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Old 09-07-2004, 04:27 PM   #1
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"Guitar Licks"- Eric Clapton

"Guitar Licks" Installment 2: Eric Clapton

by: Danfan3


Welcome to the second installment of "Guitar Licks." Today we will be looking at the licks of one of the most famous guitarists of all time- Eric Clapton. Eric Clapton started out by playing in the band The Yardbirds before moving onto one of the most influential rock bands of all time, Cream. Cream wrote such rock classics like "Strange Brew", "White Room", and "Sunshine of Your Love." After Cream, he went on to form a band called Derek and the Dominos, which only produced one studio album, but it was one of the most influential rock albums of all time. He played guitar alongside Duane Allman in Derek and the Dominos, and the album ("Layla and other Assorted Love Songs") turned out to be a classic. He then went on to start solo work which lead up to what some people call his greatest album from 1977, "Slowhand." This album had many classics including "Cocaine", "Lay Down Sally", and "Wonderful Tonight." Today we will be looking at some of his licks from Cream, Derek and the Dominos, and some of his solo work from the album "Slowhand."

TONE:

Eric Clapton's tone was always a raw, bluesy tone which came from his playing of mostly Fender Strat guitars but he also played Gibson Les Pauls around the Cream-era. I would set your treble to around 5 or 6, middle to around 4 or 5, and the bass to around 2 or 3. The gain is determined by how much distortion you want but sometimes he would leave the guitar clean to get a twangy sound especially on the solo for "Cocaine."

SCALES:

Eric Clapton was mostly influenced by blues music, so he tends to use the pentatonic and blues scales. You might notice some similarities between his and Jimmy Page's guitar playing, since they both were influenced by blues music but they also wanted to play rock. Below are the same two scale shapes we used for our last installment on Jimmy Page. If you want to be able to make your own rock-blues solos then you must learn these two scale shapes. He might add more notes to these scales but we will go over those when we talk about the licks.

Pentatonic Minor Scale/Blues Scale

Code:
|---X----|-----------|----------|-----0----| |---0----|-----------|----------|-----0----| |---0----|-----------|----0-----|-----#----| |---0----|---------- |----X-----|----------| |---0----|----#------|----0-----|----------| |---X----|-----------|----------|-----0----|


X=Root Note
0=Scale Notes
# = Blues Note




Pentatonic Minor Scale/Blues Scale (Version #2)

Code:
|---0----|----------|----------|-----0-----|----------| |--------|----0-----|----------|-----0-----|----#-----| |---0----|----------|----X-----|-----------|----------| |---0----|----#-----|----0-----|-----------|----------| |---X----|----------|----------|-----0-----|----------| |--------|----------|----------|-----------|----------|


X = Root Note
0 = Scale Note
# = Blues Note



LICKS:

Lick #1: "Sunshine of Your Love"

For our first lick today, we will be looking at the first few measures from the solo of the Cream song "Sunshine of Your Love."

Code:
|----------------------|-------------------------------------------|---------------------|---------------| |----------------------|------------12-----------------------------|----------------9b10-|---------------| |-12b14-12b14vvvvvvvv--|--12-12b14------12b14-12b14--12-12b14vvvvv-|-9b11r7---9--7--9b11-|--7vvvvv-------| |----------------------|-------------------------------------------|---------------------|---------------| |----------------------|-------------------------------------------|---------------------|---------------| |----------------------|-------------------------------------------|---------------------|---------------|


The solo is at first played with the main riff played behind it:

Main Riff of "Sunshine of Your Love"



Code:
|-------------------------|-------------------------| |-------------------------|-------------------------| |-------------------------|-------------------------| |-12-12--10--12-----------|-------------------------| |-----------------12---11-|-10--------8vvv----------| |-------------------------|-----10----------10-10---|


The main riff of this song is based around the key of D minor except for the chromatic Ab note in the 2nd measure (11 in tab). This is used as a passing note which could also serve as the b5th in the key of D minor which gives the riff a bluesy feel.

