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  1. #401

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    Quote Originally Posted by rintincop
    So, if I understand you correctly, Shape 1 on page 2 of the Swing Blues book is simply:

    Shape 1 is "C Major Chord" (4 notes in total) PERIOD.
    Yes, that is the SHAPE. The key is to relate melodic ideas to shapes. This should become clearer as you learn some of the lines in the book.

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #402

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    Getting motivated to give these books another go.....I learned most of Blues in C before and have since forgotten some parts of it but more importantly, incorporated a couple of lines into my general blues playing, now I want more. Worth going for ATTYA without finishing the Swing book or is that built on lines/shapes that I should learn first from the Swing book?

  4. #403

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    Quote Originally Posted by odel
    Getting motivated to give these books another go.....I learned most of Blues in C before and have since forgotten some parts of it but more importantly, incorporated a couple of lines into my general blues playing, now I want more. Worth going for ATTYA without finishing the Swing book or is that built on lines/shapes that I should learn first from the Swing book?
    The books are independent. ATTYA has more shapes and the the sample lines can be quite long. (Three 32-bar choruses at the end.) You don't have to finish "Swing Blues" to do it, or start it.

    I'm getting back into this too. Have serious medical issues in the family, so my practice time is curtailed, but I'll be back at it asap. ;o)

  5. #404

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    Quote Originally Posted by rlrhett
    I won't highjack this thread, but I still don't understand what the Bb "shape" has to do with what is played in this example. I'll work through a few more and see if it clicks with me. Thanks for your help.
    The shapes are visual references. You relate the melodic material (the actual lines) to the shapes, so that you may use them wherever you are on the neck.

  6. #405

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    Hey! I had this thread bookmarked from years ago. Glad to see it's still going, I'm gonna have to sit down one night and read from the beginning. Herb's my favorite guitar player not named Wes.

    I updated my transcription of Herb's "When Lights Are Low" : WHEN LIGHTS ARE LOW INTERACTIVE TAB by Herb Ellis @ Ultimate-Guitar.Com

    There's a link in the tab description to a YouTube video of the song. One of my favorites, and some really great major scale licks to learn. Next up: It Might As Well Be Spring.

  7. #406

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bahnzo

    I updated my transcription of Herb's "When Lights Are Low" : WHEN LIGHTS ARE LOW INTERACTIVE TAB by Herb Ellis @ Ultimate-Guitar.Com
    Nice! I love that tune.



    (Herb's solo starts around the 1:00 mark, but it's all good. Great groove here.)

  8. #407

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes
    Nice! I love that tune.

    (Herb's solo starts around the 1:00 mark, but it's all good. Great groove here.)
    I've been looking for this trio's version of "It Might As Well Be Spring". I can't find it anywhere, and I don't just mean on YouTube, I mean a copy anywhere. It's like it no longer exists. It's on the album "Triple Treat 2" I'd love to be able to listen to it before I decide with version of that tune I want to tackle next.

  9. #408

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bahnzo
    I've been looking for this trio's version of "It Might As Well Be Spring". I can't find it anywhere, and I don't just mean on YouTube, I mean a copy anywhere. It's like it no longer exists. It's on the album "Triple Treat 2" I'd love to be able to listen to it before I decide with version of that tune I want to tackle next.

    It's on the "Triple Scoop" CD, a 2-CD set containing Triple Treat I, II, and III. 25 tracks total.
    Monty Alexander/Ray Brown/Herb Ellis - Triple Scoop - Amazon.com Music

  10. #409

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes
    It's on the "Triple Scoop" CD, a 2-CD set containing Triple Treat I, II, and III. 25 tracks total.
    Monty Alexander/Ray Brown/Herb Ellis - Triple Scoop - Amazon.com Music
    I honestly don't know how I missed that. Because I saw that, but..oh well. Problem is, the only CD player I have is for PC and in a box somewhere.

    Edit: ahh the hell with it, bought it anyways. I'll take it to the library or something and rip it if need be. This is a great album for $12.

