The MLP Blues Guitar Course

Discussion in 'Guitar Lessons' started by sliding tom, Feb 16, 2009.

  1. CARNAGE222

    CARNAGE222 Senior Member

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    Wow! All I can say is THANK YOU Sliding Tom. I'm reading through this thread and not understanding much at all. I makes me realize how much better of a guitartist, no a better musician, I could be if I took some lessons. I've pretty much just noodled around on my own for the last 25 years. I'm going to keep reading and reading and reading over this thread (and some other threads here) until I start to understand it more. Thanks again!
     
  2. sliding tom

    sliding tom Senior Member

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    A few notes on solo playing

    First of all… I don’t like the concept of “soloing” much. Are you playing “solo”? Solo means alone. But when you’re playing a solo while playing with a band you’re not playing alone - you’re playing with a couple of other musicians, either backing you up or better still: playing with you. I’d rather like to see it as an instrumental section in a song where one instrument ( the guitar in your case) just takes the lead voice. So consider your “musical backup” not just as something that goes on in the background but as a springboard for what you are going to play. A good band will not only keep the rhythm and the chord changes going behind you but will listen to what you are doing and where you might be heading and give you inspiration for your lead voice. The secret term is (whispers): interplay! This can be more of a one-way ticket as in the way B.B.King for example plays off of the horn arrangements that can’t be adjusted much to what he plays during a performance as much as a multiple exchange thing as in classic Chicago ensemble blues playing like the style Muddy Waters developed with his band.

    When playing solos, remember that blues is about telling a story and to convey feelings. Don’t play too many notes, don’t show off, leave space (space is music, too - just in case you don’t know this already). If you can sing the lines you are playing then you’re on your way! By leaving space you’ll give your notes time to breathe and have more impact. Try to tell a story with what you are playing even if there’s no singing and no lyrics. Think about something, something positive or something that bothers you but reflect upon it. Make a statement and let it sink in. Give yourself and your audience the chance to enjoy the couple of (hopefully well placed) notes you’re playing. And forget everything about that old cliché about blues being all sad and some guy is mourning about his “baby left him this morning” etc. etc.
    It’s about realising your situation and telling it to people who can feel the same as you and through that come out as a stronger person - no self pity here!.

    To get your mouths watered, some classic stuff:



    [ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V1xvx0UHa0A]YouTube - T-Bone Walker- Don't Throw Your Love On Me So Strong[/ame]


    [ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tBWcSc3nPow]YouTube - B.B. King on Ralph Gleason's Jazz Casual 1968 Part 1[/ame]


    [ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O5URVbh3KX8&feature=related]YouTube - B.B. King on Ralph Gleason's Jazz Casual 1968 Part 2[/ame]

    Enjoy! :)
     
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  3. sliding tom

    sliding tom Senior Member

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    Are you still with me? :hmm:
     
  4. sliding tom

    sliding tom Senior Member

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    We’ll start off with the old and well worn but time proven minor pentatonic scale that might be familiar to most of you. A scale is a group of notes that fits a certain key and as such it should be seen: don’t just play up and down the scale (the german word “Tonleiter” = noteladder is even more ugly and misleading as to how to use it), instead make your succession of notes melodic - for example by skipping degrees of the scale (this applies to all lead playing, not only in blues). For inspiration, listen to not only the classic blues guitarists but also singers. It may sound kind of weird that we use minor melody against major harmony in blues but that’s exactly what gives it the ” blues” sound ( + the dominant 7 in chords). I’m sure you’ve heard about “blue notes” and the most important of these is the ambivalence of the 3rd - which seems to lie somewhere in between the minor and the major 3rd. Guitarists can bend the minor 3rd up to achieve an “in between” pitch and harp (harmonica, that is) players bend down the major 3rd. Listen to blues piano players who are not able to do this and you’ll hear them playing a trill between the two keys (minor an major 3rd) to achieve a similar effect.
    Enough said. Here’s the most widely used fingerboard pattern used to play a minor pentatonic scale in blues and rock music. For convenience let’s stay in the key of A. This pattern is directly related to the shape of an open G chord (I mention this because we will encounter other patterns along the way which are directly related to other basic chord shapes). The yellow dots are your root note (A) in three different positions.



    [​IMG]



    I will not show you how to play any licks because I want you to find your own little melodies.
    (depending how long this course will run and into how much detail we’ll go and depending on how I will be able to do this in terms of incorporating material like tab into this I might do that later).
    If you are insecure how to start - put on a backing track or a blues CD (or record your own backing using what we’ve covered so far) and just start with your root on the D string and explore the notes around it and listen! Some notes and intervals will sound better than others. Just listen!
    There’s a lot you can do with just these 5 different notes, believe me!

    Off course, this pattern can be shifted to any other position on the fretboard for other keys.
     
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  5. sliding tom

    sliding tom Senior Member

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    So we have the basic minor pentatonic down, let’s introduce some bends. Bends shouldn’t be done at random but to achieve a certain pitch - basically that would be a “half step” bend - a half step (or semitone for our British friends :)) above your starting note or a “full step” bend - a whole step above. Here’s your first bends, on the G and b strings respectively
    ( the red dots):



    [​IMG]



    Bend the G string either a half step (4th into b 5th)or a full step ( into the perfect 5th) and the b string a full step (into root). Execute a gradual and controlled bend - this will take some practice until you get a feel for it and be able to hit the desired pitch. To practice your bends and control the pitch, hit the same note on the higher string for comparison (like if you were tuning your guitar). This will also yield a cool double stop, by the way: bending a string to a certain pitch and then playing the same (or a different) note on the adjacent higher string.
    Bend the G string 7th fret a full step and then play the b string on the 5th fret - if you do this in rapid succession: voila! Chuck Berry! :)
    Bend the b string a full step and then hit the e string on the 8th fret - another very bluesy sound!

