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Blues Guitar Lessons: Double Stops 1

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In the last couple of lessons our focus
has been on rhythm, but
we've been integrating melodies
with the more traditional
bottom end patterns and
coming up with these sort of hybrid parts,
where there's a melodic component
to it and a rhythmic component.
Coming together at the same time and it's
sort of two parts in one and so forth.
And the little embellishments
we're putting in there,
a lot of them were two
notes at a time like.
And so forth or.
All right?
So what we're gonna do this time is take
that idea of playing two notes at once and
just explode it and really talk about
the melodic possibilities that exist
in playing two notes at a time, which
are known traditionally as double stops.
Now double stop,
just means you're stopping the strings in
two places at once and
playing the notes simultaneously.
Double stops come in different varieties,
but the most common in the kind of
music we're talking about here are third
intervals and sixth intervals.
Now when we talk about intervals and
numbers like that.
What we're describing is
the distance between two notes,
if I'm in the key of G, for example.
[SOUND] And I play the note G [SOUND] and
then I play the note
that is two steps below,
[SOUND] going down the G scale.
[SOUND] That is a third interval.
In other words, it contains three
notes between the low note and
the high note and to explain that.
[SOUND] That's E, F and G.
there are alphabet names that are
encompassed by that interval right there.
That's what makes it a third interval.
Now you don't have to get real
technical with that concept,
because blues players don't
need to do that really.
The way that we can access the sound of
third intervals is to play a melody on
the first string and then just harmonize
it and look at the shapes that result.
And you can hear it, very,
easily, if we [SOUND] play G7 and
say okay, I'm gonna play a G
scale on my first string.
Now in this case, for
the purposes of using third intervals,
we're gonna use a diatonic scale.
Not the pentatonic, but diatonic.
And that means we're gonna use
all the letters of the alphabet,
going up from G to its octave.
So I go [SOUND] G, A,
B, C, D, E, F, G.
I'm playing G7.
Of course, we're playing blues,
we're going to be concentrating
on seventh chords.
So F natural fits [SOUND] the G7 sound.
So that if you're going to put a name
on it is the G dominant scale.
It's the scale that fits
the G dominant seventh chord.
And if I harmonize every note of that
scale with the note that's a third below.
[SOUND] In other words, both notes in
the interval fit exactly
within that scale.
So it's not that I'm using the same
finger shape or the fingers are the same
distance apart, but I'm following
the scale in two places at once.
So I've got [SOUND] and I'm simultaneously
playing [SOUND] and the result is.
[SOUND] Right?
So there are third
intervals in the key of G.
Now there were two shapes there,
because the intervals are a slightly
different distance apart.
[SOUND] So the way I think of them,
the way I learned them
originally was just the fingers.
Third finger, first finger.
Second finger, first finger.
Same one again, then my third finger
[SOUND] and that third finger again.
Second finger, third finger.
[SOUND] And then finally, at the top.
it's a lot to remember at once, but
it's a shape that recurs
all over the place.
And as a result, once you learn it,
you can use it everywhere.
So [SOUND] or think of it as two
frets apart, one fret apart,
one fret apart, two, two, one, two, two.
It's another way to see it as just shapes.
And that pattern [SOUND] is gonna repeat,
no matter where the root is.
If I start on C.
Gonna run out of room up here.
[SOUND] Right?
And incidentally,
when you do get to the root,
it's typical to harmonize
it with a [SOUND] fourth.
We'll talk about that in a second.
It's more musical that way, it resolves.
So, I've got my third intervals.
And I wanna be able
to translate those to the four
chord in the key of C and then.
All right.
[COUGH] Now rather than thinking of those
as this technical collection of intervals
that you have to memorize,
which ultimately you do, but
you can do it in a more musical way.
Think of what does it remind you of?
And if I play.
Does that call up a song that
you might be familiar with?
If you listened to blues,
you've heard that song.
That's Sweet home Chicago and,
or Dust My Broom,
either one will work But you gotta.
All right.
That's a collection of third intervals
that defines that melody right there and
Robert Johnson played it and Elmore James
played it and it's just a classic sound.
So [SOUND] we've heard third
intervals being used all the time and
you might not have known what they were,
but there you go.
A player that built the bulk of his style
around third intervals was Chuck Berry,
who was not strictly speaking, what you
would call a blues guitar player, but
he certainly was very
much influenced by blues.
He copied T Bone Walker, among other
people and so you hear Chuck Berry.
Sort of Chuck Berry style melodies like
that, all based on third intervals.
So with those sounds in mind,
suddenly it makes sense that third
intervals are sort of
a blues phrasing device.
Now the advantage of double
stops is that it's thicker,
it has more kind of built in
energy than single notes.
And so I like to use them as a variation
[COUGH] when I'm playing solos,
so that I don't always play the same way.
The single notes on the high four strings,
that's what you do all the time.
You can do a lot with it, but
it's nice to have a variation in mind.