    And to keep this on track, I dusted off my "Swing Blues" book. I never took to any of these "shapes" ideas, but maybe I'll give it another try.

  11. #410

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bahnzo

    And to keep this on track, I dusted off my "Swing Blues" book. I never took to any of these "shapes" ideas, but maybe I'll give it another try.
    Herb used 'em. Joe Pass did too.

  12. #411

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    I expanded on some of the work Mark did earlier in this thread (and maybe later, I've only read the first three pages so far) with a PDF of the shapes, the shapes connected, and then a series of scales with the shapes outlined with the rest of the notes shown. I also did a page with the Dom7 scales in the keys of C, F and G (for the Blues in C).

    The link is to my google drive.
    HerbEllisShapesScales.pdf - Google Drive

    I listened to the Blues in C last night, and learned the first few measures. I'm working on trying to visualize the shapes along with the chord changes, which is something I've never really done, so it's an old dog/new trick sort of deal. One thing tho, I really find the solo that Herb plays for this a little "stilted" maybe. What I mean is it doesn't sound to me like a Herb solo that flows. It's like he composed this solo, and I'm having a hard time getting the feel of it.

  13. #412

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    Thanks Mark and Bahnzo for the work here -- much appreciated by me, and I'm sure others.
    I agree the Blues In C is a bit stilted but it has enough interesting lines in it to have proved fairly durable for me. I learned it a couple of years back and seem to have incorporated parts of it into regular blues progressions when I jam. I returned to the book recently prompted by discussions here and realized I'd totally moved away from the lines as presented and somehow made them my own (for better or worse!). In a way, that's the idea, right? So I've been trying to get the original back under my fingers without thinking and it's fun the second time around. Definitely need to move onto the next one in the book...You guys keep me motivated - thanks.

  14. #413

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    I don't want to spend $60 (?) for all three Herb books. Which is best?

  15. #414

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    Quote Originally Posted by tomems
    I don't want to spend $60 (?) for all three Herb books. Which is best?
    If you only want one, "All the Shapes You Are" is the best. But "Swing Blues" may be the best one to start with.

  16. #415

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    I'm about 4 pages into the thread, and 2 choruses into the C Blues. I notice what some people were talking about, re: either the transcription being off in places, or some fingering stuff. Not a big issue tho.

    One thing that helps immensely, is using a DAW (Reaper, it's free!) and using that to slow, loop, etc, the solo. Plus I can load in an amp sim and use that to play along. Still trying to "see" the shapes. It's going to take some doing however.

  17. #416

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bahnzo
    ... the transcription being off in places, or some fingering stuff. ... Still trying to "see" the shapes..
    I slowed down & looped some sections, either to hear the actual Vs transcribed line, or because I could't always hear what he was doing rhythmically - he always lands on his feet but sometimes sounded as if he stumbled along the way, my bad I know. Looping those bits helped.

    I've found it a lot easier to see the shapes once I could play the solos without the book...keep on keepin' on they're all fun to play/steal from.

  18. #417

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    Quote Originally Posted by dot75
    I've found it a lot easier to see the shapes once I could play the solos without the book...keep on keepin' on they're all fun to play/steal from.

    That's what I normally do. Sometimes I check the book if I forget something. (Usually with the longer phrases in the "All the Shapes" book.)

    There's a great bit of advice in Herb's earlier book / tape (now out of print) called "Blues Shapes." Terry Holmes is talking about how it's not necessary to get the solos exactly right. (For one thing, it's hard to notate all the nuances of what Herb plays.) The main thing is the FEEL of it. Herb had a great time feel. (Freddie Green remarked on how good Herb's time was.) I like to play them without backing. If they hang together solo, I figure I'm doing something right, even if it's not exactly what Herb did. And it's good to 'sing' them while playing them. (Or grunt / hum, as Herb does.) They seem to hang together better that way.

    I think for each of us, the way we get them to hang together is the way we most naturally play. That could vary for each of us and still be good. That's how we find our own voices.

