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  1. #2131
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    Quote Originally Posted by destinytot View Post
    Posting to plug the news below (gratitude and admiration are my only affiliation), but I'll take the liberty of adding a word to the wise: Peter teaches how to use both hands.
    That was my big "aha" thing. Not the right hand, which if you are just DWPS with rest strokes and using the mechanically hyper-efficient motion that Benson picking allows is not that crazy difficult to realize. But the left hand. Once I took a lesson from JC Stylles and he showed how easily all the bebop scales fall under this technique it started to make a lot more sense. I still struggle with how to execute arpeggio patterns without relying on sweep picking, but any line with step-wise motion is just easy as sin to work up to speed now.

    Things that I think are important:

    - Tuck Andress was impressed because George had the best feel with speed. There are a ton of other guys with speed. None of them have the feel.
    - Benson himself said that he was "not a technical player". That Martino and McLaughlin could do things he "wished he could do", and that he learned picking the "wrong way". This to me suggests that his picking style doesn't magically allow one to play whatever shred pattern 90% of the guys on the internet who are interested in "Benson picking" are really eager to perform. It's suited for jazz, and that vocabulary. Henry Johnson talks about this on a forum thread somewhere on the internet, too.
    - Benson can play most of his vocabulary with his thumb. He's an admirer of Wes almost to the extent of being a disciple.

    This stuff all to me says downward pick slanting with a system of fingering conventions to not require anything trickier than that. Seems to work for me 90% of the time, but then I get frustrated like christian talks about that I can't play whatever other pattern I try that uses some kind of weird cross-picking and go back to fucking around with Troy Grady's videos and alternate picking in different positions.

    I'd probably be a way better player if I just ignored everything else and focused on (1) Benson pick grip, (2) DWPS patterns, and (3) bebop scales, but whattryagonnado.

  2. Quote Originally Posted by ecj View Post
    I'd probably be a way better player if I just ignored everything else and focused on (1) Benson pick grip, (2) DWPS patterns, and (3) bebop scales, but whattryagonnado.
    Couldn't agree more.
    It's easy to get lured into the shred thing and I think it's impossible NOT to when you are at a certain age.

    The closest Benson ever got to shredding was in the "Take Five Period" or just after that. It was impressive for a minute but then.......even he stopped doing it.
    In his really early days he had great speed and WAS including bop language into a lot of his playing. IMO he is the only bop guitar player to ever do that. I'm talking about the early albums.

    He didn't cross strings in an arpeggio fashion but rather he invented a bunch of startling sweep licks that he used to great effect. But they were like "one of" He never used them over and over.
    George has always had taste and always plays the great notes.

    Regardless of his great technique, the one thing that separates GB from everyone else, is his choice of notes. George has great lines, and that's why people (including non guitar players) love him.
    Charlie Parker also had great lines. When you hear a great bop line it kind of stops you in your tracks. It's a beautiful thing.

    But to your point......a lot of the cross picking type lines that bop requires cannot be executed in a shred fashion.
    Oberg can do it .....but.....well........ it doesn't work for me anyway. He is the most technical player with great chops but I'm never drawn to listen to him.
    You can shred bop scales....sure. That doesn't sound like bop to me.
    All shredders do is find what is comfortable for them and work like hell on it. I did it for years. It's not that hard, you just have to be fanatical.

    As soon as you start crossing strings and try to articulate the more harmonically demanding ideas that bop requires you are going to have to either sweep or come up with a tech that hasn't been invented yet.

    When you do come up with that tech I can guarantee you one result.
    You will bore the pants off everyone, bar a few beginner guitar players.

  3. #2133
    Quote Originally Posted by ecj View Post
    That was my big "aha" thing. Not the right hand, which if you are just DWPS with rest strokes and using the mechanically hyper-efficient motion that Benson picking allows is not that crazy difficult to realize. But the left hand. Once I took a lesson from JC Stylles and he showed how easily all the bebop scales fall under this technique it started to make a lot more sense. I still struggle with how to execute arpeggio patterns without relying on sweep picking, but any line with step-wise motion is just easy as sin to work up to speed now.
    i'd love to hear more about your approach. could you give an example on how you negotiate a descenting bebop-scale? do you play 2 or 3 nps? do you attack every note? do you play economy up, alternate down?

    these days i mostly seem to employ the okazaki approach, i.e. i do play consecutive upstrokes when changing strings downward. but i feel i need to formalize my approach even more. still a lot of gaps that need to be filled, especially with regard to slides and hammers/pulls.

    i had a pretty intense and slightly frustrating CD recording session, which seems to make it necessary for me to re-evaluate.

