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Electric Country Guitar Lessons: “Folsom Prison Blues”

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This page contains a transcription of a video lesson from Country Guitar with Guthrie Trapp. This is only a preview of what you get when you take Electric Country Guitar Lessons at ArtistWorks. The transcription is only one of the valuable tools we provide our online members. Sign up today for unlimited access to all lessons, plus submit videos to your teacher for personal feedback on your playing.

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[MUSIC]
Okay, that's
Folsom Prison Blues by Johnny Cash.
And you can see that I had a little
intro lick and a little outro lick that
you've heard on the record, probably,
if not, check that out if you can.
And, I just wanna preface this by saying,
if there's any questions or
any uncertainties of any of this stuff, we
can always reference the video exchange.
Which is the beauty of ArtistWorks in
the way that they do their program here.
It's pretty amazing and unique.
So, any questions with any of this,
you can always refer back to
sending me a video or
any kinda questions about any us this.
That's the whole point of the program.
With that being said, you can tell that I
was doing some little accents on some base
note walk ups and stuff that like.
And we're gonna introduce that into
this last of this beginning segment and,
or towards the end of
this beginning segment.
And when we get more
into the intermediate,
we're gonna get more kinda fancier and
embellish some things in the bass notes
with rhythms and stuff like that.
So the first thing I am going to do before
I get into the chord structure of this
song is I'm just going to show
you the main lick for the intro.
Because that's fun and
a lot of people have heard this song and
they will identify with this.
So this is the way that this lick goes.
You're working off of the B7 chord.
[MUSIC]
Which I showed you earlier on in this
lesson so, or in this beginner curriculum.
I didn't show you the B7 in this lesson,
but we did it earlier on so
you should know that.
So what we're going to do is we're working
off of the B and the major third of the B.
Which is D sharp or E flat right here
on the first fret on the D string.
So we are gonna work off of
this position right here.
[MUSIC]
And then we are going to
work off off the F sharp
on the low E string.
So the lick is
[MUSIC]
And you can tell there's
a little bit of bend there.
Going against what I said earlier
about bending a full whole step.
This is just going to be
like a little accent bend or
like a little bit of
attitude on this bend.
And it's not a perfect thing.
It's just a little bend,
not even a semitone.
It's just a little bit of an attitude
thing to bend that low string.
[MUSIC]
And that's a lot of what country music is,
there's a lot of little things in there.
But, so this lick, the intro lick.
How this song goes is you'll go one,
two, three
[MUSIC]
and then the music comes in.
What those are called are pickup notes.
So that means these are notes that
you play to lead into the song
before the song actually before
the rhythm section actually comes in.
[MUSIC]
[MUSIC]
What I'm going to explain now is how
the pickup notes work to this song cause
we're counting one, two, three, and four.
So one and two and three and four.
So this lick, one two three.
[MUSIC]
It starts on the and of three and
without being too confusing,
if you can just think about that for
a second.
I play more by ear and
feel, and less by theory.
I think having a good combination
of both is important.
But if you can hear this as what I call,
like a pick up note.
What that's going to be is, there is
these notes, before the band comes in.
So it's one, one, and two, and three.
[MUSIC]
So while this lick
is going on,
[MUSIC]
it's
[MUSIC]
Then the rhythm starts.
So that's a pickup note, and we'll be
getting more into that as we get into some
of these intros on these
other songs as well.
With that being said,
when we play to this track and
you're playing to that, think about
that when the song is being counted in.
And this lick comes in on the and
of three, and that's called a subdivision.
And we can talk more about that too,
as we get into some of this other stuff.
But for right now,
let's go over this lick one more time.
So it's the B note,
we're working off the B7 chord,
and it's just down strokes for
the first part.
Actually, it's down strokes,
the whole intro lick is down strokes.
[MUSIC]
And now one thing I like to do with a lick
like this where I'm on the low strings,
which is a huge part of
the attitude of country guitar.
I'm back, I'm getting back kind
of close to the bridge on this.
And you don't wanna go too far back,
because you'll get this sound,
[MUSIC]
Which is useful in certain things.
But for this, I would do a happy
medium of maybe kinda like in
between the actual bridge and the pickup.
So in this area right back here.
Like I said, you don't wanna get
too far back here by the bridge or
you're gonna get really
[MUSIC].