  19. #418

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    Messing with my new Focusrite iTrack Pocket. Thought I'd take a stab at the chorus from memory. I do like it, though I don't do it justice here. I think the second pass is better than the first.


  20. #419

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes
    Terry Holmes is talking about how it's not necessary to get the solos exactly right. (For one thing, it's hard to notate all the nuances of what Herb plays.) The main thing is the FEEL of it. Herb had a great time feel.
    I can very much agree with that. From transcribing "When Lights Are Low" and now combing thru "Swing Blues", what Herb plays is really dependent on how he plays it. He has a certain way of playing that I can only describe as "weaving" around. The Blues in C really shows that.

    One thing I've noticed so far, is how shape 3's (the "D shape") dominant scale meshes really well with shape 5 (the "G7") since they are both really the same, just using slightly different areas of the fretboard.

    I made a diagram.

  21. #420

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bahnzo
    One thing I've noticed so far, is how shape 3's (the "D shape") dominant scale meshes really well with shape 5 (the "G7") since they are both really the same, just using slightly different areas of the fretboard.

    I made a diagram.
    Nifty! Thank you.
    I'll work with that later today.
    I think all of the greats found some way of getting around their instrument so they didn't have to think about it while playing. (Duh!) The 'shape system' for guitar makes a lot of sense to me, though I haven't made as much of it as I could have. Part of it is the sense that "it can't be that simple!".

  22. #421

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    Hey Mark -- off topic a little but that Focusrite thing...I never knew it existed and now I see they're being cleared out as Focusrite seems to have moved on. Is it the little thing that you slip your phone into? I think even I could use one of those and at $20 or so, I might just grab one.

  23. #422

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    Quote Originally Posted by odel
    Hey Mark -- off topic a little but that Focusrite thing...I never knew it existed and now I see they're being cleared out as Focusrite seems to have moved on. Is it the little thing that you slip your phone into? I think even I could use one of those and at $20 or so, I might just grab one.
    Yeah, they're around $20. Focusrite has moved on to bigger and better (and more expensive) gadgets, but this is a real bargain.

    For starters, you can plug your guitar into it and record video without getting room sound. (You can get room sound too if you want. But you have the option to record guitar direct and nothing else.) The picture is good too. It has some amp simulations you can use too. (You download--free--software called Impact and it has a few amp models, Twin, Brit, AC-30, I think, in addition to Clean.)

    What I'll do later is some of my old songs, plug the guitar in and sing and that's that.

    One thing I don't care for is that a) you have to take your iPhone out of the case to fit it in the ITrack Pocket slot and b) it's easy to tip the thing over. Not dealbreakers, by any means, but factors.

    I'm happy with it.

  24. #423

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    Quote Originally Posted by pants
    Can't say about Herb for sure, but almost all the conventional wisdom on jazz instruction ever puts the blues at the beginning.
    Herb was drenched in the blues. I think it's probably the best place to start. That said, if one was going to buy only one of his books, "All the Shapes You Are" would be my choice. For one thing, it contains shapes that aren't in "Swing Blues".


  25. #424

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bahnzo
    Here's a video of one of Herb's instructional video's. I see it was posted in page #5 of this thread, but that link is dead.
    I have that on DVD. Great stuff.

  26. #425

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes
    I have that on DVD. Great stuff.
    Have you watched it recently? Any idea on how/if it fits in with his books?

  27. #426

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bahnzo
    Have you watched it recently? Any idea on how/if it fits in with his books?
    He plays out of shapes. It's much more interactive. He goes over several basic changes and will play four bars and leave four bars open for you to play. Ray Brown plays bass. He gives some good advice, and as is usual, there's not a lot of theory or in-depth explanation.

    He does do some comping and shows the main shapes he uses. There's a booklet with the DVD that contains a transcription of what he plays. There's a LOT of material there.

