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Blues Guitar Lessons: Expanding The Boogie

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Now we've spent a lot of time talking
about the boogie shuffle, and
the ways of phrasing the boogie shuffle.
And we're gonna come back again,
in this lesson, to the boogie shuffle.
But we're combining it with
some of the ideas that we're
picking up from other rhythm parts.
Specifically the walking bass pattern
that we covered in the last lesson.
Now you know if I'm in the key of A for
a typical variation on the boogie pattern
would be to add more notes to the phrase.
And what we're used to doing
right now is we play the root and
the fifth and
then we add the sixth, right?
So the basic pattern.
Just going back and
forth between those two notes.
What we hear from the walking bass is,
we get the root, the third, the fifth,
sixth and the seventh, right?
Well, we can integrate that into
the boogie pattern as well, like this.
It kinda expands the palate a little bit.
Same rhythmic effect.
It's a variation you hear
on lots of blues records,
where the guitar player just
sort of adds that note in.
It's a judgment call, whether you use just
the sixth or you add the seventh, but
it's an easy move to do in the open key
Now when you're in a moveable key like
A at the fifth fret, you need to stretch.
Now, depending on the size of your
hands and how comfortable you feel,
that can be a monster stretch,
almost undoable.
Or it could be within reach.
But if you find that it's kind of beyond
your means and you're playing in a key
where you can't use open strings,
that's where the old capo comes into play.
And you just clamp, let's say you
wanna play that in the key of G,
you just clamp it at the third fret and
suddenly G becomes the same as open E.
It's very simple.
So the capo was always there
as kind of a safety valve for
more complicated stretches and
technical stuff like that.
Let's go back to open A for a second.
Another typical embellishment
that's related to the walking line.
Is adding notes to the bottom end
of the pattern, in other words
Now what I'm playing there
is the A chord and then the
With my second finger I add the C,
that's the minor third.
then my third finger I
add the major third.
Now, in the walking pattern,
we get the major third spot on,
so in the
we're adding a little bit of
an embellishment setting up
that note with a minor third.
Again, a typical guitar
variation on the boogie pattern.
Taking it even further
in open position there.
I can add a transitional phrase like this.
So I'm taking advantage
of the ease with which
I can finger those notes.
I've got the
the upper part
and I lead into that A from
G sharp
And it just makes the pattern
sound a little bit more full.
Now when you transfer that to
a higher position on the neck and
use a bar chord, that can be tricky.
One way to do it is
just put your fourth
finger to work
Right, it's a good thing to do,
it also strengthens your fourth finger
to use for other purposes as well.
But if you find that that's daunting and
causes your rhythm feel to suffer a little
bit, here's an alternative,
which is shifting position.
Now what I'm
doing there is kind
of a little deceptive.
I play the A chord, and then I let go of
the A, I'm not gonna play that again.
And I shift my hand up two frets and
I substitute my first finger for
my third finger.
And then I'm kind of slapping those.
Again, these embellishments expand
on the idea of the boogie pattern.
They provide more color.
They kind of lock the pattern
in with the bass more so
it makes the sound bigger
on the bottom end.
These are not the number one essential
go to patterns as much as the straight
boogie shuffle.
But they're typical variations.
Let's apply that to the 12 bar, but
before we do I'm gonna show you
a little bit more sort of variations that
you hear on different kinds of shuffles.
Again, the idea is you
expand the boogie shuffle.
One way to do it is you might've heard
something like this on some shuffles.
Kicking it old school on the ending there.
[MUSIC] Remember that? We used that quite
a while ago as an ending in the open
A twelve bar shuffle.
Now, you can hear how big
those rhythm parts sound,
relative to our
So I'm slapping at the strings,
I'm muting the extra notes that
I don't wanna hear and basically
expanding the sound of the guitar so
that I'm riding up on top of the bass.
I'm using parts of the bass pattern,
but I'm also building on top of that,
and creating just a sort
of a more dramatic effect.
Now I'm also using, from time to time,
this technique that
we've touched on before.
Dragging the pick.
Upward across the strings,
we're gonna explore that in more
detail a little bit later on.
It provides kind of a rhythmic fill,
as opposed to a melodic fill, all right.
All right?
You can use it in different places.
You don't want to overuse it.