You'll get so bright and so
kinda thin that you won't have
any meat over the string.
So somewhere right around here.
[MUSIC]
And
what happens is the string
tension gets tighter right here.
So if I was to do this
[MUSIC]
Up here,
[MUSIC]
It loses all the clarity.
So with a lick like this
on the low strings,
get back here and
kinda dig in pretty good.
I mean not overly hard, but just give
it a little bit of muscle, and give it
a little bit of this is like the first
lick of the song and it's a low string.
And it's like hey, here I am.
This needs to be kind of powerful, and
like you stepping out, and like you're
just leting everybody know like hey,
we're getting ready to play
Folsom Prison Blues by Johnny Cash.
We're gonna hit these
strings like here I am.
So, I would do it like this.
If I kick this song off,
it would sound something like this.
[MUSIC]
And then you're into
your rhythm pattern.
So that's a little lesson on that.
And this is personal taste, but
somewhere in between the pickup and
the bridge, in this little,
maybe one, one and
a half inch area down here,
is where I would start.
And you can kinda adjust.
Your pickups even might
affect that sound too.
And I would also on a song like this
with some low string action like that,
I would recommend using your
middle pick up selector.
Hopefully you're playing a Telecaster for
these lessons,
which, I mean a lot of what I do is gonna
be based on this guitar in that style.
Not saying that you have to, but
if you do have a Telecaster on stuff
that's more percussive like this.
[MUSIC]
You're going to get a better
sound with the middle pickup.
You're incorporating a little
bit of the back pickup.
And the front pickup together,
so it's still a fat sound but
it's a little clearer and
a little brighter, too.
For something like this it's perfect.
So we'll get into more of the pickup
selectors and how that works, and
what songs to use and whatnot.
But for this,
I would go to your middle pickup selector.
Or if you have a guitar that has a bunch
of different pick ups or something,
try to find something that sounds kind of
like this which will be a combination of
the back and the front or middle pick ups,
depending on what kind of guitar you have.
But if you're gonna play a bunch of
country guitar and that's what you're
wanting to do, I would recommend probably
at some point getting a Telecaster cuz
you'll be able to find the sounds
that you're hearing in your head, or
that you hear on records a lot
easier with a Tele-style guitar.
And clearly, it doesn't have to
be a cuz I'm using this guitar
that I play here that we
can talk about later, too.
So anyway,
getting back to the lesson at hand here.
Come in on the and a three,
with those pick up notes.
[MUSIC]
And that bend is just a little.
[MUSIC]
That's just a little bit of attitude.
It's not a full bend.
[MUSIC]
You could do that.
But I like to do just a little bit of an
attitude bend for lack of a better term.
[MUSIC]
It is almost out of tune but
it works for this kind of style.
That's the intro and
that's also the outro of the song, too.
So once you get to the end of the song,
that's how they end the song,
too, with that same lick.
Like I said, it's based on the B7
chord and you're playing the one,
the major three and then bending off of
the five of that chord, which is F sharp.
[MUSIC]
And that's how the intro
goes to Folsom Prison Blues.
And now we're gonna move on to
the Luther Perkins rhythm style.
And I'm gonna play along with
the track again, as well.
And you'll have the accompanying chord
chart to go along with the song as well.
So moving along.
[MUSIC]
[MUSIC]
Okay, you'll notice in that
last run-through of
Folsom Prison Blues when I
was doing the Luther Perkins style,
[MUSIC]
I added a few little bass note walkups and
accents and stuff on that song.
And I wanted to incorporate a little
bit of an introduction on some of that.
Because those are adding just
a little bit of embellishments and
making it interesting for
us, as the player, and
also the listener and
the other members of the band.
It might be inspiring to get
away from that just super
simple rhythm pattern,
without overplaying.
We definitely don't wanna overplay, which
means playing too much embellishments.
And that kinda can start getting
a little bit of too much movement and
stuff like that.
So just a few little bass note ideas,
like I did in that song,
are welcome, for sure.
So what I'll do is I'll give you some
examples of what that can sound like.
So I'll do the intro and
then play a little bit of the song.
And I'll show you how we can do some of
these little walkups and stuff like that.
So we'll do the intro and
then into the rhythm
pattern here.
[MUSIC]
Okay, so what I did there
is I walked up to the A chord,
which is the four core,
I walked up to the A.
