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  1. #1

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    he was an amazing guitarist and musician. Very impressive.
    Somebody who knows about joe pass can tell me what technique does he uses when soloing without the plectrum. 3 fingers scales? 2 fingers plus thumb?



    this is a fast run at 5:41

    Is he using free stroke (tirando) in a classical way? if so, i have to say that most of classica lguitarist cant or struggle reachign that speed. So if so, I am curious why he just didnt threw the pic and played regularly like that, this is real a good speed. If this is real tirando, i cant udnerstand why he didnt just go classical guitar.

    Or is he just playing many notes for each hit of the finger? Most likely is this. Like sliding.

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  3. #2

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    I hear that run as quite legato. Definitely not picking (or in this case, fingerpicking) every note

  4. #3

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    I watched him play from the front row a couple of times. I think he just used his style of finger-picking however it suited him. It wasn't classical as such. He was improvising, for one. No pre-planning.

    To approach this I would turn your question around:
    A. How can I play these bebop lines - at all?
    B. How shall I play them without a pick, with my thumb and fingers? (maybe all 4 fingers)

    I think the answer is - whatever works/worked. He sometimes played multiple consecutive strokes with his "I" finger. That's not classical, but it worked for him/his lines. When he wanted to go faster he would often pull his pick from his mouth and do it. Sometimes switching back to pick didn't work so well (because he had switched to finger-style to a significant extent) and he would make picking mistakes and exclaim - "Shit!", lol.

  5. #4
    yes here too,

  6. #5

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    On the question of legato, yes, big time.

  7. #6

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    See here for Joe talking about his right hand technique, starting at 5:30, then some of his left hand technique.


  8. #7

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    Like a lot of jazz guitarist of his generation, Joe spent a lot of time studying how horn players phrased their lines and worked out ways to approximate that on their instrument. Hammer-ons, pulloffs, choosing scale forms and arpeggiated forms that fit legato phrasing, etc. Check out Tal Farlow, Jimmy Raney, etc.

    Looking at Johnny Smith's scale forms (The Guitar Approach Of Johnny Smith or something like that, published I believe by Mel Bay in two volumes) will show forms that work well with slurring and legato phrasing as well as alternate picking may be helpful. There are some differences from the Segovia scales.

  9. #8

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    He'd play fingerstyle somewhat traditionally for his chords and then if he needed to move to single lines he'd move to a technique similar to a bassist just using index and middle and I think a little thumb. You can tell by watching him, and he also says in the tape that he doesn't adhere to a formal method. The chording is mostly traditional finger assignment tho.

  10. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by zdub
    See here for Joe talking about his right hand technique, starting at 5:30, then some of his left hand technique.

    yes thanks for this, i think he explains it very clear. i understand now how he did that run

  11. #10

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    Yes, Joe used hammer-ons and pull-offs to get those fast runs when playing solo. He'd strike the first note of each string with his thumb or finger and let the left hand do the rest. He could also play single lines very fluidly using his thumb, index, and second finger. He said he had no special way of doing this, but I suspect he did but just wasn't aware of it. He'd sometimes change to a pick mid-chorus when he wanted to dig in and play long single-note phrases. He put his pick in his mouth when not using it. Oddly, he used a half pick. He said he didn't play scales or arpeggios, and would sometimes scoff at students when asked about II V I's etc. I think he actually knew more than he let on about theory, but it was probably so ingrained in his playing, expressing what he did verbally must have been a challenge at times. You have to remember earlier players didn't go to college, so they learnt their craft on the bandstand and by listening to records or the radio.

  12. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by fingernylon
    i cant udnerstand why he didnt just go classical guitar.
    Because he was a jazz musician?

    I think this is the only solo guitar album Joe did with a classical guitar. It’s very nice, and a change of pace tonally from Joe’s archtop sounds.