It's a little bit distracting
if it's too common,
but it sort of helps fill in that
rhythm in an interesting way.
So right there we've got
a couple of different flavors
that we've added to the boogie shuffle.
I wanna do one more before we move on.
And that's, instead of playing the notes
all together to create this really big
sound, I wanna kinda separate the notes
to create a smaller more focused sound.
And there's one particular song that,
in the history of blues,
is one of the biggest hit records ever for
It was called honky tonk.
There was a record that
was done in the 1950s and
the artist is Bill Doggett who
was actually the organ player.
But the song was invented by the guitar
player, Billy Butler and the sax player,
Clifford Scott.
And the guitar part was like this.
I'll show you real quick and
then we'll break it down for you.
It goes
And so forth, now that's a shuffle in F.
And a shuffle in F is a stretch
by anyone's standards, right?
The frets are the farthest apart there,
so you really have to reach out.
Now he's using
the seventh note there.
Now to reach up and
get that on the fifth string,
forget it.
So he came up with a very clever solution,
which is he uses the fourth string.
In other words,
bars across the first fret,
so we're playing the bottom
part of the standard boogie pattern,
but separating the notes
and I'm using down stroke,
up stroke in my right hand
and then using the seventh as an extra
melodic part of the pattern
on the fourth string.
And same thing on the four chord.
it goes up
to the C,
same thing.
If you hear that recording you'll
hear how kind of cool and
captivating it is.
The story on that record is
that they invented that song.
They were playing it at a dance and
Billy Butler just went into that pattern.
And everybody else in the band just joined
in, it was just a jam but the audience
heard it and they started dancing and
the legend is that they came up afterwards
and said play that again, you know,
they played it again and they came up and
said play it again, you know,
played it again and
they did it like nine times, you know?
Everybody just loved that thing and so
they put it out as a record after that.
And became a huge hit record,
it's still a blues standard today.
So this is a really good rhythm part to
know and a good technique to know as well.
Let's play it with a rhythm pattern,
now we've got the rhythm
section 12 bar blues in F, and
we're gonna play the honky tonk
variation separating the bass notes.
I just
a little
on the
Just playing a blues run and
then end on the 9th chord.
Now, I varied it somewhat
in the second chorus.
Those are all options.
But the idea is the technique.
We've got two different ways of
approaching the boogie right now.
One is to fatten it up by adding
extra notes in the bass pattern and
slapping at the strings and
creating a really big, powerful sound.
And the other one is to thin it out.
Separate the notes and
kinda define the sound.
Each one works in its own way
creating a different color, and
it's something you could apply to
a different type of a boogie shuffle to
make it interesting, okay?
Mess around with those and we'll come back
and talk some more about boogie shuffles..
Now, we looked in the last lesson [COUGH]
at ways of sort of the expanding
the sound of the boogie and
shrinking the sound of
the boogie to some extent.
In this lesson we're gonna look at
another way of embellishing the boogie.
And it works with any kind
of a basic bottom pattern.
But the idea here is that you're
adding rhythmic fills to the boogie
that are similar those that
the drummer would play.
When the drummer would
play a shuffled beat,
they go
and that [SOUND] that little fill there
typical sort of a minimal drum fill,
that's what we emulate.
As we're playing our rhythm patterns,
we're listening to the bass,
we're listening to the drums.
And we're saying,
how do those guys phrase their parts?
And how can I incorporate
those into my rhythm parts so
that my rhythm parts synchronize with
them and we all sound stronger together?
So, taking that idea of putting a triplet
embellishment on beat four,
[SOUND] sounds like this.
I'm gonna use just the regular
boogie shuffle and
here's the effect that I created.
now the basic
fill that
I'm using
is the same
on each of
the chords.
I used it on the E chord and
I used it on the A chord.
It's this,
so I'm
adding a little melody to the top
which is in the triplet rhythm.
Now, I'm using it a lot
to illustrate the point.
But in fact,
I wanna use it rather more sparingly as
something at the end of
every four bars perhaps.
It's like a drum fill.
You don't wanna over due it.
The A chord, same idea.
There's that upward rake again,
which fills in the pattern.
All right.
So that's one way of kind
of adding a rhythmic and
melodic embellishment
to the end of a phrase.
What we're doing is making the boogie
pattern sound more complete.