  4. #2134
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    Last edited by destinytot; 08-12-2017 at 02:38 AM.
    "Each heart vibrates to that iron string."
    Ralph Waldo Emerson
    (who obviously played in Carl Kress tuning)

  5. #2135
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    Interesting stuff - I'll just chip in that as a gypsy picker with similar limitations, I find that
    1) bop scales in descent are very natural for me (and anything chromatic stuff really)
    2) it's helpful for me to focus on articulating upstrokes
    3) I don't actually like the sound of too many unadulterated bop scales like that - sounds a bit 'downbeaty'

  6. #2136
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    Oh also I incorporate some legato in my left hand to smooth things out and it is also mechanically helpful too. Is this a part of GB style picking?

  7. #2137
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    Quote Originally Posted by djg View Post
    i'd love to hear more about your approach. could you give an example on how you negotiate a descenting bebop-scale? do you play 2 or 3 nps? do you attack every note? do you play economy up, alternate down?
    Basically what I was shown by JC Stylles is to use a left hand position that covers 5 possible frets. You have your 1-4 home base, then stretch back with the 1st finger as needed. He didn't teach using rest strokes, but if you're using R-hand rest downstrokes with this basic approach you pretty quickly realize that you can play 8th note lines forever in whatever direction with however many notes on each string as long as you use pull-offs to allow yourself to always switch strings on a downstroke.

    JC Stylles was kind of a weird case when I started studying my Skype lessons with him because he also starts a lot of lines with an upstroke. Not sure what else to say about that, but there it is.

    I haven't seen Benson do his thing up close and personal, and there are definitely some things he does that I can't figure out, but if you just do this you can get pretty close to the sound of his super fast lines if you also include some of the sweeps like what Philco was talking about. A very "Bensonish" thing to do in my eyes is sweep up a 7th arpeggio and then use the chromatic passing tones of the bebop scale as you rip back down.

    Benson's speedy vocabulary is super chromatic when descending and almost never has wide interval leaps on the descent, which really makes sense with this technique when you start thinking about it logistically. That's basically what Montgomery is doing, although he has (imo) even better note choices. I think if you listen to that touplets lick from Off the Top that is so insane and see how chromatic it is, that's a great example.

    So, yes, basically the gypsy thing, and then Benson also has those insanely weird octave displacement things he does that I think use a lot of sweeping with upward pick slanting. I can only do a few of those so I wouldn't make any claims about how the hell he does it. Sounds bad ass, though.

    I also think on this thread you'll see people pretty consistently getting distracted by watching what's happening when people are playing slower. In my opinion as an amateur or "semi-pro" player, you can work literally any ridiculous fingering or picking system up to playing around 8th notes at 280. It's once you get up above 300 that you have to have a more intentional system to survive on a tune.

    I've been trying to rebuild a lot of my basic vocabulary to have a higher ceiling, because nothing sucks more than getting clowned by some sax player on Cherokee. One of my favorite things about listening to Benson is when he shreds the sax/piano/organ player. You just never hear a guitar player that can do that.

    Also, everything Philco said about bop language x 1,000. Even Benson can't compare to those ridiculous Parker lines. Wish you could do that on guitar, but, again, like Philco says no one will care. That's why I spend at least twice as much time practicing my singing as I do my picking.

  8. #2138
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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    Oh also I incorporate some legato in my left hand to smooth things out and it is also mechanically helpful too. Is this a part of GB style picking?
    Yes, I think it's absolutely essential and used in a similar way. When you have 3 notes to play on a string on a descending line you pick 2 and pull off just like the gypsy pickers.

    I think I saw it from Henry Johnson but might be misattributing. He said whenever you can't figure out the right way to articulate a line to have a good jazz style, just put your pick down and figure out how to play it with your thumb, then do that pattern with your pick.

  9. #2139
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    Sorry, one more post in this little drive by then I gotta run.

    Check out this and then the rest of the clips from this set:



    It's Oberg and Mike Reinhardt jamming on a few things. To me, this set shows the power of the rest stroke thing.

    Oberg has got to be the most crazy technical alt-picker jazzer out there. But, to me, Reinhardt's sound is much stronger and more confident here. I think it's the rest strokes. His feel is more relaxed (even if it's a European feel and not true swing/funky like Benson). To be Oberg sounds less locked into the groove.

