it isn’t that Blackmore is pinned down to that one track. As a matter of fact, I bet for every 10 people you ask, “who is responsible for the famous riff…Da Da Da…Da Da, DaDa…..Da Da Da…DaDa?” 8 wouldn’t have any idea…..
    The sad fact to the matter is how few people know anything about Purple and Co. Period.


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