It has sort of phrases within phrases.
And this is what you hear on a lotta great
blues records, is that the rhythm pattern
is really interesting and
it has a lotta texture to it.
So by learning these techniques,
you'll learn how to kinda build a pattern
that's more responsive to the dynamics
of the song that you're playing.
Now another way to add that sorta
triplet embellishment to it
was actually something that you
hear on Robert Johnson records.
Remember our old pal Robert Johnson.
He gave us the boogie shuffle.
Well, [COUGH] Robert Johnson records,
during his lifetime,
he didn't sell any records at all.
Maybe one estimate is like 10,000,
which wasn't a bad number but
still he was not a major star.
And so the vast majority of people that
heard about Robert Johnson heard about it
for the first time in the 60s when they
released his records again on albums.
That's when Eric Clapton and all the
English guys first heard Robert Johnson.
And the common reaction when people
heard Robert Johnson records was,
who's that other guitar player?
Who's the other guy?
And the answer was, there is no other guy.
That's just him, right?
And the reason they thought there was
another guy was that his rhythm parts were
so full, they were so complete.
And one way he created that illusion
was to add a little fill like this.
And so
on, right?
Now he played with a thumb
pick in his bare fingers so
he was kinda gripping the chords a little
bit differently in his picking hand.
I'm using the flat pick
as we normally do today.
So, the trick there is that it sounds
like the rhythm part just continues
uninterrupted, you're actually breaking it
for a moment to get that fill in there.
But if you put the fill in
in the right rhythmic spot,
it sounds continuous and unbroken.
Playing it real slow, it sounds like this.
Now, technically what I'm doing is playing
the boogie shuffle on the E chord.
And then I reach over and
I bar [SOUND] the fourth and
third strings.
[SOUND] And then hammer on the open third.
with the open E in between.
So it's E.
And in my right
hand is downstroke,
upstroke, downstroke.
now other ways of phrasing it,
there's almost infinite
varieties here.
That's using
the open string.
and hammering on that major third there.
Or I can add another note at the end.
Right, that's just using
the open strings on top, right?
Now, this could sound very technical and
kinda complicated.
But when you hear it in context
it just drives that rhythm
forward in a way that just sounds so
natural and so complete.
And the idea then is that people
listen to your rhythm playing,
they say who's the other guy?
And you say that's just me check it out,
Now, let's put this idea to work over a
12-bar blues progression in the key of E.
And you'll hear what it sounds like.
I'm gonna combine some of the ideas
we've covered in the last unit or two.
We've got that fill.
[SOUND] we've got the rhythmic
fill on the lower string.
When we go to the A cord,
right, we can use different bass
patterns to fill in on the bottom.
I mentioned a while ago in one of
the earlier lessons about the B
chord in the key of E, how you can cheat.
And instead of playing B
with a bar chord like that,
you can actually use that opening A.
This might remind you of some of
the stuff Stevie Ray Vaughan did.
It certainly is similar to stuff
that you hear on Jimmy Reed records.
These are classic,
classic blues shuffle patterns, and
they're really part of
the tradition of the whole style.
So let me play the example for you, and
then I'll break down some of the details,
right, 12-bar shuffle in E.
Now, in the two choruses that I played
there, I mixed it up a little bit,
but I used all those techniques
that we talked about.
We've got
the triplet fill on the low strings.
We've got the,
We've got the triplet fill
on the higher strings.
We've got the different bass patterns.
And so on.
One time I use the standard five-chord,
the second time I use the old school,
the old school five-chord.
So you've got it all kind of
mixing around in the middle there.
Believe it or
not that's not the end of the story.
But that's a pretty good introduction to
how you can embellish
the boogie shuffle pattern.
And for all of these embellishments here,
if you wanna move them to other keys and
get that same sound,
that really big driving sound, the best
way to do that is simply to capo up.
And don't try to finger them and
get too fancy with them, with capo up.
Now, I'm gonna show you how to play in
other keys without using the capo, but
the sound is slightly different.
So for the down home quality don't
be afraid to use the clamp, okay?
Mess around with that and
I'll see you the next time.
Now we've looked at ways of
expanding the boogie pattern by adding
notes to the base, adding fills.
Playing in open position and
using the open strings to help sort
of build the dynamic qualities.
