Watch the Working Man in A online guitar lesson by Johnny Hiland from Ten Gallon Guitar: Intros, Outros & Turnarounds
We'll get things started with a working man blues feeling track in the key of A. Now if you picture yourself on stage and you're looking back at the drummer to figure out what y'all are going to play, he'll probably look back at you and say, "Hey man, it's just four bars of 1, I'm going to give you a four count." Now, that doesn't really say if you have pickup notes or not, or if you should play pickup notes, or how you would even do it. When the drummer goes 1, 2, 3, 4...then you need to be playing your pickup notes on 3. But, 9 times out of 10 on a working man blues feel, I just wait for that 1 to hit and just floor it.
So, when you're playing four bars of 1, your blood will start to boil because this groove is really uptempo, and you'll get to do some really fun stuff. But, only four bars of 1 doesn't give you a whole lot of time to blow a bunch of licks. So, really what I think about doing in the intro of a working man blues is to start out on the root and swing from low to high. We're going to land on our feet on the root so the singer can bring himself in.
The difference of what I hear in the intro versus what I do in the turnaround and the outro, is that the intro is basically giving a pathway for the vocalist to actually get in to the song. But then again, with a working man blues kind of feel, you're actually raising the excitement level of the crowd because you're playing something that's uptempo. So, you want to play a signature lick, and then rip a chicken pickin' lick or something to bring the singer in. And of course, when the turnaround comes, most times you can make it solo-ish as long as it fits the song, and for the outro, if I go in from a lower register to a higher register for the intro, I might take it from a higher register to a lower register to finish it off. I always love to end on either the chord that the song is in or somewhere close. Let's get started!