Watch the Blue Horizon online guitar lesson by Chris Buono from 40 Day Rhythm SWAT Camp
Your mission is to make other people shine while staying creatively involved yourself. It's an art in itself, as complex as soloing, and many of the same aesthetic rules apply: Listen to the rest of the band, learn as many approaches as you can, and don't try to play everything you know in the first chorus.
Ex. 1 gives you some easy-to-grab 7th- and 9th chord voicings on the top four strings. With no boomy bass notes or "Smoke On The Water" power-chord 5ths on the bottom, these voicings keep things sounding crispy and funky. Now isolate the tritone intervals of each chord by playing just the fourth and third string of each voicing on one pass through (Ex. 2).
In Ex. 3 you are both the call and the response. Slide into the chunky triones with a downstroke, then make a snappy upstroke (gank!) on the top two strings.
Ex. 4 begins the trip down a slippery slope that, for the careless, can land you in the bottomless pit of busyness. Tread carefully, though, and you can have a good time, entertaining yourself and the rhythm section without incurring the glare of doom from the singer or soloist of the moment. These double-stops are a key blues rhythm resource, beginning with seminal Chicago recordings like Jimmy Reed's "Bright Lights BigCity"
Examples 5, 6 and 7 show three different one-bar patterns using these double-stops. You can use these patterns on the 10th and 12th frets for the IV (D) and the V (E) chords, too. Ex. 8 shows how you can tweak Ex. 6 to convey the IV and V chord, first at the same fret as the I chord, then two frets up.
Buddy Guy's partnership with Junior Wells in the 1960s was marked bv Guy's use of bass riffs. Examples 9, 10 and 11 show three different lines like this: get hold of Junior Wells' It's My Life Baby (Vanguard), recently reissued on CD, and check out "Country Girl, " "Messin' With The Kid," and the title cut, to hear Buddy's rhythm approach in action.
You can take fragments of these bass riffs and integrate them with double-stop licks as well. Ex. 12 shows one possibility; hunt around for some others.
The Texas school of blues has its own broad vocabulary; Ex. 13 offers chords drawn from T-Bone Walker and Freddie King. .Try using the first voicing for the I chord in combination with the 9th chord voicing of Ex. 1 for the IV and V chords. Ex. 14 combines the spacious hits of Ex. 1 with a chromatic, half-stepping approach.
You can slide the top three notes of this 9th chord up two frets to a 6th voicing and then bring it back down. In Ex. 15, this move is incorporated into a swinging Texas shuffle groove. Use upstrokes for those offbeat chord hits.
More call and response: Ex. 16 combines a simple single-note major pentatonic riff with "the Freddie King chord," the finger-stretching 9th voicing King immortalized in his instrumental hit "Hideaway."
Now let's put some of these moves to work. Each of the next three examples is a twelve-bar I-IV-V blues. Here are three different ways to slice it, each one more interesting and dynamic than the usual two-string shuffle, but simple enough to keep the spotlight on whoever's up front. Ex. 17 is smooth and spacious, keeping everything within that two-fret zone by dropping that C# to C in the double-stops when you get to the IV chord.
Ex. 18 starts out like a major-key version of a Magic Sam minor vamp, combining chromatic bass notes (as Buddy Guy might) with more double-stop action on top. This time, we're going up the neck to get the lV and V chords, and taking the double-stops up to the 5 b7 pair in the second half of each phrase.
Finally, Ex. 19, in more of a Texas vein, uses that "Freddie King chord" in a call-and-response with a major pentatonic riff, but breaks the pattern to incorporate a cool, swingn' offbeat move on the IV and V chords. The more you learn about rhythm guitar, the more fun and interesting it will be to hang out with the rhythm section and provide the groove. Besides, it's your chance to give something back to society after taking all those thirty-chorus solos on "Red House."