I walked back down to the E,
and then I walked up to the B and
then walked back down with a little
embellishment going back to the E chord.
So that's when you wanna do
these little embellishments.
They're gonna be leading
into the next chord and
leading out of that chord
into the next chord.
So what I did on the first one, I did,
[MUSIC]
So,
[MUSIC]
Simple little walkup right into the A.
And what I did was I hit
a little bit of a blues note,
which we'll get into
all that kind of stuff,
changes from the major
sound to the blues sound.
We'll get into all that
stuff in future lessons.
But for right now,
I'm just gonna show you how to do this.
So what I was doing was I
was leading up the scale.
So if I was in E and
the major scale is one, two, three, four,
well, that's a great way to
walkup to the four chord.
[MUSIC]
So that's walking
up from the notes right out of the scale.
So with that being said, what I did
was I changed that to make it a little
bit funkier or bluesier,
because this song kind of lends itself to,
you don't wanna play a minor scale or
anything like that, by any means.
But it lends itself to a little bit of,
like I said on that bent note,
a little bit of attitude and just
a little bit of kind of the Johnny Cash
flavor of his, really, his life,
his music, his personality.
All that stuff can kinda go into
the flavor of this classic song by him.
[MUSIC]
[MUSIC]
So with that being said,
getting back to the lick here,
the walk up,
instead of going one, two, three, four,
which are those degrees of
the scale that we talked about,
and we'll elaborate more on that also,
but I'm changing that to the flat three.
So I'm going up E [SOUND], G [SOUND],
three [SOUND], then to the A.
Which is a chromatic run.
Chromatic means no whole steps,
half steps the whole time,
so chromatic would be
[NOISE] just straight up,
all half steps,
no break in any of the notes.
So chromatic is that, and we'll get
on to that too, and other things.
So this is actually a chromatic run.
[SOUND] It's going up in sequence,
G, G sharp, A.
But we're playing the A open so
it looks like this.
[SOUND] So that run.
[MUSIC]
So its
[MUSIC],
the timing on that is just going
right into the four chord.
[MUSIC]
So one, two, three.
[MUSIC]
Right into the four chord.
So, again, I'll do it one more time.
[MUSIC]
And then going back down.
We're gonna, since its going up [SOUND],
you go G, G sharp, A [NOISE].
When we're going back down to the E,
It wouldn't sound right to do this.
This is what won't sound right.
[MUSIC]
Excuse me, if I'm in A,
[SOUND] going down doesn't
work the same way.
[MUSIC]
That doesn't sound right,
cause you are going back
down from A to To E.
So the note you want to
hit going back down is G,
F sharp, and then back to E.
Because that's what sounds right
because of the way the scale works out.
Going up to A,
you're hitting that three [SOUND],
which leads your ear to that
next chord going back down.
[SOUND] You're hitting the G.
And then the F sharp to lead back into E,
so both those together sound like this.
[MUSIC]
So going back down is G,
F sharp, to E.
[MUSIC]
That's those two.
Now, walking up to the B,
we're gonna go G sharp, [SOUND], A,
[SOUND] right to the B note, so,
this is gonna sound like this,
so, I'll do the whole thing in sequence.
[MUSIC]
Okay so
when I walk up to the B,
[SOUND] open E, [SOUND],
G sharp, [SOUND], open A,
[SOUND], right to the B.
[SOUND] And then instead of playing
the B like this on this song,
[MUSIC]
I'm going to play it like this.
I'm going to play the same pattern, but
I'm going to play the B note on
the A string with my second finger.
[SOUND] I'm going to play the three of
the B seventh chord which is E flat or
D sharp right here with your first finger
on the first fret of the D string.
And then I'm gonna alternate
on this bass note.
So I'm gonna go
[MUSIC]
in just that little bend.
So that whole thing
[MUSIC],
and that might seem hard to do,
but I'm basically
barring these two notes.
But it's hard to bar with
one finger like that, so
I'm alternating to hit the bass
notes in between my picking.
[MUSIC]
While this pick is hitting these two
strings, [SOUND] right after I get
done hitting this A string [SOUND],
this second finger lifts up while
this is in mid [SOUND] pick.
Hits this string [SOUND], so
it's ready to hit that string afterwards.