  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by fingernylon
    Is he using free stroke (tirando) in a classical way? if so, i have to say that most of classica lguitarist cant or struggle reachign that speed. So if so, I am curious why he just didnt threw the pic and played regularly like that, this is real a good speed. If this is real tirando, i cant udnerstand why he didnt just go classical guitar.

    Or is he just playing many notes for each hit of the finger? Most likely is this. Like sliding.
    Joe's father basically forced him into being a musician, to give him some other option besides working in a steel mill. He forced Joe's brother into being a writer for the same reasons- he seemed to see a little talent there and pushed it, Joe never learned to ride a bike nor does he seem to have done a lot of other kid things. He was practicing hours before school and after.

    When Joe was young he has said that he started with the Nick Lucas book, then Carca-something (Carcassi? Carcassonne?) which he thought was a better book in terms of the music. So he had some introduction to classical playing very early. His father, who had no ability to play an instrument himself, would force Joe to learn songs from the radio and to harmonize improvised melodies so that laid the foundation for what came later. He was playing professionally by the time he was 13 or something like that. Jazz guitar was at that time strictly a plectrum instrument; Bill Harris recording some of the first fingerstyle jazz on a nylon string instrument came later. Joe's solo playing came about on gigs where he was stranded on he bandstand for a few songs while the band came back from break and recorded at the suggestion of others such as Norman Granz. It ended up being the majority of what Joe played in his career, along with some small combo stuff and duos with Ella, NHOP, etc.

    In all the interviews I've read with Joe, it never seemed to me that he found playing music to be something he loved or to be an uplifting experience. It seemed like he did it because it was his job and what his father wanted him to do, and he was really good at it. It also led him into years of heroin addiction and some jail time. By the time he got to Synanon he didn't even have a guitar. There was always a sadness about Joe, although there are photos of him looking happy socializing with other musicians or playing informally.

  14. #13

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    Actually I think there was more pleasure in music than Joe sometimes made it appear. His interview with Don Mock at GIT (linked below) has some interesting moments. Starting about 17 minutes in he starts talking bout the people he's played with, then busts out with a stunning statement about 19:30 or so. I was corresponding with Joe at the time and I can tell you he loved the music deeply.


  15. #14

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    I agree with Lawson. I didn't get the feeling Joe thought it was just a job, especially given all the fame it got him. Although, I'm sure at times he must have felt like that. He may have seemed a little detached and perhaps not the easiest person to approach, but in his interviews he is affable and amiable. I met him once and he had a keen sense of humor. One thing about him that spiked my curiosity was how he would sometimes look out into the audience with bemusement. It wasn't cynical but surreptitious a bit like a second hand car dealer weighing up his next victim. Joe, if you listening in, please don't take umbrage. It was actually endearing.

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by vsaumarez View Post
    I agree with Lawson. I didn't get the feeling Joe thought it was just a job, especially given all the fame it got him. Although, I'm sure at times he must have felt like that. He may have seemed a little detached and perhaps not the easiest person to approach, but in his interviews he is affable and amiable. I met him once and he had a keen sense of humor. One thing about him that spiked my curiosity was how he would sometimes look out into the audience with bemusement. It wasn't cynical but surreptitious a bit like a second hand car dealer weighing up his next victim. Joe, if you listening in, please don't take umbrage. It was actually endearing.
    I have often thought a key to Joe Pass was that he wasn't owned by the music. John Pisano told a story about Joe going on vacation in Brazil or someplace, for several weeks, but he had John take his guitar to Tokyo where they would play a gig after Joe's vacation. So the guy spends several weeks with no guitar. Flies into Tokyo the day of the gig, walks into the club and they start the first number. Joe's tuning WHILE THEY START PLAYING. He is totally Joe Pass. Plays like he never missed a day.

    He once told me that the guitar is just a device for communicating the musical ideas in the mind. He compared it to a typewriter!

    I do know he also often expressed appreciation and admiration for other players, all kinds of musicians. I think he mainly loved the music and the musicians, and the guitar was his chosen vehicle for making that music.