Carl verheyen part 2
Join Milton Mermikides as he welcomes you to the second part of Carl Verheyen’s sensational video masterclass - watch the man improvise and be amazed.
Check out Carl’s totally improvised piece on video - and prepare to be amazed!
CARL IS One of the most respected guitarists in the industry with a 40-year playing career playing countless sessions on albums (with artists as divere as Dolly Parton and Allan Holdsworth), innumerable film scores, as part of prog band Procol Harum and an active solo career. What sets Carl apart is his stylistic mastery, melodic sensibility, educational generosity and, as John Jorgensen puts it, his ‘transparent technique’ in that his technical facility is only ever used in service of the track. no wonder that he’s still so much in demand and receives unadulterated praise from the lofty likes of Robben Ford, Joe Bonamassa, Steve Lukather, Jenifer Batten, Robben Ford, Brad Praisley, Steve Morse, Scott Henderson and Albert Lee.
So it was a great pleasure to have Carl visit the Guitar Techniques studio during his massive European tour, and in a couple of hours he had given us enough great material for several video lessons.
For this article, I’ve transcribed Carl’s improvisation over Jay’s Juke Joint, a minor key track by Jason Sidwell. His solo demonstrates a fluent improvisational knack, stylistic versatility (including pop, country, blues, jazz and Latin influences) and a command over inventive chord voicing and Pentatonic melodicism. In a few short minutes Carl delivers a masterclass in minor chords and gives any guitarist ample material to improve their playing.
When presented with a track with a series of minor chords, many guitarists might commit to single-line soloing (perhaps based on the minor Pentatonic of the key), or to familiar chord voicing strumming. However, Carl’s playing is a perfect fusion of effective lead ideas, inventive chord-melody rhythmic patterns and a mature and paced melodic sensibility. There’s much to learn here but here’s a rundown of the main characteristics...
Carl effortlessly and intuitively switches between pick and hybrid style (and even Wes Montgomery-style thumb technique) so that all manner of double-stops, spaced chords, single-line fluency and conventional strumming technique are at his disposal. This allows a far, far greater range of expression during performance.
When faced with a single chord for harmonic context (say Em7), rather than having a couple of fixed chord shapes, Carl has at his disposal a host of associated small voicings, allowing a blended chord-melody approach with a satisfying harmonic fluidity. This is evident throughout the track, but in just bars 13-16, 10 different voicings for Em7 are used, which makes it an excellent passage to
study in detail. There’s also associated chordal material for each of the other two chords, turning this apparently simple three-chord track into a true study.
In Carl’s hands the familiar E minor Pentatonic or Blues scale is given an inventive sophistication with the use of the 9th (F#) and occasional Dorian implication with the major 6th (C#) (see bar 35). The familiar Pentatonic shapes are also revitalised with the use of wide intervallic string skipping (bars 19-20, bar 66), and fast position changes using open strings (bar 62) and slides (bars 26-27).
Finally, Carl’s playing here is characterised
carl has worked with an amazing list of musicians in a hugely diverse range of styles.
by great rhythmic sophistication; there’s a lot of syncopation on the semiquaver level which draws in stylistic reference from jazz (bars 31-32), funk-rock (bar 26), folk (bars 46-47) to Latin rhythms (bars 55-57).
This is a really rewarding solo to learn, not only to build one’s vocabulary, but also as a source of instruction and inspiration of how inventive one can be in a relatively simple harmonic context.
Carl Verheyen: this month’s solo is a real masterclass