    To me, anyway, the biggest realization for me in playing over the last several years is that all of the players whose feel and time I admire the most are rest stroke pickers. Django, Christian, Montgomery, Pass, Benson. They all used rest strokes. I think the rest strokes help you lock in a more confident time. Alt-picking tends to sound stiffer and less fluid to me. There are crazy amazing alt-pickers, even in straight jazz like Pat Martino, but they always sound stiff to me.

    Your mileage may vary, but I think if you don't hear and feel that then spending your time on Benson picking is probably a waste and you're better off focusing on learning what Troy Grady is teaching.

  10. #2140
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    Quote Originally Posted by ecj View Post
    Yes, I think it's absolutely essential and used in a similar way. When you have 3 notes to play on a string on a descending line you pick 2 and pull off just like the gypsy pickers.

    I think I saw it from Henry Johnson but might be misattributing. He said whenever you can't figure out the right way to articulate a line to have a good jazz style, just put your pick down and figure out how to play it with your thumb, then do that pattern with your pick.
    Yeah I dig that bit of advice. Sometimes when I can't be bothered to dig out a pick i just practice with my thumb, and it's always quite fun to work out how to play stuff.

  11. GB is using lots of slurs and pull offs in the early recording. It's complicated stuff and hard to emulate. Very exciting.

    The diatonic or more modal stuff that came later allowed him to use more scalar lines. Lots of simple pentatonic stuff as well. Much easier to blast through that style. Of course, there is always the blues element present

    There are very few changes to worry about in his later stuff......no fast moving 11 V 1's to navigate.
    It's really only the early GB recordings where he had to make some challenging changes at speed. In fact, it's hard to find recordings of him navigating challenging changes. There aren't that many.

    He stopped doing that well before the big success of Breezin.
    Then he was free to use his amazing chops on fairly straight forward changes.....or no changes at all.
    That's when the shred came into it. A lot more picking and less slurring.

    My theory is: Less bop changes = easier to play.
    I mean......look at what Pasquale Grasso has to do to play in the early bop style...... what both his hands have to do to emulate that sound.
    Some outrageously, seriously demanding stuff.
    That's a life's work right there.

  12. #2142
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    Benson Picking technique on Gibson L5 Wesmo

    Quote Originally Posted by Philco View Post
    GB is using lots of slurs and pull offs in the early recording. It's complicated stuff and hard to emulate. Very exciting.

    The diatonic or more modal stuff that came later allowed him to use more scalar lines. Lots of simple pentatonic stuff as well. Much easier to blast through that style. Of course, there is always the blues element present

    There are very few changes to worry about in his later stuff......no fast moving 11 V 1's to navigate.
    It's really only the early GB recordings where he had to make some challenging changes at speed. In fact, it's hard to find recordings of him navigating challenging changes. There aren't that many.

    He stopped doing that well before the big success of Breezin.
    Then he was free to use his amazing chops on fairly straight forward changes.....or no changes at all.
    That's when the shred came into it. A lot more picking and less slurring.

    My theory is: Less bop changes = easier to play.
    I mean......look at what Pasquale Grasso has to do to play in the early bop style...... what both his hands have to do to emulate that sound.
    Some outrageously, seriously demanding stuff.
    That's a life's work right there.
    Yeah but PG is a student of Barry Harris, and playing a bop tune using that approach is more like playing on vamp changes than you'd perhaps think.... PG plays bebop lines which express interesting harmony but the underlying basis is often surprisingly simple.

    It's like strip down and re-embellish. A Barry student would think of a simple I-IV-V blues for example, but embellishing using internalised scale devices and substitutes so you hear all kinds of clever harmony which you can tell them about afterwards :-) these things are more in the ears and fingers than in the theoretic brain so to speak....

    Using this approach, i don't find bop changes hard at all provided a spend a hour or two playing through the tune to familiarise myself with the nooks and crannies.

    TBF moments notice or old milestones are a bit more challenging but BH doesn't really teach these tunes AFAIK.

    To my ears GB plays bop on modal vamps - that's a different thing to playing modal stuff on bop tunes (which is what these modernists like to do haha.)
    Last edited by christianm77; 08-13-2017 at 03:06 PM.

  13. Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    Yeah but PG is a student of Barry Harris, and playing a bop tune using that approach is more like playing on vamp changes than you'd perhaps think.... PG plays bebop lines which express interesting harmony but the underlying basis is often surprisingly simple.

    It's like strip down and re-embellish. A Barry student would think of a simple I-IV-V blues for example, but embellishing using internalised scale devices and substitutes so you hear all kinds of clever harmony which you can tell them about afterwards :-) these things are more in the ears and fingers than in the theoretic brain so to speak....

    Using this approach, i don't find bop changes hard at all provided a spend a hour or two playing through the tune to familiarise myself with the nooks and crannies.