So while the second finger
on the A string is being
struck,
[MUSIC]
while this pick hand is hitting the D
string on the double strokes,
[SOUND] this finger is moving up and
over to here to get ready
to hit that next lick.
So
[MUSIC]
and I added a little
embellishment there too.
I went B, [SOUND] A, [SOUND] bend and
then open, so
[MUSIC]
and then right back to your
rhythm pattern.
So it's gonna go two bars
of five which is one, two,
three, four, one, two, three, four.
That's two bars and
then it's gonna go two bars of one.
So it's gonna go
[MUSIC],
and then it's gonna do the intro again.
So it's gonna go one, two, three,
four, one, two, three, four.
And then,
[MUSIC],
and that's how you end the song.
So it's gonna be the lick.
[MUSIC]
And then a little bit of
a cap-off at the very end.
So all that is is the same lick.
[MUSIC]
And then this little cap so
that'll be right out of
the pentatonic scale and
right out of this open E
[SOUND] little bar chord.
So, that was
[MUSIC],
so just literally outlining that chord.
[MUSIC]
So we slid up [SOUND] to the fourth fret
and then just did the first fret.
I mean, second fret, A string.
[SOUND] And
then E on the D string second fret so.
[MUSIC]
And then ending with a big E chord.
So that's the intro, the outro and
the song of Folsom Prison Blues.
[MUSIC]
[MUSIC]
Okay, that was the basic
melody of Folsom Prison Blues.
Basically played out of the chord shapes.
And I'll show you how that
works here in just a second.
One thing about this tune is,
at the beginning,
it does have two bars
before the melody comes in.
So that's gonna be
[MUSIC].
So it'll be two sections of one,
two, three, four, one,
two, three, four, and
then the melody comes in.
So there are a little bit of
bars before that happens, so,
With that being said, the melody of
that song is, we're starting on the,
Major third of E,
which will be [SOUND] your
G-sharp note on the G string, first fret.
And then we're gonna go from this note,
[SOUND] we're gonna hit it twice.
[MUSIC]
And
then we're gonna hit
the A note a half step up.
Which is following the vocal line,
the vocal melody.
So we're gonna go two times down,
[MUSIC]
all down strokes,
[MUSIC].
Hit the A note,
then we're gonna hit the open B string.
[SOUND] So,
[MUSIC].
And then the next note,
we're gonna jump down and
hit the E note on the D string second
fret, [SOUND] with my second finger.
So we're gonna go first finger,
[SOUND] second finger,
[SOUND] open, [SOUND].
And then we're gonna
hit that E note twice.
So it'll be two times, [SOUND] one time,
[SOUND] one time on the B
string open [SOUND].
And then twice on the E string
on the second fret of the D.
I mean, the E note, second fret of
the D string, so that sounds like this.
[MUSIC]
So the second time, you'll notice,
I only hit this E string one time.
So that's like a little call and answer.
So that's kind of a phrase,
following the vocal line.
So those two parts,
they're the exact same, but
one time, the first time,
the E note is hit twice.
And then the second time, it just
hits once, so that sounds like this.
[MUSIC]
And then it does
the whole thing again.
[MUSIC]
And then we're getting ready
to go to the four chord, which is A.
[SOUND] So the whole melody up
to there,
[MUSIC].
And then we're gonna follow
the shape of the A chord.
We're gonna go,
[MUSIC].
So that part is we're hitting the A.
When we go to the A chord,
we're hitting the A string.
[MUSIC]
So we're sliding up to the three.
We're working off of this
[MUSIC]
pentatonic box pattern here.
Which is, I’ve described this before,
it’s a whole step here, and
then this little box shape.
It's these two frets on this string and
these two frets on this string
which creates this box pattern.
And that’s right out of the A shape.
So we’re gonna slide down
the A string to the fourth fret.
[MUSIC]
We're going to hit the B note on
the second fret of the A string and
slide up to the C sharp.
So,
[MUSIC]
and land on the E note of the D string.
So we're gonna do this
sequence right here.
[SOUND] And
this is your third finger cuz watch how it
puts you perfectly in position for that.
[MUSIC]
So,
[MUSIC],
that's the melody line, so,
[MUSIC].
And then we're gonna hammer on onto
the F sharp note on the D string.
So
[MUSIC]
and then hammer on,
[MUSIC].
And then we're going to
hit the E note right here.
