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How to Play Stevie Ray Vaughan's "Pride and Joy" Shuffle

Stevie Ray Vaughan earned respect as a blues and rock player—a musician who could bridge the two worlds in a single solo. As with all great guitarists, his rhythm playing was as strong as his leads. He excelled at a style of shuffle playing that has its roots in earlier players, yet he was able to turn it into a personal trademark. This lesson is dedicated to Stevie's memory.

Talkin’ Blues Lesson: Cliff Gallup’s Smooth, Lyrical Ballad-Playing Style — with Tab and Audio

Last month, we examined the high-energy style of Cliff Gallup, whose innovative solos with rockabilly icons Gene Vincent & the Blue Caps set a new standard for sound, technique and imagination. This month, we’ll look at how Gallup explored the opposite end of the musical universe—romantic ballads—with an equally successful balance of skill and attitude.

"Boogie Uproar" — The Up-Tempo Soloing Style of Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown

Sixty years ago, barely a decade into the electric guitar era, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown unleashed one of the wildest guitar instrumentals ever captured on record. “Boogie Uproar” was just that, a dose of pure, in-your-face electric energy that musically linked the past—the sophistication of swing—to the future: the raw ferocity of rock and roll.

Talkin’ Blues with Keith Wyatt: How to Use Slapping and Raking in Blues Guitar

For guitarists accustomed to channel switching and distortion pedals, the thought of being forced to plug straight into a clean amp can be a nightmare. But the big, bad guitar sounds of classic blues are all “straight in,” so how do players turn this apparent handicap to an advantage? The secret is to attack.

Lesson: The Power of Thirds

In past lessons we’ve spruced up rhythm patterns by adding extra notes to chords, and by inserting bass lines and scale runs. This time around the subject is intervals, specifically thirds. Here we give you some practical examples of how to put thirds to work for you. In fact, thirds in particular are real workhorses, frequently used by guitarist, R&B, rock, country and blues.

Talkin’ Blues Lesson: A Tribute to Cliff Gallup’s Legendary Flash — with Tab and Audio

Gene Vincent and the Blue Caps epitomized rockabilly’s iconic image, with their leather jackets, ducktail hairstyles and kick-ass-and-take-names personae. The band also introduced one of the most adept, versatile and influential electric guitarists of his generation: Cliff Gallup.

Lesson: Harmonizing With Fourths

As the interval between the fifth scale degree and the octave, the fourth is basic to the structure of most chords. When used melodically, however, fourths are not nearly as versatile as thirds and sixths. As you’ll see, though, fourths have found a home within, of all places, R&B, soul, and funk. Check out this lesson with audio and tab...

Lesson: Using Broken Chords to Add a Little Drama

The full-chord strum is only one way to skin the rhythm cat. A subtler but no less effective approach is playing broken chords, which involves successively picking the individual notes of a chord in a following pattern. An arpeggiated, or “broken,” chord simultaneously outlines the harmony, meter and rhythm.

Lesson: Country-Funk - What Hank Williams and James Brown have in Common

Most of you are probably familiar with the two-beat “boom-chick” style of rhythm playing so prevalent in classic country music. You may be surprised to learn that the groove that drives, say, Hank Williams’s “Your Cheatin’ Heart” is not that far removed from the one that drives a funk song like the James Brown instrumental “Night Train.”

Fill ‘Er Up: Creating Guitar Melodies Between Vocal Lines

Fills, those brief instrumental runs that occupy the spaces between vocal lines, no doubt have their origin in the call-and-response vocal tradition associated with country blues, gospel, work songs and field hollers. On records, guitar fills can be overdubbed, but you can enhance both your rhythm playing and soloing by learning to alternate seamlessly between steady chord patterns and well-placed melodic phrases.