The Turn­around: Howlin’ Wolf andHu­bertSum­lin

TG takes a look at two iconic blues­men, with tips on phras­ing, play­ing with a slide and open tun­ings

Total Guitar - - CONTENTS -

Though Howlin’ Wolf and Hu­bert Sum­lin did record sep­a­rately on oc­ca­sion, a great deal of their recorded legacy is as band­mates. Hu­bert Sum­lin was a ‘hired hand’, though he recorded with Wolf from the mid-1950s right up to Wolf’s death in 1976. Sum­lin han­dled the main gui­tar parts on clas­sics like Dust My Broom as Wolf moved on to har­mon­ica – though he was well re­spected as a slide gui­tarist.

For ac­cu­rate pitch­ing, sim­ply po­si­tion your slide di­rectly over the frets in­stead of just be­hind. And, if you use your third or fourth fin­ger for your slide, you can care­fully mute be­hind your slide to avoid strange noises from the un­used part of the string.

Many slide play­ers favour open tun­ings be­cause these en­able you to move chords and melodic in­ter­vals around with just the slide placed across the frets. Though Wolf favoured open A (E A E A C# E) this does put strain on a stan­dard string set, so we’ve taken this down a tone to G (DGDGBD) – a tun­ing much loved by Keith Richards, Jimmy Page and Son House.

We be­gin with two ex­am­ples in Wolf’s slide style, then move to stan­dard tun­ing for Sum­lin-style blues licks. Use a bridge pickup with an ‘al­most clean’ tone.

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