Charlie Christian

I mainly play the blues but I do love the playing style of the great Charlie Christian. He played a lot more with the major third and sixth instead of the minor pentatonic giving him a lighter jazzier sound.

Playing a Gibson es 150 straight into a Gibson valve amp his sound was clean and warm. He was hugely influential on Chuck Berry who also played using a similar scale but of course adding his own unique rock n roll style.

Sadly he died at the young age of 25 in 1942 but he left a huge legacy for us all to enjoy . Check out the clips below.

 

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Use your illusion.

I Was listening to Use Your illusion part 2 by Guns n Roses the other day on my car stereo and was struck by how many great songs this band wrote.

Everyone knows their classics like Sweet Child o’ mine and Welcome to the jungle but check out the middle section of this album! Pretty tied up and locomotive are absolutely fantastic. Not to mention breakdown and You could be mine!

Slash riffs out like a demon while the rhythm section is driving with Duff playing some great stuff on the bass.  Axl is at his snarling best with some great lyrics. Another album please lads!

Strat v les paul.

I always have a laugh with one of my students about this because he loves his les Paul and I prefer strats. Both guitars are giants in the guitar world and pretty much all the guitar greats have played one or the other( apart from Angus who plays a SG).

The guitars make very different sounds. The les Paul is loaded with humbucking pickups and is one heavy guitar to play. It drives a valve amp to sweet heaven tho without the need for pedals.

The strat has single coil pickups and has a thinner body which i find a lot more comfortable to play. It takes pedals a lot better if that’s your thing and doesn’t muddy up when playing rhythms like the les Paul has a tendency too.

Another thing in the strats favour is price. A new strat is about half the money what you would pay for a les Paul.

Both guitars are wonderful instruments. It’s all about what sound you are trying to achieve.

Heres Jimi with his strat.

 

Here is Jimi Page rocking his Les Paul

The deluxe reverb

Every guitarist has their own preference for which guitar and amp they like best but for me the Deluxe Reverb by Fender wins hands down!

The amp has two channels with the only difference being one has reverb.  First introduced in 1963 the amp has an onboard spring reverb tank which gives the amp a wonderful sound.

Being a pure valve amp the only way to get any bite out of it is to crank it up and even tho it’s rated at a mere 22 watts when you turn the dial to 7 or 8 and plug in a guitar ( preferably one with humbuvkung pick ups) the amp sings like a bird! And it’s loud!

A strat will still sound sweet but you won’t quite get the bite that say a Gibson 335 would. This is my set up.

This amp is the most recorded amp in history! Probably partly because of its low wattage allowing it to be cranked in the studio. A legendary amplifier that you can buy new from just over a grand! Can’t say fairer than that!

Why Zep remain the ultimate blues rockers!

When I think of the term “blues rock” I instantly think of Led Zeppelin. For me they are the ultimate band when it came to playing heavy blues rock.

Formed in 1968 they had the archetypal set up of lead vocals, guitar, bass and drums. On guitar was Jimmy Page who was somewhat of a prodigy from a young age. He was a session musician well known on the music scene playing with bands such as The Yardbirds but Page wanted to form a heavier blusier sounding group.

Robert Plant, John Bonham and John Paul Jones soon joined and the band went on to write some of the greatest riffs in rock history! Check out Whole Lotta Love , When The Levee Breaks and of course the classic Stairway To Heaven to name just a few.

Zeppelin had a solid heavy rhythm section with Bonham’s drums sounding like roaring thunder and John Paul Jones’ bass driving the song with simple yet explosive power. Pages’ guitar was what really gave the band their bluesy edge and in Robert Plant they had a vocalist whose awesome power and range took the band to a whole new level.

If you like your music heavy and bluesy stick some Led Zeppelin on and you won’t be disappointed!

Why it always comes back to the blues!

Whenever i pick my 335 up for a jam i always play the blues. i love the sound of that minor pentatonic scale. Sad and mournful. You don’t play the blues. You feel the blues! Playing the notes is one thing but its the subtle techniques of vibrato, slides, micro and quarter bends that bring the notes to life.

An important thing to remember is that speed is of no importance in the blues. Sure it may impress your buddies but after a few minutes everyone will be bored. Some of the best blues players actually don’t play quick at all, Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker are two examples of true bluesmen with great feel and soul where a few notes on the guitar is all that’s needed.

Tone is also very important. I like plugging my Gibson 335 straight into my Fender Deluxe Reverb and letting that bird sing. Get myself a beer and i’m halfway to heaven!

Being a bass man!

Most of my blogs are about the guitar but I also teach the bass which I have played for 30 years!

Its actually a fantastic instrument and one I love playing when I’m in the wedding band. The job of the bass is to keep rhythm with the drums and but you can be very expressive too and play some great melodic lines.

My favourite bass guitar is the humble fender precision. It is very simple but gives you a punchy sound.

Bass players I like are Adam Clayton from U2. He plays very simple melodic bass lines and was my first influence for the bass.

Another great bass player is flea from the chili peppers. He is a bit busier but plays  some great funky lines.

New rock school books.

The new rock school books have just come out so I thought I’d tell you a few things about these great learning tools.

Each book is graded from what they call debut right through to grade 8. You can choose from 6 songs all of which are designed to improve different areas of your technique and the songs are really very good and enjoyable to play.

There are technical exercises to complete which range from scales and ear tests which again are very useful in becoming a better musician.

If you want to work yourself up the grades or just play for fun these books are a great way to improve your playing!