    TBF moments notice or old milestones are a bit more challenging but BH doesn't really teach these tunes AFAIK.

    To my ears GB plays bop on modal vamps - that's a different thing to playing modal stuff on bop tunes (which is what these modernists like to do haha.)
    Yeah GB is definitely using his old bop licks on the modal songs but during that phase, he also introduced more pentatonic and more chromatic material.

    When I watched his instructional DVD I was amazed at how much traditional bop language he knew.

    I'm glad you fleshed out the Barry Harris comment because I was about to ask you about that. I am not sure what you mean by "vamp changes".

    I actually have the Barry Harris material on the way so I'll be delving deep and no doubt asking a few questions.

  14. #2144
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    Benson Picking technique on Gibson L5 Wesmo

    Quote Originally Posted by Philco View Post
    Yeah GB is definitely using his old bop licks on the modal songs but during that phase, he also introduced more pentatonic and more chromatic material.
    I'm not sure if I know exactly what you mean here (pentatonic blues lines have always been a part of the bop language of by bop we mean Charlie Parker) but I would also say I'm not the biggest Bensonian out there! Obviously his playing evolved over time...

    When I watched his instructional DVD I was amazed at how much traditional bop language he knew.
    Perhaps if you were more familiar with his later stuff... But Benson was very much Wes's heir apparent - he mentored with the greats and played bop as well as anyone. He is certainly one of the most swinging guitar players I ever heard.

    Unfortunately Benson was coming up in a time where old school swinging, changes jazz was becoming more and more eclipsed by popular music of various kinds, and jazz itself was changing... so Benson did his vocal thing... but to be fair to him he never stopped playing jazz guitar to a stellar level as part of his shows.

    I'm glad you fleshed out the Barry Harris comment because I was about to ask you about that. I am not sure what you mean by "vamp changes".
    vamps, like a ii V Latin thing, or when it goes I bVII I on Broadway etc... although a few of Bensons famous tunes have changes to them as well. Vamp as in sticks around on one or two chords as opposed to following functional harmony like an old vocal standard.

    I actually have the Barry Harris material on the way so I'll be delving deep and no doubt asking a few questions.
    Cool, feel free to ask! There are a few Barry heads knocking around here.

  15. #2145
    Quote Originally Posted by ecj View Post
    Basically what I was shown by JC Stylles is to use a left hand position that covers 5 possible frets. You have your 1-4 home base, then stretch back with the 1st finger as needed. He didn't teach using rest strokes, but if you're using R-hand rest downstrokes with this basic approach you pretty quickly realize that you can play 8th note lines forever in whatever direction with however many notes on each string as long as you use pull-offs to allow yourself to always switch strings on a downstroke.

    JC Stylles was kind of a weird case when I started studying my Skype lessons with him because he also starts a lot of lines with an upstroke. Not sure what else to say about that, but there it is.

    I haven't seen Benson do his thing up close and personal, and there are definitely some things he does that I can't figure out, but if you just do this you can get pretty close to the sound of his super fast lines if you also include some of the sweeps like what Philco was talking about. A very "Bensonish" thing to do in my eyes is sweep up a 7th arpeggio and then use the chromatic passing tones of the bebop scale as you rip back down.

    Benson's speedy vocabulary is super chromatic when descending and almost never has wide interval leaps on the descent, which really makes sense with this technique when you start thinking about it logistically. That's basically what Montgomery is doing, although he has (imo) even better note choices. I think if you listen to that touplets lick from Off the Top that is so insane and see how chromatic it is, that's a great example.

    So, yes, basically the gypsy thing, and then Benson also has those insanely weird octave displacement things he does that I think use a lot of sweeping with upward pick slanting. I can only do a few of those so I wouldn't make any claims about how the hell he does it. Sounds bad ass, though.

    I also think on this thread you'll see people pretty consistently getting distracted by watching what's happening when people are playing slower. In my opinion as an amateur or "semi-pro" player, you can work literally any ridiculous fingering or picking system up to playing around 8th notes at 280. It's once you get up above 300 that you have to have a more intentional system to survive on a tune.

    I've been trying to rebuild a lot of my basic vocabulary to have a higher ceiling, because nothing sucks more than getting clowned by some sax player on Cherokee. One of my favorite things about listening to Benson is when he shreds the sax/piano/organ player. You just never hear a guitar player that can do that.