Clapton centers the opening of the solo around the D minor pentatonic/blues scale version 1. Once again we see another great solo start off by bending the 4th of the scale up to the 5th of the scale (G to A, 12b14 in tab). This is a tip that we covered when we went over the solo techniques of Jimmy Page. Clapton starts the solo off by bending the 12 to the 14 once really quickly before bending it again and adding some vibrato, while sustaining the note. This is a common bluesy phrasing that many guitarists use where you bend up to a note, bend back down, and bend up again, but you usually only pluck the string once at the beginning of this phrasing, but here Clapton picks the 12 in tab, 2 separate times. Here is an example of the technique I am talking about:

Code:
|--------------| |--------------| |-5b7r5b7------| |--------------| |--------------| |--------------|


In this example of this blues technique, you pluck the 5 in tab and bend it up to 7 and then the release it back down to the 5th string (r stands for release) and then without plucking it, bend it back up to the 7. You need to have sustain to do this technique and let the note ring throughout the whole bend.

In the next measure of this lick he does a similar technique with plucking the 12 in tab and then plucking it again and bending it up to the 14th fret. Clapton is trying to emphasize this bend, since he is playing it a lot. He then plucks a note outside of the D minor pentatonic/blues scale which is the B note or the 6th note of the scale (12 in tab). The 6th note is a common note that many guitarists use. He then goes back into some similar bends with the 12 and 14 in tab. Clapton uses bending a lot in his guitar playing to get a crying effect out of the guitar. In the third measure he plays in an extended version of the D minor pentatonic/blues scale version 2. When I say extended I mean the scale stretches a few more frets (this time to the 9th fret). He does a common bend from the E note (9 in tab) to a note that is not in the D minor scale which is the F# note. Clapton might of used this note to get a major sound since he is playing in D minor and an F# note would make a D minor chord, a D major chord. He then releases this bend and pulls off to the D string (7 in tab) to resolve the lick. He then plays an E note and then another D note to emphasize that the lick is resolved. He then creates tension again by going away from the D note and bending the E note up to the F# note again, and at the same time he bends a G# note up to an A note. This is to create some tension but end the bend on a chord tone, and the A note is the 5th note of a D minor chord. He then resolves the lick by playing a D note in the next measure.

LICK #2: "Bell Bottom Blues"

After Cream, Eric Clapton went on to form the band Derek and the Dominos. First we look at a lick from the beginning of the song "Bell Bottom Blues."




Code:
F G7 |13-------------10---------| |--13-11------------11-----| |--------12b14-------------| |--------------------------| |--------------------------| |--------------------------|


This is the lick that plays right after the finger-picked intro and before the verse starts. It is used to create some tension before going into the verse. The lick is a great fast blues lick and it is based mostly around the D minor pentatonic/blues scale version 1. It is a great scale to use since many of the notes in D minor pentatonic fit the F and G7 chords being played behind the lick. The lick starts off by first playing the F and C note which are both notes of the F chord (both 13's in tab). Then Clapton plays a Bb note (11 in tab) which is an added 6th note to the D minor pentatonic scale and is used as the 4th of the F major scale, since it is played on top of an F chord. He then plays an emotional bend from the 4th to the 5th which helps lead into the G7 chord (the 4th in this case is a G bending up to the 5th which is an A). He then plays two notes, a D (10 in tab) and a Bb (11 in tab). This creates a minor feel over a major chord since the Bb acts like the b3rd note in a G minor chord. It is always good to sometimes play notes outside of the scale so it fits the song more like how Clapton used the Bb note in this lick to create a minor feel. The contrast between the minor and major sound creates an emotional lick.
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Last edited by Danfan3 : 09-07-2004 at 06:41 PM.
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Old 09-07-2004, 04:28 PM   #2
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"Guitar Licks"- Eric Clapton Part 2

Lick #3: "Layla"

For our third lick, we will actually be looking at one of the most famous riffs of all time from the song by Derek and the Dominos called "Layla." I know that Eric Clapton did not write 100% of this song and that Duane Allman was the one that is sometimes credited for this riff and that Jim Gordon is also credited for this song, but let's look at this riff anyways.

