ACOUS­TIC BLUES

Guitarist - - Front Page - Tu­tor: Richard Barrett Gear used: Tay­lor A10e acous­tic

ThouGh Blues Head­lines looks mostly at elec­tric blues solo­ing styles, I thought it might make a nice change to turn the clock back and check out some acous­tic styles. Think Robert John­son, Rev Gary Davis, El­iz­a­beth Cot­ten – even en­com­pass­ing a coun­try or rag­time feel such as Jerry Reed or Ste­fan Gross­man. Not that these ex­am­ples are any­where near as chal­leng­ing as some of those play­ers’ finest mo­ments, but they should nev­er­the­less put you on the right road if you’re in­ter­ested in ex­plor­ing this di­rec­tion.

Us­ing a ‘stan­dard’ 12-bar blues se­quence in E as a ba­sic frame­work, the four ex­er­cises are cut from a sin­gle per­for­mance, so as to get you more com­fort­able with the tech­niques in­volved. It’s an easy job to put them back to­gether and make it a com­plete piece again.

To get a con­sis­tent tone on the record­ing, I opted for hy­brid pick­ing, giv­ing louder, hard­er­sound­ing muted bass notes com­bined with mid­dle and third fin­gers to play the ring­ing top notes. Mut­ing the bot­tom notes while let­ting the high ones ring is a key part of how play­ers such as Chet Atkins man­aged to give the il­lu­sion of two gui­tars play­ing at once. Hav­ing the pick ready also makes it eas­ier to switch to strum­ming with­out a dras­tic tone change.

Hav­ing said this, you may find you pre­fer us­ing more tra­di­tional fin­ger­pick­ing (‘clawham­mer’ tech­nique) or even a thumbpick, which would free up your in­dex fin­ger for melodic du­ties. Try­ing dif­fer­ent ap­proaches like this is an im­por­tant part of the learn­ing process. Which­ever way you choose, the thumb/pick’s job is to play the bass line, while the fin­gers play the ‘top line’. Hope you en­joy this and see you next time!

Ste­fan Gross­man’s How To Play Rag­time Gui­tar is an ed­u­ca­tion in unplugged blues play­ing

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