    I'm about to post the first three choruses of Herb's "Two Shapes Blues" from an old (out of print) book called "Blues Shapes."
    Last edited by MarkRhodes; 01-22-2019 at 09:30 PM.

  28. #427

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    Flubby but what the hell. Making a lot of short videos with my new iTrack Pocket just to get used to it.


  29. #428

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    Alright, I "finished" Blues In C. I'm not going to the trouble of hooking up a web cam I might or might not have in a box somewhere, so here it is with a backing track, mistakes and all. I did take more than a few liberties with the tune and did my own thing where I didn't like what Herb plays.

    Edit: Backing Track on my Google Drive is anyone wants to have it.


  30. #429

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes
    Flubby but what the hell. Making a lot of short videos with my new iTrack Pocket just to get used to it.
    Mark, what is the model of your Ibanez? Looks like a nice guitar. I used to have a 70's guild hollowbody that I regret selling, but if I get another hollowbody, it'd probably be one of the Ibanez line.

  31. #430

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bahnzo
    Mark, what is the model of your Ibanez? Looks like a nice guitar. I used to have a 70's guild hollowbody that I regret selling, but if I get another hollowbody, it'd probably be one of the Ibanez line.
    It's an AF85. I think it was only made for a couple years, but it's a lot like similar models. I've had it about 15 years and it's still in fine shape.

    I could use a deeper cutaway, as I'm a big guy with large hands, but all in all, this guitar is a better instrument than I am a player, so I have no legit complaints. ;o)

  32. #431

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes
    It's an AF85. I think it was only made for a couple years, but it's a lot like similar models. I've had it about 15 years and it's still in fine shape.

    I could use a deeper cutaway, as I'm a big guy with large hands, but all in all, this guitar is a better instrument than I am a player, so I have no legit complaints. ;o)
    I really like the flamed maple, it has a nice look and I like the tone from your videos, it's nicely balanced.

  33. #432

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    Alright, I've read all 10 pages and 8 million posts (or so it seems, there's a lot of posts per page here!).

    One thing that I haven't seen, is putting this stuff to use. It's one thing to learn the shapes and Herb's solos, but the real goal here is to be able to come up with our own, right? So I'm going to suggest we do just that.

    Since learning "BluesInC" I sat down tonight and went over the lines and reviewed the shapes again. And I found myself just playing the shapes over the backing track I made while trying to visualize the notes within those shapes. And I slowly started trying some ideas of my own which got me thinking.

    So I know this thread is a little slow now, but maybe we can kick some life into it. I think it's one thing to play Herb's stuff, but let's write our own! I think it's a good idea to "compose" something using these shapes (with the end goal of course to be able to improvise freely at some point).

    Tonight I sat down with "Blues in C" and wrote maybe 3/4th's of a chorus by focusing on the chords and the corresponding shapes and trying to connect them from measure to measure. And it's really helping to drive home what Herb's teaching. I'll try to finish the rest tomorrow and post it if I can figure out some way to show TAB in a forum post.

    Any thoughts?

  34. #433

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bahnzo
    I really like the flamed maple, it has a nice look and I like the tone from your videos, it's nicely balanced.
    Thank you! It's called Violin Sunburst (VLS). I like it too. Wasn't absolutley crazy about it at first but it's really grown on me over the years.

    Frank Vignola told me he really liked the sound of my guitar and I thought, "Huh? It's a $300 guitar with absolutely no upgrades!" But he likes it. I play it unplugged all the time and it's the sound I'm used to now. I like it best through my old Polytone amp but that amp's in the closet because I don't have room to leave it out.(Which is why I really like the Focusrite iTrack Pocket---I don't need an amp to use it and it gets a good signal.)

  35. #434

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    Ok, here's my first chorus of a Blues In C that I've written myself, along with the TAB. I've put the shapes I used above like a chord (please don't confuse them as a chord).



    Herb Ellis: Shape System-bluesinctab1-jpgHerb Ellis: Shape System-bluesinctab2-jpg

  36. #435

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    I started this thread years ago and proved a poor steward of it. I apologize. Yet interest remains in this material. A few of us post here regularly and perhaps more check in to see what is happening.