Code:
|--------10h13------10-|-13b15--13--12-----10-|-------10h13------10-|-15b17--15--12------10-| |-10h13---------13-----|----------------13----|-10h13--------13-----|----------------13-----| |----------------------|----------------------|---------------------|-----------------------| |----------------------|----------------------|---------------------|-----------------------| |----------------------|----------------------|---------------------|-----------------------| |----------------------|----------------------|---------------------|-----------------------|


This lick is based on the D minor pentatonic/blues scale version 1. This is the lick used for the chorus and the chorus is in D minor. In the verses the key changes to C# minor. The lick starts off with two fast hammer-ons which highlight the four notes of a Dmin7 chord, which is a bluesy chord. The first hammer-on highlights the A note (10 in tab) and the C note (13 in tab). The second hammer-on highlights the D note (10 in tab) and the F note (13 in tab). The lick then holds two quarter notes, the C note (13 in tab) and this emphasizes the b7th of a Dmin7 chord. Then the D note is played (10 in tab) which emphasizes the root note of the scale and of a Dmin7 chord. I don't think there are any chords being played behind this riff except maybe power chords but these two hammer-ons are a good way to highlight the notes of the tonic chord, while adding a bluesy sound which is the b7th or the C note. The lick then goes into the second measure and descends a few notes by first bending up from the F to the G note (13b15 in tab) then down to the F note (13 in tab), and then down to the E note (12 in tab). Then the same two notes are played at the end of the measure, the same two notes played at the end of the first measure. The next measure repeats the same thing as the first measure. The last measure starts on a full step higher than what the second measure started on (this time a G note instead of a F note). When it starts on the G note this time, it bends up to the A note and then goes back down to the G note and then to the F note before ending the riff the same way each measure ended, by playing the C note and then the D note which resolves the riff. This riff is a good example of how emphasizing certain notes, can make your riffs or licks sound better especially in blues music when you emphasize the b7th note and contrast it to the tonic note, which is what the ending C to the D note does.

Lick #4: "Cocaine"

For our last lick today we will be looking at a great unison-bend lick from the solo from the song "Cocaine."

Solo Lick #1:

Code:
|----------|------------------------------|--------------------------|----------------------------| |---12-----|--12------12------------12----|----12-------12---12---12-|----------------------------| |---14b16--|--14b16---14b16---------14b16-|---(16)r14---14---14------|--14b16--12-----------------| |----------|------------------------------|--------------------------|--------------12-14--14--12-| |----------|------------------------------|--------------------------|----------------------------| |----------|------------------------------|--------------------------|----------------------------|


This is a lick that is towards the beginning of the solo. The solo is played over the main riff:

Code:
|------------------------------| |------------------------------| |-9---9---7---9----------7-----| |-9---9---7---9----------7-----| |-7---7---5---7----------5-----| |------------------------------|


The main riff goes from an E5 chord to a D5 chord and then back to an E5 chord, then the riff ends on a D5 chord.

Clapton plays the solo mostly in the E minor pentatonic/blues scale version 1. The song is in E mixolydian, which means it is in the key of A major, but the song is centered around the E chord which is the 5th chord of the key of A major. This is why Clapton plays the solo in E minor pentatonic/blues scale because the song is centered around the E chord. In this first lick he uses a common blues technique called unison-bending. This is when you play two notes at the same time, but bend one of the notes up to the pitch of the other note. In this lick he plays a B note (12 in tab) and an A note (14 in tab) but bends the A note up to the 16 fret which is a B note so that after he bends it there are two B notes being played at the same time. It will take practice but you need to play both notes at the same time and make the bend fast and you need to also make sure you get the B note pitch correct. He plays this same unison-bend into the next measure, and these B notes emphasize the 5th of the E5 chord that is playing in the chord progression. In the third measure he releases the bend from the 16th fret to the 14th fret and then he creates tension by playing an A note and a B note at the same time (the 12 and 14 in tab). He then ends the third measure by playing a B note. In the fourth measure he does the a common bend from the 4th to the 5th note (14b16 in tab). He then plays a G note and plays a D note and then an E note. The measure ends with him playing an E note and then a D note. This highlights the root notes of the two chords in the main riff, E5 and D5.

