Watch the Philly Smooth online guitar lesson by James Hogan from Essentials: Soul Rhythm Guitar
"Philly Smooth" takes us back to the smooth sounds and production found at Philadelphia International Records and Sigma Sound Studios in the 1970's. Studio producers Gamble & Huff along with Thom Bell in particular helped shape the smooth sound of "Philly soul". Like Detroit, Memphis and Muscle Shoals, P.I.R. had their own stable of studio musicians known as M.F.S.B. (Mother, Father, Sister, Brother) to call on. M.F.S.B. played a huge part in the development of the Philly Soul sound. Their playing backed such acts as The Ojays, Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes, Billy Paul, Patti Labelle, The Stylistics, and The Spinners among others. Norman Harris, Roland Chambers, Bobby Eli, and T.J. Tindall were some of the go to guitarists at Sigma Sound. Philadelphia International churned out dozens of gold records.
For this example, we'll once again use a clean tone. The chord progression here is a bit more sophisticated than ones we've seen in other examples. Gamble, Huff, and Bell used lush and beautiful harmony in their arrangements, which is a trademark of the Philly style. Note: This example sounds best to my ears when using a pick with a fat clean tone. Add some reverb to smooth things out.