    In the spirit of the new year, what shall we do?
    A few possibilities:
    1) Whatever anyone likes.
    2) Take the solos 4 bars at a time (-the way some other study groups have done) and go from first to last.
    3) Make up our own solos using the shapes.
    4) Something else entirely.
    5) Start with comping, using examples from the book and experimenting with various approaches to comping jazzy blues.

    I finally have a handy way to make videos while practicing, so I expect my level of video participation to increase dramatically. I would love to see the group grow in members and participation.

    What do you guys think?

  37. #436

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    I wouldn't say you've been a poor steward, people seem to come and go as interest gains and wanes. Maybe it could be better to focus only on one book per thread instead of all three? Although it also makes sense for all 3 as they seem to be pretty much geared to be done one after another.

    I'd say just let people do what they like. I advanced the idea of writing our own stuff, because I always believe the end result of any of this should be playing your own stuff. But I'd hate for anyone else to think this has to be their end goal. Learning and enjoyment should be.

    I'm not sure where I'm going after Swing Blues, except that I know I want to transcribe Herb's "It Might As Well Be Spring". I learn so much from doing this, and combining that with his shape books really adds to it. But I also like #5: comping, so I think I might head that way as well.

  38. #437

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    I did get All the Shapes based on rec above (thanks!) I really like it. Are the other two books all the same concepts / lessons / shapes, just with changes switched out -- blues and rhythm changes? Not too many previews of books online that I could find...

  39. #438

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    Quote Originally Posted by tomems
    I did get All the Shapes based on rec above (thanks!) I really like it. Are the other two books all the same concepts / lessons / shapes, just with changes switched out -- blues and rhythm changes? Not too many previews of books online that I could find...

    "All the Shapes" uses more shapes than "Swing Blues." Also, it has extended "vamps" on each one, so you get a lot more material than in "Swing Blues."

    "Rhythm Shapes" is all 8-bar phrases for either the A or B section of rhythm changes (plus two full solo choruses at the end.)

    All the books are good. They are all related.

    I think a good way to work through them is: Swing Blues, Rhythm Shapes, and finally All the Shapes You Are.

  40. #439

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    Opening chorus of "Blues 311" from the "Blues Shapes" book by Herb Ellis and Terry Holmes. This chorus sounds more like something BB King might play than anything else I've learned from Herb. (I love BB too.) Right out of the shapes, as one would expect from Herb.

    Recently switched to a Tele and a Kodiak Crossover pick. (I wear the pick up way up the thumb, which no one else does and probably for a good reason, but it seems to suit me there.) It'll take a few more months to feel perfectly at home this way but I think it's the way I'll be going for some time to come.

    I wanted to record this today so that I'll have something to look back on in a month or so and thereby track progress.


  41. #440

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes
    Opening chorus of "Blues 311" from the "Blues Shapes" book by Herb Ellis and Terry Holmes. This chorus sounds more like something BB King might play than anything else I've learned from Herb. (I love BB too.) Right out of the shapes, as one would expect from Herb.

    Recently switched to a Tele and a Kodiak Crossover pick. (I wear the pick up way up the thumb, which no one else does and probably for a good reason, but it seems to suit me there.) It'll take a few more months to feel perfectly at home this way but I think it's the way I'll be going for some time to come.

    I wanted to record this today so that I'll have something to look back on in a month or so and thereby track progress.

    Very cool, Mark! It's great to see you're still chipping away at those tunes. I'll probably join you, as I came back to playing after suffering a wrist injury last year. Unfortunately I haven't continued with these studies, but I think I did "Blues in C" from "Swing Blues" and the first few chorusses of "2 Shape Blues" from "Blues Shapes" back then. Let me return with the first chorus of the "Shape Blues" and then you should expect me to post one chorus at a time each week. I'd really like to pick up where I left off, and it's nice to see someone else's process with the same project.

