Acous­tic

This month Stu­art Ryan shows how to nail the acous­tic gui­tar style of The Jam’s iconic front­man and per­ren­nial solo artist, the great Paul Weller.

Guitar Techniques - - CONTENTS -

Stu­art Ryan re­veals the gen­tler, acous­tic side of revered singer-song-witer-gui­tarist, Paul Weller.

I re­dis­cov­ered my gui­tar in the 1990s.

Paul Weller

Although syn­ony­mous with his spiky, post-mod elec­tric gui­tar stylings with the Jam, acous­tic gui­tar has al­ways fea­tured strongly in Paul weller’s play­ing - a track like 1980’s that’s En­ter­tain­ment fea­tured a driv­ing acous­tic at the fore, though this served as stark con­trast to much of the band’s other out­put at the time. it was when he started to de­velop his solo ca­reer that the acous­tic be­came a more prom­i­nent voice in weller’s writ­ing. his 1993 al­bum wild wood is pre­dom­i­nantly elec­tric but fea­tures sev­eral great acous­tic mo­ments from the driv­ing, riff-based All the Pic­tures on the wall to the strum­ming on hung up. how­ever, it’s the epony­mous ti­tle track that’s prob­a­bly the most fa­mous cut from the al­bum. wild wood is a great ex­am­ple of how weller will set up a sim­ple strummed or fin­ger­picked chord pro­gres­sion but add some un­ex­pected twists – in the case of wild wood it’s his in­no­va­tive use of the mi­nor 7b5 chord, not a de­vice you hear in main­stream writ­ing ev­ery day. you can also hear this in English Rose where a sim­ple three-chord pro­gres­sion is made unique by the in­clu­sion of a mi­nor 7b5.

For this study we see how a stan­dard chord pro­gres­sion can be given some Paul weller­style colour by chang­ing some of the chords from what your ear may be an­tic­i­pat­ing. Although weller uses con­ven­tional strum­ming and fin­ger­style tech­niques he is a ‘thumb over the neck’ player when it comes to fret­ting some chords. Although i haven’t fo­cused on this here, it’s some­thing that’s worth get­ting into your play­ing as it fa­cil­i­tates some chords that would be much harder to ex­e­cute oth­er­wise.

weller of­ten starts with con­ven­tional ma­jor or mi­nor chords and then re­leases or moves some of his fin­gers to get a dif­fer­ent voic­ing which pro­vides colour. you can hear this ef­fect in wild wood as he starts off with a con­ven­tional B mi­nor chord but then re­leases the fret­ted notes on the sec­ond and third strings for a more in­ter­est­ing Bm7­sus2. if you find your­self writ­ing this way I wouldn’t get too hung up on the the­ory (chords can end up hav­ing very com­pli­cated names that con­fuse the is­sue), just make a shape you know and add or re­move fin­gers un­til you hear the de­sired re­sult; it’s a lib­er­at­ing way of writ­ing.

Be­yond that you’ll also hear weller use the stan­dard ma­jor and mi­nor 7th chords – th­ese will also add colour to your writ­ing but the iV chord as a mi­nor 7b5 is the one that re­ally stands out (for the­ory buffs you can also view this as a V chord in which case it’s act­ing as the de­cid­edly jazzy 7#5b9 – see what hap­pens if you use that down at the folk club!).

NeXT MoNTH: Stu­art tack­les the acous­tic blues style of Rory Gal­lagher

Paul Weller: in acous­tic mode on Gibson J-45

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