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A History of Prog Rock and the Gear Behind the Sound

The History of Prog Rock: A Heaviness Complex

Blending musical virtuosity, technical knowledge, and extreme musical intellect, progressive rock is a touchstone for musicians who value big dreams and extreme musical achievement. To play prog rock requires much experience as a listener and as a player, but an open mind, quality gear, and knowledge of the style will go a long way. Check out this history of prog rock -- and some of the most essential gear for creating it -- and you'll be on your way to playing in this classic rock style.
Tube Amps, Effects Pedals, and Classic Guitars
By the late 1960s, music from West Coast psychedelic rockers like Jimi Hendrix, the Jefferson Airplane, and Frank Zappa (who promoted the idea of stretching out songs) -- along with genre-busting groups like the Velvet Underground, the Fugs, and the Holy Modal Rounders -- made it obvious that newer groups were more interested in the works of Terry Riley and John Coltrane rather than flower power and Muddy Waters.

In the UK, groups like Beatles, the Moody Blues, Pink Floyd, and Genesis began to popularize longer songs, larger ambitions, and larger palettes of musical instruments -- with an emphasis on synthesizer technology. These grandiose visions of rock and roll, combined with an embrace of technology, would kickstart the first wave of prog rock bands like Yes; Emerson, Lake and Palmer; and King Crimson.
Electro-Harmonix Octavix Octave Fuzz Pedal
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Outboard Effects, Effects Pedals, and Advanced Electric Guitars
The sound of classic prog was greatly influenced by late-'60s recording technology. The complicated arrangements and heavily treated instruments used by all those bands were made practical thanks to multi-track recorders and multi-channel mixing consoles. This wider selection of studio and stage effects allowed musicians to conceptualize beyond their usual sonic scope, and to create previously unheard tones.

The widespread success of this longer-format music in the FM radio market resulted in massive record sales and hugely successful tours and concerts. The prog rockers of the late '60s became cultural behemoths that would forever embody the extremes and intricacies of this bold new style of rock.
Eventide TimeFactor Delay Pedal
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Moog Minitaur Bass Synthesizer
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Outside Influences and Synthesizers
As prog rock matured, new combinations and genres like glam, krautrock, art rock, and new-age music emerged. They borrowed elements of prog and married them to different musical conventions.

Pop star David Bowie and glam rock bands like T-Rex and Slade combined futuristic style with 3-minute pop song craft and androgynous theatricality, becoming cultural icons. Krautrockers from Germany like Can, Faust, and Neu! went a more minimalist route, embracing abstract looping and droning to create long, rhythmically intense songs. New-age artists like Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dream, and Jean Michel Jarre used synthesizers and mixing boards to fashion a completely electronic sound world -- mostly performing with gear they modified or built themselves.
Epiphone Thunderbird Classic IV PRO Electric Bass
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Roland System-1 AIRA Variable Synthesizer Keyboard
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Korg Volca Beats Analog Rhythm Machine
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New Wave, Interfaces, and Beats
In the 1980s, a new breed of rock musicians began to embrace some of the more specific sounds of many prog rock groups that had fallen out of fashion. Post-punk, new wave, new age, IDM and post-rock feature many musical elements and sonic signatures of what was the essential prog rock sound.

Post-punks like the Stranglers, Sonic Youth, the Screamers, or Throbbing Gristle incorporated krautrock and art-rock into punk, while post-rockers like Slint and Television created multi-part compositions which owed a lot to the classic side-long album tracks released by prog giants. Techno music is indebted to new age pioneers and prog rock in general. Neo-prog rockers like Rush, The Mars Volta, Tool, and Dream Theater keep the soul of prog rock alive, embracing musicality and technology to create their modern take on this legendary musical style.
Line 6 Firehawk FX Guitar Multi-Effects Pedal
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Ableton Push 2 Controller for Ableton Live
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1. zZounds offers the industry‘s most musician-friendly payment plans

zZounds offers a variety of Play as You Pay installment plans that allow you to get the gear you want today. While our competitors might offer house credit cards that require you to fill out an application and pass a credit check, our payment plans are easy to get, simple to use, and, best of all, accrue zero interest. Unlike those house credit cards that can leave you vulnerable to exorbitant interest charges once the promotional period ends, we never have and never will charge interest when you take advantage of one of the zZounds Play as You Pay plans.

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Seen it for less somewhere else? Get it for less at zZounds. Simply click the “Seen it for less?” link on any product page and as long as we‘re not losing money, we‘ll beat any legitimate competitor‘s lowest price, usually within two hours. Want our best price even faster? Call us at 800-zZounds (800-996-8637), and we‘ll provide you with a lower price on the phone. Also, if you purchase from us and later find the product for less elsewhere, call or email us within 45 days, and we‘ll refund you the difference.

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At zZounds, we know you want your gear fast, and shipped to you free of charge. That‘s why we have absolutely free ground shipping on every single order shipped within the continental United States. This includes heavy and oversized items. No minimum purchase required. No exclusions. We also ship over 90% of our orders with FREE 2-day shipping. We pull it all off with our strategically placed, coast-to-coast warehouses.

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Buy it, try it, like it, or return it to us for a full refund. It‘s just that simple. If you‘re not in love with what you bought, return it to zZounds within 45 days, and we‘ll promptly arrange for an exchange or a refund. No hassles. No hidden charges. And if a product‘s defective or damaged, call us at 800-zZounds (800-996-8637), and we‘ll email you a prepaid shipping label so you can easily return it to us at zero cost to you.

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zZounds has received multiple Bizrate® Circle of Excellence Platinum awards, placing us in the top 0.7 percent of Bizrate‘s network of 5,200 retailers. Our success in meeting the needs of our customers -- since 1996, we‘ve satisfied over 1,000,000 people -- is due in large part to the fact that zZounds only hires experienced musicians to answer your calls and emails, and they are never paid a commission.

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Available on
orders $59+
learn more

Need it now but short of cash? All we need is the first payment up front and the rest in easy monthly payments!

Fast approval.
We approve everyone, with very few exceptions, as long as we can verify your identity.
No interest. Ever.
It's just as if you paid the whole amount up front!
No paperwork. Nothing to track.
No application to mail or fax, no bills to pay. We automatically charge the payments to your credit card.

We'll wait on your money so you don't have to wait for your gear!

When you checkout, just click the Play as you Pay checkbox to indicate which installment plan you wish to use.

close [x]
no minimum

learn more

Why fight traffic and pushy salesmen when we'll bring your gear straight to your home, free of charge?

zZounds free shipping is really free!
No hidden charges or hassles on returns.
Fast, reliable delivery
We have warehouses on both coasts, so most shipments arrive in 3 days or less.
We don't collect sales tax. Bonus!
Only NJ residents pay tax during checkout.
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A guarantee so solid, you never have to worry about price when shopping at zZounds

We'll beat any price
Simply click the Seen it for less? link next to the gear you want or call us at 800-zZounds (800-996-8637)
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Use it with us - we'll beat those prices, too!
Find a better price after buying from us?
No problem. We'll refund you the difference for 45 days, so you'll never regret buying from zZounds.

You'll still get the trustworthy service you've come to expect from zZounds, without paying more for your gear!