Guitar Techniques - - CONTENTS - Neville Marten, Edi­tor

DO PEO­PLE STILL get to­gether and jam? When I was in my early 20s my best mate and I, who were of a very sim­i­lar stan­dard as gui­tarists - used to sit in his living room and jam for hours. He had a Gibson SG and I had a red ES-335. We both went through his 1963 Vox AC30 at flat-out vol­ume and had a whale of a time. We learnt loads from each other and got bet­ter nat­u­rally, sim­ply through play­ing for hours. His sis­ter went out with a bril­liant sax­o­phone player and he would of­ten join in; or he would play flute and I’d mess around with chords. Again, learn­ing so much.

Of course jamming had orig­i­nally been a jazz thing, where in the clubs the stan­dard reper­toire would be elon­gated with so­los from all the par­tic­i­pants. I’m not sure if the same was true of the Chicago blues clubs, but I get the feel­ing that was more about the singer or band leader (Muddy, Wolf etc) and soloists had their set spot in the song.

In rock, jamming started si­mul­ta­ne­ously on each side of the At­lantic. Here it was Cream who, as leg­end will tell us, had so few orig­i­nal num­bers that they sim­ply turned blues tunes into huge jams. Of course they had the in­stru­men­tal­ists to carry it off and their au­di­ences loved it.

On the other side of the pond it was bands like The All­man Broth­ers and Grate­ful Dead. But while Cream’s jamming came about through ne­ces­sity, th­ese guys just loved to play, and their whole point was to keep the mu­sic spon­ta­neous. What’s more, the jamming scene has never re­ally stopped over there (wit­ness The Black Crowes, Blues Trav­eller etc), whereas in Bri­tain we tend to like things more suc­cinct - the three-minute pop song for­mat of punk, indie, new wave, Britrock and so on.

So per­haps it’s time to get jamming back on the agenda. Why don’t you make it a plan to get to­gether with a mate, or a few mates, lose your in­hi­bi­tions and jam over a few sim­ple ideas - who knows, you might form a band, or write a few songs.

To help you on your way our res­i­dent prof, Mil­ton Mer­mikides has writ­ten a fas­ci­nat­ing piece on the US jam bands, with a load of stylis­ti­cally ac­cu­rate ex­am­ples to get you started. So have fun, and keep jamming!

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