Guitar players spend 90% of their time on stage locked into the rhythm section supporting a vocalist or other soloists. That’s why a player’s rhythm guitar skills are the key determining factor for getting and keeping a gig. It’s also why those guitarists get a lot more playing time at the jam. If you’re itching to take your rhythm guitar skills to the next level, dig deep now into this Advanced Blues Rhythm edition of Essentials from Jeff McErlain!
Robben Ford, Larry Carlton, David Grissom, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Freddie King, Billy Gibbons, Albert King, and Buddy Guy are just a few of the blues masters that might be known for their soloing skills but are all also highly respected for their rhythm guitar. Jeff will guide you through a series of rhythm guitar studies designed to equip you with many of the techniques, voicings, and rhythmic approaches of these and other legends of blues guitar.
”I've prepared ten performance studies that focus on the advanced rhythm skills that all of our favorite blues and blues rock guitar players use in their performances. We'll work on right-hand techniques like hybrid picking and muting. We’ll examine various chord inversions and the use of triads, sliding sixths, and partial chords. I’ll show you variations for each rhythm part to help you create dynamics like you would in a band setting.”
The ten performance studies cover a range of styles, tempos and feels including shuffles, funk, mambo, 12/8, country blues and Texas boogies. Jeff will first demonstrate the rhythm parts and then break them down for you.
Shake A Little - ”This etude is based upon Little Walter’s “Shake Dancer”. When I first heard this tune, it blew my mind it was so cool. The amount of cool info in the original and the number of variations on the rhythm part is a fantastic study of what can be done on a blues. I have simplified the parts a little to get you going but please listen to the original very closely and learn it. It’s one of those tunes that I love exposing people to as it is one of the best performances I can think of. It’s also a great song, so that helps!”
BBQ Boogie - ”You all know it, I’m a ZZ Top nut and here is a groove they are known for, a Texas boogie. Billy Gibbons’ rhythm guitar playing is pretty spectacular, and I have learned a ton from it. He’s well steeped in blues history and is a huge fan of the instrument and players. The first six ZZ records are required listening for any rocker. In the 80’s they went a bit astray for my tastes but made a fortune doing it and wrote some fantastic tunes in that period. The older stuff is timeless to me.”
Minor Sea - ”Here we have a basic blues in the key of C minor. A minor blues is just like a diatonic blues except each of the three chords are minor. There are variations upon that, but this is the most basic form of a minor blues. We are going to take a look at some cool triad inversions on this one, which I think will be very helpful. I was always at a loss as to what to play on open sounding blues like this one. I cannot stress enough the importance of learning your triads as both a lead and rhythm guitarist. Fortunately, the two of those overlap quite nicely.”
Take Your Time - ”The tune is a rocking blues in Gm with a distinct riff that defines the tune. The riff is not that difficult itself note-wise so you should have no problem getting it together. But… making it groove is key and the tricky part. Notice how the tune has a cool little bounce to it, we call that a swing. Swing 1/8 notes to be exact, if you play them straight, it’ll sound terrible. It is an interesting thing how much that can make or break a tune. OK, so you think the riff isn’t exciting to play? Well then as the expression goes, you're not doing it right! ;-)”
Affordable Shuffle - ”I get asked a lot about this kind of shuffle, basically what does Robben Ford do? Well, that’s a tall order but this is a good place to start, and it only scratches the surface. I think Robben is one of the most influential blues guitarists in the last 30 years, just like SRV. His voice is unmistakable, and his mixture of jazz and blues has inspired a generation, myself included. I have learned a lot from the man, and I highly suggest you check out his stuff and his courses on TrueFire.”
Yee Haa - ”I love a dirty down home groove like this one. I’d be remiss at this point if I didn't mention my friend David Grissom on this one. I first heard David play many years ago when I was teaching at The National Guitar Workshop, and he blew my mind. He’s one of the guys who made me say to myself “I’m doing this all wrong.” This groove is similar to something he would play. I can hear Billy Gibbons in his playing as well as many other classic blues and rock musicians, but his infusion of a country with a huge rock tone and sensibility is truly original.”
Someday Baby - ”There are many classic blues standards that we must know, and this is one of them. These are the changes to the verse of “Someday, After A While (You”ll Be Sorry) by Freddie King. My first exposure to this tune was on the John Mayall and The Bluesbreakers record “Hard Road” with Peter Green. Countless artists have covered it including Eric Clapton and Beth Hart. The verse is eight bars long and very important to know as an 8 bar blues is a nice change up on an evening of 12 bar blues.”
Funk E - ”Sorry about the cheesy title on this one, but hey, it’s not easy to name these things! Anyway, a funky blues is an important groove to have in your bag, and it’s deceivingly difficult. Most everyone's first thought is to overplay! I was guilty of it for years. This is why listening to people like James Brown, The Meters, and Booker T and the Mg’s has had such a huge impact on my approach. I realized that repetition is the key to a funky part. Find that part and stick with it for a while, sometimes the whole tune.”
Saw Blade - ”Here are some nice variations on the Albert King classic, Crosscut Saw. The groove is a mambo or rumba depending on who you ask. Either way, It's a nice Latin-influenced groove that's essential to know. Many of the ideas that we use here can be applied to any other blues, whether we give it the Latin flavor or not. The groove has a very specific move where we play a major chord a whole step below the chord to be resolving to.”
Shuffle E - ”Here is a classic shuffle in E with a few cool variations. This basic boogie-woogie style shuffle is quite common, and I don't think it gets as much practice time as it deserves. I am speaking from personal experience as it is the first thing you learn how to play when getting into the blues. So we tend to take it for granted that we can play it well and I am living proof that that is not usually the case!:-)”
All of the performance studies are tabbed and notated for your practice, reference and study purposes. You’ll also get Guitar Pro files so that you can play, loop and slow down the tab and notation as you work through the lessons. Plus, Jeff includes all of the backing tracks for you to work with on your own.
Grab your guitar and let’s turbocharge our blues rhythm chops with Jeff McErlain!