Separating the notes, you know, there's so
many ways that you can color
that same basic rhythm.
Now we're gonna look at a technique that
is really derived from piano players.
Piano players typically play
a walking line in their left hand,
and they're tracking the bass there.
In the right hand they can
play all kinds of stuff.
But one thing that they do is they
play that boogie pattern that
we're playing which is the
The 5th to the 6th that's
the essence of the pattern.
But they do it using full chords
like this [SOUND], right?
Now in the piano that just involves
a very simple chord change.
On the guitar we have to develop
a different technique to play it.
But the result is very cool.
So this is another example of one
guitar doing the work of two.
The key to this technique is to use
your thumb to anchor the chord.
So I'm playing a G chord just for
the sake of demonstration here.
Thumb over the top, there's G [SOUND].
I played a G major triad there.
Right, remember, [SOUND] our major chord
[SOUND] dominant chord [SOUND] and
now it's the root, the octave,
the third, and the fifth [SOUND].
The other notes, first string,
fifth string, are muted.
[SOUND] And then I lay my
third finger flat as if I was
playing a [SOUND] C chord, but
I keep that G in the bass [SOUND].
So it has the effect of
going like the boogie
shuffle from the fifth
[SOUND] to the sixth.
But with the other notes added
in it's a really full sound.
So it's
like this
All right.
If you're playing in a three piece band or
you're the main rhythm guitar player,
that's the kinda part that
is just suddenly like, wow.
Now its not something you use
all the time necessarily, but
let's saying you're playing
this [SOUND] right?
And then somebody goes to take a solo and
it's getting exciting [SOUND].
All right?
It just expands the rhythm part,
it creates a bigger kinda dynamic quality,
it makes the rhythm suddenly
sound really exciting.
Okay, so basically the rhythm pattern
itself is just down, up, down.
Nothing to it.
We can add the same sorts of rhythmic
fields that we were doing in open
For example,
[SOUND] right sort of like
the Robert Johnson feel there.
I go from G minor [SOUND] to G
major just by adding my
second finger there [SOUND].
Or I can do it more
as a hammer on it,
quicker feel [SOUND].
Now when I play triplets
in my right hand there,
I'm going from a shuffle [SOUND].
I'm using 2 consecutive up strokes.
Down, up, down.
And that gets me back in the same
right hand pattern again.
There's different ways to do that, but
that's just a comfortable way for me.
Now, with that sort of pattern.
When you go to the four chord C,
rather than staying in position [SOUND].
And switching the rhythm to
a different texture [SOUND].
You just go up the neck, and
you play C in the eighth
position [SOUND].
And use the same turn around
that we've been using all along.
All right, let's try that over the G
rhythm section, the 12 barre blues in G.
I'll throw another idea or
two in there and then we'll talk after.
Okay, here we go.
So that's about as big
as it gets right there.
It feels like we got
a whole band going on.
So, really expanding the dynamic
range of the boogie shuffle with that
pattern there.
Now one thing that I did that was
a little bit of an addition, when it was
time to change to the C chord, I [SOUND]
went and played that G nine with triplets.
And what that does is start
to build the energy, and
you feel that transition coming.
It's a tipoff to
the chain [SOUND] Right?
It's one of the things I notice
when I listen to records and
played with guys that were familiar
with the style of Chicago blues.
In Chicago the rhythm in the guitar
players tended to be a lot more colorful
and a lot more interactive.
And the whole sound of the rhythm
section was more improvisational.
And so we are listening to each other, it
was in a sense, it was like a jazz band.
We have become accustomed to the more kind
of produced and polished version of blues.
Where people have a set rhythm pattern and
they all play that same pattern together
like you would on a rock record.
But the old school blues sound,
the guys were more,
they were using different textures and
they would pull stuff out of the air.
And if the solo was starting to stake off,
they can add more dynamic variety and just
make it sound that much more exciting.
It's really spontaneous and live.
So that's what we're going for
is to have enough rhythmic
vocabulary under your fingers.
That you can improvise your rhythms
the same way that ultimately you improvise
your solos.
You're inspired by what
you hear around you and
you respond to that rather than
playing always the same set pattern.
And that's when the music
really comes alive.
Have some fun with that one,
then we'll come back again.