    Also, everything Philco said about bop language x 1,000. Even Benson can't compare to those ridiculous Parker lines. Wish you could do that on guitar, but, again, like Philco says no one will care. That's why I spend at least twice as much time practicing my singing as I do my picking.
    thank you. rodney jones has a similar concept regarding the index finger. i've posted a few examples about GB's strange looking UWPS for sweeps.

    so you always change on a downstroke, even when descending?

    how would you guys pick this passage? like me with consecutive upstrokes, or econ up alt down (like bireli picks it)
    Attached Images Attached Images

  16. #2146
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    I like the stretching back thing. I teach that, but it was my wife who plays cello who pointed out the difference between stretching back and stretching up.

    Beginning players often get stuck in too low a position.

  17. #2147
    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    Yeah I dig that bit of advice. Sometimes when I can't be bothered to dig out a pick i just practice with my thumb, and it's always quite fun to work out how to play stuff.
    I think this is an important piece of advice. When I took some lessons with Rodney Jones he really pushed me to start using my thumb. There's an early record where Rodney pretty much only uses his thumb. GB uses his thumb on some things on his early organ records for sure, pretty sure Henry Johnson did as well.

    The thumb really makes you articulate in a similar way to an "mostly downstrokes" player like Charlie Christian, as well, who was obviously a huge influence on Wes.

    Just thinking about this whole school of ridiculously swinging players makes me want to practice more with the thumb. Jimmy Ponder and William Ash, too.

  18. #2148
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    Benson Picking technique on Gibson L5 Wesmo

    So we are agreed that downstroke heavy rest stroke picking is the natural technique of jazz guitar, and all this alternate picking malllarky is a more recent thing (possibly influenced by shred and or country guitar?)

    I was wondering that .... I feel that even various forms of two way economy picking have more history in jazz than alternate, Martino and Garland nonwithstanding...

    Anyway it's not to say alternate is wrong in any way. But I would say alternate is actually harder and obviously a bit less suited to acoustic playing (although country players can project with this technique.)

    Anyway, alternate picking with downstrokes on the beat and upstrokes on the upbeat is something I practice and I think is worth looking into. But then it's also good to practice upbeats on downstrokes too. Your picking will get turned around rhythmically unless you a super strict Jesse Van Ruller style picker.
    Last edited by christianm77; 08-15-2017 at 01:06 PM.

  19. #2149
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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    So we are agreed that downstroke heavy rest stroke picking is the natural technique of jazz guitar, and all this alternate picking malllarky is a more recent thing (possibly influenced by shred and or country guitar?)

    I was wondering that .... I feel that even various forms of two way economy picking have more history in jazz than alternate, Martino and Garland nonwithstanding...

    Anyway it's not to say alternate is wrong in any way. But I would say alternate is actually harder and obviously a bit less suited to acoustic playing (although country players can project with this technique.)

    Anyway, alternate picking with downstrokes on the beat and upstrokes on the upbeat is something I practice and I think is worth looking into. But then it's also good to practice upbeats on downstrokes too. Your picking will get turned around rhythmically unless you a super strict Jesse Van Ruller style picker.
    I think that's right Christian. Not sure where the alt-picking-as-gospel started, maybe GIT?

    The only downside of doing it the rest stroke only way is that it's pretty idiomatic so I've found that tackling a classical piece or something can be challenging. When I go with the conceptual thumb approach my feel, time, and ease increases 200% and I feel more jazz like, but it feels like I can only play jazz doing it.

    Not sure if that's a problem, but I think in the end you have to make choices. There's no single best approach for everything.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  20. #2150
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    Quote Originally Posted by djg View Post
    thank you. rodney jones has a similar concept regarding the index finger. i've posted a few examples about GB's strange looking UWPS for sweeps.

    so you always change on a downstroke, even when descending?

    how would you guys pick this passage? like me with consecutive upstrokes, or econ up alt down (like bireli picks it)
    The first 6 notes would be down on 6th string, down on 5th string, down on 4th string, then stay on 4th string with an up, down, up. Repeat lick starting on 5th string, then 4th string.

  21. #2151
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    Quote Originally Posted by djg View Post
    thank you. rodney jones has a similar concept regarding the index finger. i've posted a few examples about GB's strange looking UWPS for sweeps.

    so you always change on a downstroke, even when descending?

    how would you guys pick this passage? like me with consecutive upstrokes, or econ up alt down (like bireli picks it)
    This one lays fine for alternate picking, to me.

  22. #2152
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    Daryl Darden - love the last clip, Road Song:



    Last edited by destinytot; 08-23-2017 at 04:33 PM.
    "Each heart vibrates to that iron string."
    Ralph Waldo Emerson
    (who obviously played in Carl Kress tuning)

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