Blues Headlines: The Green God
Richard Barrett’s in-depth lessons in blues playing technique will make you a better player – with full audio and backing tracks
The Green God
Peter Green is a name from that classic late 60s/early 70s period that brought us so much beautiful playing – though he didn’t become as well known as his contemporaries Eric Clapton, Paul Kossoff, Jimmy Page, to name a few, possibly because of his well publicised breakdown in the early 70s. That aside, his playing and songwriting during this period inspired all who heard it as he toured with John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, replacing Eric Clapton, then the original incarnation of Fleetwood Mac, giving us classics such as Albatross, Need Your Love So Bad and Black Magic Woman – later covered by Carlos Santana, of course. His immaculate phrasing is very difficult to emulate, though there are certain ‘trademarks’ that will get us closer to the real deal.
Peter’s ’59 Gibson Les Paul had a distinctive tone when both pickups were selected. This was supposedly the result of the pickups’ magnets being out of phase with each other, cancelling out many of the lower frequencies to give a piercing, instantly identifiable tone. If you don’t fancy taking a soldering iron to your guitar, this isn’t completely necessary – we’re looking to get the flavour rather than simply copy here, but try dialling in a little extra treble (on humbuckers) to give an extra bite. The tone should be just on the edge of overdrive, with a generous splash of spring-style reverb.
You’ll see that the examples aren’t too complicated at all; it’s about developing ideas and playing them with conviction and precision. Ever the perfectionist, Peter once said that if he made a mistake, he would be “spoiled for the rest of the evening…” Maybe that’s a little harsh, but you get the idea!
Peter Green’s playing from the 60s-to-70s period continues to inspire