    Let’s add one more bend and that is the note on the 8th fret e string.


    [​IMG]



    You can bend it it a half step, a full step or even three half steps and more. Experiment with all the variations.

    That's what this guy uses a lot in his playing plus all kinds of microtones (that's the pitches in between those we are used to by way of fretting notes:

    [ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h5dpp2iCRwM]YouTube - Albert King - Blues Power[/ame]
     
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  6. tintin

    tintin Senior Member

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    Awesome stuff, Tom. This weekend I spent a fair amount of time playing with variations or 12 Bar Blues, shuffles, etc. Terrific fundamentals. Please keep it coming!
     
  7. fatb0t

    fatb0t Senior Member

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    Sweet, thanks for the lessons... I look forward to more advanced ones :)
     
  8. River

    River Senior Member

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    You bet!
     
  9. sliding tom

    sliding tom Senior Member

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    Hi, back again. Seems like I have omitted a part that should have appeared earlier after post # 10. Since nobody asked, I think you all found your dominant 7 chord shapes. :D Anyway:

    As you (hopefully) will now be able to find your three chords for a given key you want to play in and have one or more versions of the 12 bar progressions firmly planted in your system, let’s talk about chord voicings -chord shapes, that is -that sound good in blues.
    We will stay in the key of A for the following chord shapes - it’s a comfortable position on the neck for most of us.
    Let’s start with these chord shapes - they sound pretty good in most standard tunes:

    For the tonic (I chord) we will use the E type shape, like your basic open E chord but moved to the 5th position (fret) as a bar chord and take the 3rd finger of the D string so we will get an A 7 chord.

    [​IMG]


    For the IV chord we’ll use the open position C7 shape that most will be familiar with moved to the 5 th postion:

    [​IMG]

    The same shape moved up two frets will make our V chord:


    [​IMG]



    Get acquainted with these chord shapes and voicings in several different positions on your fingerboard so you can easily finger them comfortably for different keys.
     
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  10. Sony Oengui

    Sony Oengui Senior Member

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    Learned something new today... Thanks! Do you think you could eventually go into 9th or even "higher ranked" chords and when/how to use them?
     
  11. hank49

    hank49 Senior Member

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    How and when does the 2nd and 3rd chords change to where the B string is played on the same fret as the key not (in this case 5th and 7th frets)? Both are very bluesy sounding chords. I was taught to use the 5th fret years ago but lately am playing the B string two frets down from the key note. (SRV seems to use this chord more)
     
  12. sliding tom

    sliding tom Senior Member

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    Coming soon in this theater! :D
     
  13. sliding tom

    sliding tom Senior Member

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    I'm not exactly sure if I understand you right but think that you are talking about 9th chords. Those will be covered here very soon. :)
     
  14. sliding tom

    sliding tom Senior Member

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    Asking for a little patience from you all - I'm deeply involved with some personal matters right now, so I have little time to work on the next parts. Might be a little slow in the next couple weeks. O.K.? :rolleyes: It's not over! :)
     
  15. River

    River Senior Member

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    Take your time, Tom. Good things come to them that waits.
     
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  16. sliding tom

    sliding tom Senior Member

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    Thanks, river!
     
  17. sliding tom

    sliding tom Senior Member

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    Hopefully everybody who has followed me so far is quite comfortable with the pentatonic scale in its basic position by now. There are several ways to explore the various possibilities of blues guitar lead playing. I will stick to the pentatonic for a while and add notes to it as we progress, because it’s a good way of building up from a simple and easily understandable basis and will introduce a more sophisticated way of looking at things later in the proceedings.
    This time we will add two notes to the pentatonic scale: the 6 and the 9. They are positioned on the same fret (7 th in the key of A) on adjacent strings b and e. (red dots)
    Here’s the graph:


    [​IMG]



    This is T.Bone Walker territory. He rarely ventured outside of this “box” except for some cool chord arpeggios to spice up his solos. He also didn’t bend his strings as much as we are used to hear and play today. When bending, he mostly bent the 4 (7 th fret G string) a half step up into the b5, but he incorporated the 6 and 9 a lot, giving his lead playing a very cool “uptown” sound.
    T.Bone is the “father” of electric blues guitar, comparable to Charlie Christian in the jazz world. The influence of both men can still be heard in the playing of modern-day guitarists in their respective musical fields.

    Here’s a cool clip from 1966:


    [ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pFqK6PBq-hA]YouTube - T-Bone Walker w/ Jazz At The Philharmonic - Live in UK 1966[/ame]


    In our next installment I'll show you what chord voicings sound best with this style of playing, meanwhile the dominant 7th chords above work great, too.
     
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  18. fatb0t

    fatb0t Senior Member

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    Cool vid, I like his usage sliding a min7dim5 in between the 7th chords. I never listened to this cat very much, but perhaps I should.
     
  19. mikemack

    mikemack Senior Member

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    Great thread:thumb:
     
  20. sliding tom

    sliding tom Senior Member

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