So
[MUSIC]
and then we're gonna go back to
the F sharp right here.
[MUSIC]
To the B
string, so
that's
[MUSIC].
So that's what that melody sounds like.
And that's all using the notes
right around [SOUND] the A chord.
So once again,
we're gonna slide up from the B.
We're gonna hit open A, [SOUND].
Slide up from the B
[SOUND] to the C sharp.
Hit the E on the second fret
of the D string, [SOUND].
F sharp one whole step up, [SOUND].
Back to the E, back to the F sharp,
[SOUND], and then B.
So that sounds
like
[MUSIC].
And that part might be confusing
because it does the same thing twice.
It goes,
[MUSIC]
and then you're landing on that B.
And that's what takes you back to E.
So this is over A,
[MUSIC]
so you're back to E there.
So that finishes
that phrase out,
so so far,
we've got,
[MUSIC].
And that takes us back to the E.
[MUSIC]
[MUSIC]
Now there's a couple bars
of E there when that goes by.
There's a couple bars of E before
it goes to the B chord [SOUND].
So what we're gonna do after this
[MUSIC].
We're gonna put a little lick in
here to cover the couple bars of E.
So we're gonna go
[MUSIC].
And what that is, is that's gonna
be a little bit of a quicker lick, and
up to tempo it'll sound like
[MUSIC].
So that lick is gonna cover the E chord,
and
it's a little bit of a syncopated lick.
[MUSIC]
So you're hitting the B string,
the B note on the A string,
second fret, C sharp, a whole step up,
everything we're doing are whole steps
here, except for that was a half step.
But these positions here,
where we're using these block patterns,
those are all whole steps,
[MUSIC].
So we're going
[MUSIC].
So that's a little bit of
a quicker attack there.
So that's
[MUSIC].
And with that lick,
my picking pattern is down,
up, down, so I'm going
[MUSIC].
Actually I'm going down,
[SOUND] I'm going down, down, [SOUND] and
then up, [SOUND] and then two downs.
So just to get the power of the down
stroke for those low strings.
[MUSIC]
But you can see, when I needed to be
quick, when it was the quicker lick there,
that's when I did the down, up, down.
And that's gonna start coming
into your playing naturally,
as we work with faster licks.
That's when the down, up,
down really, really is useful.
Cuz if I had to go
[MUSIC].
So instead of going,
[SOUND] which are all down strokes,
[SOUND] instead of moving that much,
I can go [SOUND] and
really get more out of my picking hand.
And I will cover more on
that in the future too.
So, so far, just to recap,
we've got
[MUSIC].
And on that, I'm going down
[MUSIC]
on the G string twice, [SOUND] one,
two, three, actually three times.
Twice here, [SOUND] once on the A fret and
then one up,
I'm going up stroke on the B string.
So let's look at this closer.
Down [SOUND]
twice, [SOUND]
down once,
[SOUND]
up on the B
string, [SOUND]
and then down
twice on the E,
so
[MUSIC].
So that's that phrase.
Now we're gonna go to, when it goes
to the B, [SOUND] we're gonna go.
So after this part,
[MUSIC]
we're gonna go off of the B chord that we
played before [SOUND] in previous lessons,
we're gonna go B string,
first finger second fret.
[SOUND] We're gonna go F
sharp on the D string,
fourth fret with the third finger,
so [SOUND].
And then we're gonna hit that twice
[MUSIC].
So we're gonna go B,
[SOUND] F sharp [SOUND] twice,
E on the second fret of the D string,
[SOUND] and then D sharp or E flat,
the first fret of the D string, so
[MUSIC].
And we're gonna do this,
we're gonna slide down with
the first finger to that position.
So we're gonna go
[MUSIC].
And then we’re gonna hit
the B note on the A string on
the second fret with the middle finger.
So the whole thing is gonna be
[MUSIC].
So we’re sliding down from E to E flat,
[SOUND] so
[MUSIC].
And this is all down strokes
[MUSIC].
And then,
[MUSIC].
So [SOUND] then we're hitting
[SOUND] this, one, two, three,
four, five, [SOUND].
So [SOUND] one, two, three, four,
five, open A, [SOUND] bend,
[SOUND] releasing on low E, so
[MUSIC].
So that whole sequence is
[MUSIC].
And that concludes the melody for
Folsom Prison Blues.
[MUSIC]