    Greetings,
    T.

  42. #441

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    Nice! I actually dug out Swing Blues a month or so ago and played thru Blues in C simply as it's a good exercise. I also have been learning and playing with major and minor 6th arpeggios, and noticed those really mesh with how Herb plays.

  43. #442

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bahnzo
    Nice! I actually dug out Swing Blues a month or so ago and played thru Blues in C simply as it's a good exercise. I also have been learning and playing with major and minor 6th arpeggios, and noticed those really mesh with how Herb plays.
    Great to hear!
    When I was a kid, I never heard of a minor 6 arpeggio but nowadays it's a favorite. It's a great shape to learn because it can be used for different things.
    Here's a short video by Doug Munro. He plays a minor blues using only minor 6 chord voicings, and plays over it. Nice stuff.


  44. #443

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    I've noticed the minor 6th's really do have that "old timey" sound that I've recognized from seemingly everyone from Charlie Christian to old acoustic blues players. It was one of those "aha!" moments.

  45. #444

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    I've got this book gathering dust, somewhere. Might have to join at some point - although the Garrison Fewell stuff is using up most of my little grey cells at the moment!

    Cheers
    Derek

  46. #445

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    Quote Originally Posted by digger
    I've got this book gathering dust, somewhere. Might have to join at some point - although the Garrison Fewell stuff is using up most of my little grey cells at the moment!
    I'm working on the Fewell stuff too. It's eye-opening.

  47. #446

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    First chorus of Herb's "Bay Blues" solo. Good stuff. Probably recorded this with my Artcore some time back. Coming at it all again with a Tele and a thumbpick.

    When I use the neck pickup only, the volume is much reduced. Will have to allow for that in future recordings.



  48. #447

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    I don't read the entire forum all that often, so excuse my question...
    Just curious Mark, did you ever just consider using your thumb? What's the reason for the switch to that unorthodox pick position?

  49. #448

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bahnzo
    I don't read the entire forum all that often, so excuse my question...
    Just curious Mark, did you ever just consider using your thumb? What's the reason for the switch to that unorthodox pick position?
    I have played with just my thumb. It works but my thumb gets sore. It might stop after awhile, I guess, but the thumbpick gives more definition and makes a good contrast with the timbre of notes picked by the finger.

    I don't do all that much that requires a thumbpick. I mean, I value much done in that tradition but for me, the main thing was trying anything that would help my picking. The pick you see me wearing here is very comfortable. (Lots of people use it becaues they have trouble with their grip.) I'm not doing fingerpicking in this piece. (Maybe a note here and there, but none of it is necessary.) I can't keep a flatpick in place. It moves, turns, drives me nuts.

    Some people ditch picks altogether. Mark Knopfler is one, and I am amazed at how he could solo the way he did with Dire Straits with his fingers alone. (Johnny Winter used a thumbpick all the time, which is even more bewildering to me, given how fast he could play single-note lines.) Freddie King used a thumbpick and fingerpicks. Metel fingerpicks, IIRC. I tried those once for about 5 minutes and said, "Uh, no thank you."

    I've had more trouble holding a pick than any other aspect of playing guitar. But I need a pick to do a lot of what I want to do!

    As for wearing this one so far back. It's unorthodox but it has the advantage of consistency. Notice how my thumb sort of cocks up at the tip. If I put the thumbpick there, I wind up at an odd angle when striking the strings and can get a scraping sound. Hate that.

    One of these days I might figure out how to use a guitar pick. And then, watch out, world! ;o)

  50. #449

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    That's a nice sounding blues, Mark. I might have a crack at that one day.

    Cheers
    Derek

  51. #450

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    Quote Originally Posted by digger
    That's a nice sounding blues, Mark. I might have a crack at that one day.

    Cheers
    Derek
    Thanks, Derek. It's the hardest one in the book. Slow blues call for a greater mix of rhythms than fast ones. Herb goes to town here, especially in the final chorus.