Useful Exercises For Chicago Blues And Old School Rock

author: chris flatley date: 07/30/2012 category: soloing
rating: 8.8 / votes: 23 
Useful Exercises For Chicago Blues And Old School Rock
This style of music may be a little pass these days, but if you are interested in playing old school Chicago blues type rock of the Hendrix, Clapton, Buddy Guy variety, then these sorts of exercises are absolutely essential for rounding out your licks, and making them sound much more musical, and much less angular, clunky, and scaley. Even though this is primarily aimed at those that want to play pentatonic based old school rock, I believe they're valuable exercises no matter what style you want to play. They're designed to make you fluent in an area that is easily overlooked when practicing scales. These exercises focus on playing notes on the same fret but different strings, something that never happens when you just play up and down a pentatonic minor scale. It's impossible to play Hendrix/Clapton style solos without being totally fluent in these areas. I'd go even further, and say it's impossible to play anything melodically well-rounded without these skills. I'll write out the first exercise, then talk a little about how they should be played. As these sets of exercises are all played on just two strings at a time, To save time and space, I'm just going to tab the pairs of strings that are being used, so look at the letter names to the left to know which pair they're played on. Ex#1
E|5-----8-----5-|
B|--5-8---8-5---|

B|5-----8-----5-|
G|--5-7---7-5---|

G|5-----7-----5-|
D|--5-7---7-5---|

D|5-----7-----5-|
A|--5-7---7-5---|

A|5-----7-----5-|
E|--5-8---8-5---|
Now play them again in reverse order to complete the set. thing about these exercises - apart from playing them with a fluently well-timed groove - is that they're individual notes, and so shouldn't be held down and overlapped as if they're little bar chords. So to play the notes on the 5th fret with the first finger, you need to make a little bar. You then play the note on the higher string using the pad of the finger, then kind of roll up onto the tip to play the note on the lower string. This means that as you roll up onto the tip to fret the lower string, you also lift the pad just enough to dampen the previously played note. The result should be two clearly defined notes with no overlap. This is so important for crisply defined phrasing. Do it the other way around for pairs of notes that begin on the lower string, that is, play the note with the tip of the finger, then roll the pad down onto the higher string to play the next note while simultaneously raising the tip to dampen the previous note. The same technique can be used for the notes on the 7th and 8th frets. Whether you choose to use 2nd, 3rd, or 4th fingers is up to you. I think both Clapton and Hendrix use their 2nd fingers for the notes that are a step above, in this case those on the 7th, and their 3rd fingers for the notes that are a step and a half above, in this case 8th fret. I personally use 3rd for both, but I mix it up a little depending on what I'm doing. Do what feels comfortable. Here are some more exercises. As above, play them in reverse order to complete the set. Ex#2
E|8-----5-----8-|
B|--8-5---5-8---|

