Watch the Coral Blunder online guitar lesson by Jason Loughlin from Essentials: Surf Guitar
For this study, I start by establishing a call and response between a low melody and raking through an arpeggio in the upper register. Both phrases outline the arpeggios with very few passing notes. The progression we're playing over is E, C, and A.
In between each phrase, I add a different effect: The first time through I add a pick scrape at the end. Nokie Edwards would do this with his fingernail but there isn't any reason for one or the other. The second time through I added a vibrato bar dip. Our progression will change to A, F, and D, and we're gonna play the exact same melody transposed up. Repetition is a common device used in this era of surf. This just drives the idea home even more.
Then, we change gears to a totally new progression that will make A feel like the tonal center. I play a three note arpeggio over F, G, and A. By playing a three note pattern using straight eighth notes the accent will alternate between downbeats and upbeats. When we reach the A chord, I use double stops and walk down the arpeggio to the Em chord. Again, we have a shift in the tonal center. These shifts are common and help to add harmonic surprises to the tune. The last two measures of Em is arpeggiated in an unorthodox way. The palm muted pattern is R, 5, b3, 5.