Guitar World

“STATESBORO BLUES”

The Allman Brothers Band

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ONE OF THE Allman Brothers’ most celebrated live performanc­es, from NYC’s Fillmore East theater in March 1971, this classic recording features the band’s original guitarists Duane Allman and Dickey Betts in one of their finest moments together, stretching out with perfectly tasteful solos and Duane playing soulful slide licks in open E tuning. Both guitarists had achieved tonal nirvana that night, with their Gibson SG and Les Paul axes plugged straight into cranked Marshall “plexi” tube amps.

For most of his slide licks throughout the song, Duane employed the tried-and-true open-tuning approach of playing around a single-fret chord shape, specifical­ly sticking primarily around the D shape at the 10th fret and adding melodic non-chord tones two frets below, swooping down to the 8th fret and back in a sort of zig-zagging manner. In his second 12-bar solo chorus (see section E), the guitarist took this same approach up an octave, to the 22nd and 20th frets, respective­ly, building up to an exciting high-pitched musical climax. It’s interestin­g to note that Duane chose to stick with these shapes whenever the progressio­n moved to the IV (four) chord, G, and the V (five) chord, A, as opposed to “chasing” these chords down to the 5th and 7th frets, respective­ly, or up to the 15th and 17th frets, which would be the more obvious approach that a less seasoned slide player would take, so as to “play it safe” with their note choices.

Dickey’s solo, beginning at section G, features the guitarist starting out with his signature melodic approach, using notes from the D major pentatonic scale and masterfull­y bending them to sweetly agree with the chords. Notice how, when the progressio­n moves to the IV chord (G) in bar 85, Betts deliberate­ly limits his bend from E up to only a half step (to F),

F# so as to not play an over that chord, which would be a clashing major 7th. For his second chorus (see section H), Dickey gets more “serious,” moving into a higher register (as Duane had done in his solo) and now drawing notes primarily from the parallel D minor pentatonic scale, bending up to and shaking the high A note with great passion.

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