You tell us what we get right – and wrong!
clapton: neW or old – What’s best?
Being an electric blues fan I was trawling YouTube the other night and came across old footage of Cream playing live, specifically the 1968 ‘farewell’ concert at the Royal Albert Hall. Clapton at this stage had a very specific style, almost certainly honed from the many live shows Cream had played over the ensuing two years. I loved it then and I love it now – in fact, it sends shivers down my spine just as the playing of Hendrix, Marvin, Beck and company do for others. Having ingested my fill of this I thought I’d contrast it with the 2005 ‘reunion’ shows and see if I could discern how Eric had changed his style over the intervening 37 years.
First of all one has to factor in Eric’s use of Strat as opposed to a Gibson ES-335 or Firebird. If he’s anything like me, he’ll need to adapt to the thinner sound or (as he did) beef it up with external (or internal) boosts. The maple neck might impact on bending and vibrato, too – his Cream vibrato was better than almost anyone’s – and it was interesting to contrast this with 2005 where it seemed a tad lighter.
I could go on, but my conclusion was that not as much had changed as I’d at first expected. He was more of a ‘shape one’ player then and he’s a lot more ‘shape four’ now; and where the note flurries were smooth and flowing they’re a bit more spiky these days.
What’s most interesting is that you can still recognise the man from just a note or two, and who could want more than that?
I had a similar awakening a month or so ago, Bryn. Someone on Facebook posted Eric playing I’m Tore Down from 1994 on a Gibson
First oF all one has to Factor in eric’s use oF a strat as opposed to a gibson es-335 or Firebird.
Les Paul. I was astonished at how much more comfortable he seemed on the guitar, how much better his licks flowed and how much more like the old days I thought it sounded. But then I quickly flipped to him playing the same song on a Strat and, you know, the differences were minimal. He was indeed using shape one more – perhaps that’s his‘go to’position on a Gibson – and, as you point out, shape four on the Strat. But there’s no doubting the DNA. Perhaps our ears are conned by what we see and then expect to hear. I remember arguing with Gary Moore that Fleetwood Mac’s Albatross was played on a Strat. “No”, he said.“I saw them on TV and Peter Green was definitely playing the Les Paul”. I said,“But listen, and you can clearly hear it’s a Strat’s neck pickup...”The following day the phone goes and it’s Gary, telling me I was right and that for years he’d let the image prevail over what he heard. Gary’s ears were amazing, so it just goes to show we can all fall foul of this.
Okay then, a sort of related question to you all: what would Jimi Hendrix sound like now? Style, guitar, amp, ability, musical genre and so on. I expect a healthy post bag on this!
Being nearly 60 years old and retired about a year ago, I was introduced to your great mag as part of a ‘late in life’ attempt to take up a new hobby and learn the electric guitar. Progress has been slow (not enough hours put in, I’m afraid) and I normally only have a go at the ‘easy’ sections in the rock or blues pages of GT. However, when the David Gilmour piece was published in issue 246, I was driven to give it a try even though most of it is well beyond my current capabilities.
That said, with regard to Example 3 on page 17, I am sort of there but I have great difficulty trying to play the last bar with the two sets of six notes. It’s not only the speed that I find difficult but what fingers to position where, so it flows nicely with the pull-offs and picking. Basically, I can’t get the rhythm of it at all.
Is there a possibility that you could do an in-depth section or video on this type of playing for us ‘dexterity challenged’ learners?
You’re at the‘can’t quite break through’stage aren’t you, Adrian? It’s a common place for learners to find themselves. But, remember, if you leave it too long from one practice session to the other you pretty much have to go back to the beginning. Regarding the two six-note licks you describe, the best thing is to break them down into four sets of triplets (say“straw-ber-ry”for each one), then learn each triplet lick separately before trying to join them all up. Each three-note phrase is a well-known blues lick that you’ll hear almost anywhere – David Gilmour simply joins them up in different orders. The first note of each phrase is on the beat so, once you’ve learnt them all, joining them back up shouldn’t be too difficult. Good idea on the video though – we’ll look into it!
Cream playing their farewell concert in 1968