Buddy Guy

Buddy Guy has in­flu­enced gui­tarists from Jeff Beck to Jimi Hen­drix to John Mayer with his an­ar­chic blues guitar style. Les David­son ex­plores the mea­sure of this true blues leg­end.

Guitar Techniques - - LESSON: BLUES -

be­gan on a two-string home-made guitar, later grad­u­at­ing to a cheap Har­mony acous­tic that now re­sides in the rock and roll Hall of Fame. Although younger by sev­eral years than Al­bert King and BB King, Buddy’s name in­vari­ably comes up in any con­ver­sa­tion about the giants of elec­tric blues guitar and vo­cals.

From gig­ging around the Ba­ton rouge area, Buddy re­alised that a move north to Chicago would im­prove his ca­reer chances. Sure enough, he soon got work as a ses­sion man for the leg­endary Chess records, be­hind artists like Muddy Wa­ters, Howlin Wolf, otis Spann and Lit­tle Wal­ter. From this ses­sion work he was signed by Chess as a solo artist. Although an al­bum was re­leased in 1967 (Left My Blues In San Fran­cisco) it did lit­tle to ad­vance his ca­reer. Though al­ready a leg­end among gui­tarists it was not un­til the 80s blues re­vival that he fi­nally gained recog­ni­tion from the wider public.

Guy has made over 70 al­bums, start­ing with Hoodoo Man Blues (1965) with the Chicago based har­mon­ica player Ju­nior Wells. Prob­a­bly his best known al­bum is Damn right, I’ve Got The Blues, re­leased in 1991 on Sil­ver­tone and on which high-pro­file guests in­clud­ing Eric Clap­ton, Jeff Beck and Mark Knopfler ap­peared.

Buddy con­tin­ues to gig, record and has just re­leased a new al­bum called Born To Play Guitar with guest ap­pear­ances from Van Mor­ri­son and Joss Stone. He was in­ducted into the rock and roll Hall of Fame in March 2005 by eric Clap­ton who re­called see­ing Buddy play his guitar be­hind his head and with his teeth as far back as 1965! Have a lis­ten to Jimi Hen­drix’s elec­tric Lady­land al­bum to hear Jimi’s take on some of Buddy Guy’s licks – he too, was a huge fan.

Buddy is an ex­pres­sive player whose speedy flur­ries and big string bends mark out his style. Such is the in­ten­sity of his play­ing that ac­cu­racy some­times takes a back seat to pure blues feel. Buddy is quoted as say­ing he has used any­where from 10 to 12 gauge strings, some­times also tun­ing down to eb.

our two ex­am­ples are both in stan­dard tun­ing and played with a pick (Buddy uses pick or fin­gers). When play­ing the licks go for at­ti­tude over ac­cu­racy – the lat­ter will come with prac­tise but the for­mer is of­ten part of the show­man­ship so im­por­tant in this ex­cit­ing genre. Have fun!

Buddy Guy with reg­u­la­tion polka-dot Strat and strap

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