Jangle pop is a subgenre of rock music that features jangly, treble-focused electric guitars reminiscent of The Beatles, R.E.M., Big Star, and The Byrds. This "jangly" sound can often be attributed to single-coil pickups—commonly found on guitars made by Fender and Rickenbacker—and bright, trebly amplifiers with minimal distortion.\n\nJangle pop has found its way into many genres, including college rock (R.E.M., The dB’s, The Bangles, The Smiths), folk rock (The Byrds), [post-punk](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/post-punk-music-guide) (Wire, Gang of Four), alternative rock (10,000 Maniacs, Teenage Fanclub), lo-fi indie rock (Guided By Voices, Pavement), and mainstream pop-rock (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers).\nThe jangly guitar sound at the hub of jangle pop dates back to some of the earliest rock ‘n' roll recordings. Jangle pop produced a number of popular hits in the 1980s and ‘90s thanks to groups like The Smiths, R.E.M., Tom Petty, and Blind Melon. \n\n- __Origins in early rock__: Single-coil electric guitars used by early rock ‘n’ roll icons, like Buddy Holly's Fender Stratocaster and George Harrison's Rickenbacker, produced a clear, bright, trebly sound that many bands sought to emulate. Popular amplifier brands like Vox and Fender also contributed to the sound.\n- __Early jangle pop__: For many rock fans, The Byrds truly began the jangle pop movement—thanks to leader Roger McGuinn's use of a Rickenbacker 12-string electric guitar. By the 1970s, Memphis indie pop act Big Star created a similar sound. In New York, Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground created a library of jangly [art rock](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/art-rock-guide) sounds that would inspire a generation.\n- __Los Angeles heyday__: In Los Angeles, the 1980s Paisley Underground scene yielded groups such as The Three O'Clock, The Bangles, Rain Parade, and Game Theory (which was technically based in northern California). All of these groups dabbled in Velvet Underground-inspired psychedelia and added hooky pop melodies. \n- __Jangle pop beyond LA__: In southeastern university towns, bands including R.E.M., The B-52s, Let's Active, The Connells, and The dB’s brought a "jingle jangle" sound to college rock radio in the ‘80s. In New Zealand, a scene known as the Dunedin Sound produced Beatles and Byrds-inspired bands like The Clean, The Bats, and The Verlaines.\n- __Jangle pop today__: As the 1990s progressed, indie and alternative rock turned away from jangle pop and toward heavier genres like [grunge](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/grunge-music-guide). In more recent years, artists such as Mac Demarco have returned to jangle pop, while iconic bands like The Bats carry on, prolonging the genre.\nJangle pop is recognizable by several key characteristics.\n\n1. __Bright, jangly guitars__: Guitar is the primary instrument in a jangle pop band. Popular models include the Rickenbacker 660 (used by Tom Petty), the Rickenbacker 330 (used by R.E.M.'s Peter Buck), the Fender Jaguar (used by The Smiths' Johnny Marr), the Fender Jazzmaster (used by The Bats' Robert Scott), and the Fender Stratocaster (used by Chris Bell of Big Star).\n2. __Minimal distortion or other effects__: Jangle pop stood out in the 1980s for its lack of effects and ornamentation. The decade saw the explosion of heavy metal, filled with distortion, phasers, and [delay pedals](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/guitar-101-what-is-a-delay-pedal-learn-how-a-delay-pedal-works-for-electric-guitar-effects). It also saw widespread embrace of synthesizers in dance pop and new wave. Yet jangle pop remained faithful to clean guitar tones and minimal use of high-tech electronics.\n3. __Pop hooks__: Jangle pop features innumerable catchy songs, as can be heard on records like *Underwater Moonlight* by The Soft Boys and *Murmur* by R.E.M. Unlike avant-garde influences like The Velvet Underground, jangle pop artists were not afraid of commercial success.\nBecome a better musician with the [MasterClass Annual Membership](https://www.masterclass.com). Gain access to exclusive video lessons taught by the world’s best, including St. Vincent, Sheila E., Timbaland, Itzhak Perlman, Christina Aguilera, Tom Morello, and more.\nJangle pop is a style of rock music characterized by bright, chiming guitars and power pop harmonies.