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Guitar Techniques - - CONTENTS - Bryn Thomas Adrian, Torquay

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!

tricKY triplets

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

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