B|8-----5-----8-|
G|--7-5---5-7---|

G|7-----5-----7-|
D|--7-5---5-7---|

D|7-----5-----7-|
A|--7-5---5-7---|

A|7-----5-----7-|
E|--8-5---5-8---|
Ex#3
E|--5-8---8-5---|
B|5-----8-----5-|

B|--5-8---8-5---|
G|5-----7-----5-|

G|--5-7---7-5---|
D|5-----7-----5-|

D|--5-7---7-5---|
A|5-----7-----5-|

A|--5-7---7-5---|
E|5-----8-----5-|
Ex#4
E|--8-5---5-8---|
B|8-----5-----8-|

B|--8-5---5-8---|
G|7-----5-----7-|

G|--7-5---5-7---|
D|7-----5-----7-|

D|--7-5---5-7---|
A|7-----5-----7-|

A|--7-5---5-7---|
E|8-----5-----8-|
Ex#5
E|5---8---|
B|--5---8-|

B|5---8---|
G|--5---7-|

G|5---7---|
D|--5---7-|

D|5---7---|
A|--5---7-|

A|5---7---|
E|--5---8-|
Ex#6
E|8---5---|
B|--8---5-|

B|8---5---|
G|--7---5-|

G|7---5---|
D|--7---5-|

D|7---5---|
A|--7---5-|

A|7---5---|
E|--8---5-|
Ex#7
E|--5---8-|
B|5---8---|

B|--5---8-|
G|5---7---|

G|--5---7-|
D|5---7---|

D|--5---7-|
A|5---7---|

A|--5---7-|
E|5---8---|
Ex#8
E|--8---5-|
B|8---5---|

B|--8---5-|
G|7---5---|

G|--7---5-|
D|7---5---|

D|--7---5-|
A|7---5---|

A|--7---5-|
E|8---5---|
Ex#9
E|5-----5-----|
B|--5-8---5-8-|

B|5-----5-----|
G|--5-7---5-7-|

G|5-----5-----|
D|--5-7---5-7-|

D|5-----5-----|
A|--5-7---5-7-|

A|5-----5-----|
E|--5-8---5-8-|
Ex#10
E|----5-----5-|
B|8-5---8-5---|

B|----5-----5-|
G|7-5---7-5---|

G|----5-----5-|
D|7-5---7-5---|

D|----5-----5-|
A|7-5---7-5---|

A|----5-----5-|
E|8-5---8-5---|
Ex#11
E|--5-8---5-8-|
B|5-----5-----|

B|--5-8---5-8-|
G|5-----5-----|

G|--5-7---5-7-|
D|5-----5-----|

D|--5-7---5-7-|
A|5-----5-----|

A|--5-7---5-7-|
E|5-----5-----|
Ex#12
E|8-5---8-5---|
B|----5-----5-|

B|8-5---8-5---|
G|----5-----5-|

G|7-5---7-5---|
D|----5-----5-|

D|7-5---7-5---|
A|----5-----5-|

A|7-5---7-5---|
E|----5-----5-|
Ex#13
E|--8-5---8-5-|
B|8-----8-----|

B|--8-5---8-5-|
G|7-----7-----|

G|--7-5---7-5-|
D|7-----7-----|

D|--7-5---7-5-|
A|7-----7-----|

A|--7-5---7-5-|
E|8-----8-----|
Ex#14
E|5-8---5-8---|
B|----8-----8-|

B|5-8---5-8---|
G|----7-----7-|

G|5-7---5-7---|
D|----7-----7-|

D|5-7---5-7---|
A|----7-----7-|

A|5-7---5-7---|
E|----8-----8-|
Ex#15
E|--5-----5-|
B|5---5-8---|

B|--5-----5-|
G|5---5-7---|

G|--5-----5-|
D|5---5-7---|

D|--5-----5-|
A|5---5-7---|

A|--5-----5-|
E|5---5-8---|
Ex#16
E|--8-----5-|
B|8---8-5---|

B|--8-----5-|
G|7---7-5---|

G|--7-----5-|
D|7---7-5---|

D|--7-----5-|
A|7---7-5---|

A|--7-----5-|
E|8---8-5---|
Obviously there are an endless number of variations of these sorts of exercises. Already feel as if I've laboured the point with just 16, but you should really practice these things a lot. You need to be able to throw these sorts of phrases in at any time without disrupting the groove. I doubt you'll ever see a Chicago blues type solo that doesn't contain this sort of thing. Here's an example of probably the most clichd phrase in rock/blues... clichd because it sounds good, if played fluently and well defined!
E|------5-----5-|
B|----5---5-8---|
G|7b8-----------|
D|--------------|
A|--------------|
E|--------------|
More chris flatley lessons:
+ Improving General Rhythmic Coordination For Beginners 12/04/2012
+ Relieving Fretting Hand Tension Correct Practice 08/01/2012
+ Picking And Fretting Fundamentals Correct Practice 07/17/2012
+ How Well Do You Know Your Stuff? Correct Practice 06/29/2012
+ A Simple Blues Lesson Soloing 05/04/2012
+ Interesting Patterns Scales 04/30/2012
+ view all
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