So [SOUND] in order to give you kind
of a foothold on third intervals,
I've written out both
the patterns themselves over one,
four and five in the key of G,
just picked an arbitrary key [SOUND] and
I've also written out a solo that
has third intervals built into it.
It shows you how you can arrange
them over one, four and five.
Now here's the tricky part
about thirds is that,
whereas we have a key center scale,
I'm in the key of G and
I can play [SOUND] kind of the G key
center sound over all three chords.
I don't really have to worry about
the changes, unless I choose to.
When you play third intervals,
you do have to worry about the changes,
because the harmonies are affected
by the changing chords.
So for example,
if I'm playing over a G chord.
comes C.
[SOUND] In order to follow
the harmony of the C chord and
not clash with it, I have to think of,
[SOUND] okay, this is G.
[SOUND] That note fits the G chord,
it's the third.
[SOUND] But that's the note that
fits the C chord, it's the seventh.
[SOUND] [COUGH] We know from learning how
to play chord tones that the third and
the seventh are the way to morph from
the one chord into the four chord and
from the one chord into the five chord.
Those are the key notes, right?
So we look for
those notes in the melody and
then we make those little adjustments and
you're playing changes.
So third intervals are a way to play
very melodically over the harmony,
so that's an idea that will be
illustrated by the solo that I show ya.
[SOUND] Just a note about the technique,
I'm using down strokes and
I'm just hammering every note
like I'm playing a piano.
These are common sounds in piano playing,
by the way, but
I can also separate the notes.
As we might here them in
a [SOUND] turnaround.
That's an example of double stops as well,
just a different set of intervals.
[SOUND] So you can play them as a really
aggressive kind of rhythmic idea or
you can make them a little bit sweeter
by separating them more melodic,
and so forth.
So [SOUND] lots of different ways
to phrase third intervals, but
the first thing to do is to kinda
get them under your fingers.
Now, as a practice thing,
to really master the shapes and
figure out how the third
intervals fit against all
the different chords,
in all the different keys,
sure enough, cycle of fours.
Take C, [SOUND] for example, and say,
I'm going to play third intervals in the
key of C, and you can start on any note.
You're just going to wind up
covering a lot of the neck, say
all right.
You can go all the way down to the open
string, there's C.
And then the next chord in the scale or
the cycle is F.
by going through the cycle like that,
[SOUND] B flat,
you start to see where the repetition is.
B flat.
E flat.
And so
In other words,
you're playing it like a scale.
You're learning the different shapes,
and, by the way,
I'm putting every single melody
note on the first string only.
I'm going this way instead
of across the neck.
Now, of course you can go
across the neck too, but
traditionally in blues you don't
hear players do it that often.
It's much more a thing of
staying on the high string and
following the melody up and down.
There was a guy back in the 20s,
Lonnie Johnson,
brilliant guitar player,
who really used third intervals.
He raised them to a high art.
So, those types of melodies,
were the melodies that Chuck Berry stole.
He was into Lonnie Johnson, right?
So, there's all this interplay
among the different players and
influences that you might not expect.
But that's a sound that's been around for
a long time.
Now, let me play a solo for
you over a shuffle in G, [SOUND] and
this will kinda show you the connections
that you can make with third intervals
by switching from one scale to the other,
when the change happens.
Okay, here we go.
Now, [COUGH] I sort of
covered the whole territory
there between the high G and the lower G.
But the key ingredient there
is making the changes,
when it went to the C chord and
the D chord, I was thinking where am I?
Where's that next chord?
What note do I have to adjust?
So, I've got my opening lick, which is the
just the classic down home blues style.
There's my
C sound, right?
[SOUND] Playing the C scale,
harmonize in thirds.
And then,
I'm gonna keep the melody going, down.
Here comes C.
I use a little piece of that Chicago
blues rhythm that we're talking about.
comes D.
Here's C.
I can't remember how I finished the dang
thing up, but I'll lay it out for ya so
you can see how the different
connections were made.
But those were third intervals, and
third intervals show up in the playing
of a lot of different guitar players.
Freddy King, boy, you wouldn't
hear Albert King use them so
much cuz he's really a single note guy.
B.B. King uses them sparingly.
But I would say it's more in the territory
of the more aggressive styles of players,
because they want that big driving sound,
and that's what third intervals give you.
So, the hardcore practice aspect of it
is playing the third intervals up and
down the string in all the keys.
And then,
the more musical application of it is
to take that chord progression there.
And build a solo, and use the third
intervals to go up and down and
find where the connections are.
And you can tell right away if you hit the
wrong note when the key change happens or
the chord change happens.
You'll know it, and
you'll figure that out pretty quick.
That's the way I did it.
It was just sort of trial and error.
But now, I've got a little bit
more of a methodology to it.
I understand how they're put together.
So, that's what I'm passing along to you.
So, play around with the third intervals.
And we'll come back, and
we'll look at another common interval
that you hear in blues solos.