I hope you learned something today about Eric Clapton's guitar playing style. Remember that if you want to play some Clapton type licks to always contrast between tension notes and then root notes which resolve a lick. Also use bending a lot to get a crying effect and bend the same note over and over again to create more tension. Remember to also emphasize chord tones. Tune in next week when we look at the hard rock licks of Angus Young and I will also look at the whole solo to the song "Highway to Hell."
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Old 09-07-2004, 04:32 PM   #3
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if you look at the solo to sunshine, especially the part you tabbed, Eric is actually switching between major and minor pentatonics of D, you should probably mention that. And the Ab in the riff is actually the b5, so the riff is derived from the blues scale, might wanna mention that.
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Old 09-07-2004, 04:35 PM   #4
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^^^ no need now....
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Old 09-07-2004, 04:37 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally posted by beatallica_fan
if you look at the solo to sunshine, especially the part you tabbed, Eric is actually switching between major and minor pentatonics of D, you should probably mention that. And the Ab in the riff is actually the b5, so the riff is derived from the blues scale, might wanna mention that.


I did say that about the Ab being the b5th, but good point about the switching between major and minor pentatonics, I mentioned that somewhat too when I was talking about using the F# note.
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Old 09-07-2004, 06:15 PM   #6
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Great lesson. Is it going to be stickied?
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Old 09-07-2004, 06:18 PM   #7
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Cas said it would be stickied, thanks for the comment, I am glad that I made a great lesson
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Old 09-08-2004, 12:43 PM   #8
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Yeah, I like the way you break down the playing of the giants, theory wise. It's a nice idea and I'm glad someone has the patience to do it.

I hope it's not just a great lesson, but a great <i>series</i> of lessons to come.

Don't let that put you off, though, and keep up the good work!
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Old 09-08-2004, 02:57 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by Punkarse
Yeah, I like the way you break down the playing of the giants, theory wise. It's a nice idea and I'm glad someone has the patience to do it.

I hope it's not just a great lesson, but a great <i>series</i> of lessons to come.

Don't let that put you off, though, and keep up the good work!


Thank you I really appreciate it, the good news is that I am planning for this to be a series and this is the second edition. The first edition is on Jimmy Page and it is in the Archives of Best Threads now. Next week (it should be out by Monday) is on Angus Young.
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Old 09-08-2004, 04:01 PM   #10
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I think this a great idea for a thread. I look forward to seeing the Angus Young one.
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Old 09-08-2004, 11:05 PM   #11
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id love some hendrix bluesy licks described if it isnt too much of a bother for a future lesson
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Old 09-10-2004, 12:22 PM   #12
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most of this is gonna be the pentatonic minor and blues scales isnt it, i dont have a problem with that, dont get me wrong, but it would be nice to get into some more complicated theory

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Old 09-10-2004, 12:36 PM   #13
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Originally posted by TNfootballfan62
most of this is gonna be the pentatonic minor and blues scales isnt it, i dont have a problem with that, dont get me wrong, but it would be nice to get into some more complicated theory



you need to read my lessons my friend, especially the next 2 or 3, some seriously trippy stuff coming up.
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Old 09-10-2004, 02:59 PM   #14
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Originally posted by TNfootballfan62
most of this is gonna be the pentatonic minor and blues scales isnt it, i dont have a problem with that, dont get me wrong, but it would be nice to get into some more complicated theory



It is only the second article, give it time. I am a huge jazz theory guy so pretty soon this stuff is going to start getting more complicated when I review people like Wes Montgomery. I wanted to start the articles with guitarists that everyone has heard of.
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Old 09-11-2004, 09:35 AM   #15
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you need to read my lessons my friend, especially the next 2 or 3, some seriously trippy stuff coming up.


i certainly will, though i havent been, i guess i need to start
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Old 09-11-2004, 09:37 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally posted by Danfan3
It is only the second article, give it time. I am a huge jazz theory guy so pretty soon this stuff is going to start getting more complicated when I review people like Wes Montgomery. I wanted to start the articles with guitarists that everyone has heard of.


sweet, i cant wait, b.t.w., great lessons, keep em coming
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Old 09-11-2004, 09:50 AM   #17
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Originally posted by TNfootballfan62
sweet, i cant wait, b.t.w., great lessons, keep em coming


Thank you, it really means a lot when people comment on my lessons
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Old 09-12-2004, 11:58 AM   #18
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man that must have taken ages
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