#83 – Scuttle Buttin’ – solo & tutorial

It’s been over two years since I published an entry in my 100 Greatest Guitar Solos lesson series, and I never stopped getting questions about when I’d get back around to it. I figured the new year is as good a time as any to jump back in. I actually learned this solo quite a while back. I’ve been coming back to it occasionally, slowly working it up to speed. I’m not quite there yet, but I’ll get there.

There’s lots of cool stuff going on in this solo. Not being a blues guy myself, it was interesting getting inside the mind of a legendary bluesman like SRV. He sticks entirely to the E blues scale for most of the first chorus. The exceptions being the B7#9 (well Bb7#9, since he’s tuned down) chord he bangs out and the descending 3rds near the end (which yield a b9 and b13 over the V chord)

The second chorus features a cool tritone lick that really exemplifies the blues tonality for me. Sliding between two tritones a half step apart, SRV gets the 3rd, b7th, #9th, and 13th. It’s something I’d never think to do, but I’m glad I’ve got that little trick in my bag now (in case I ever find myself in a surprise blues jam).

What fascinates me about these first two choruses is how SRV seems to really dislike the IV chord. He just sort of bullshits his way through those two bars both times, aggressively repeating the same notes as if he’s anxious for that moment to be over. It certainly works, but it’s still curious. The third chorus has a much more inspired lick over the IV chord, hitting a quick little b9 as well as a couple chromatic notes.

Probably the coolest thing about learning this solo is that you’re sort of learning the whole song when you do! The song is less than two minutes long, and the solo incorporates the main riff of the tune. I might just have to learn this whole thing!

What’s the difference between C major and A minor?

This is a question I see/hear asked a lot. Much like confusion over modes (it’s pretty much the same question), the reason people have this question is because they’re focusing on the wrong thing! If you’re just looking at the notes, then there isn’t any obvious difference. However, if you focus on the intervals and how all the notes relate to the tonic, then the differences are really clear.

But what’s even more clear is the sounds! So give the video up there a watch and see if you can’t hear the difference.

How to use a metronome (and a lesson on rhythm)

I see people ask this question quite a bit online, and I’m usually not sure how to answer it. Often times it seems the people asking it just have a general lack of understanding as to how rhythm works. I imagine they wouldn’t have the question if that more fundamental issue was fixed, so while the video goes over some different things you can do with the metronome and talks a little bit about rhythm in general, I’d like to provide a more in-depth lesson on rhythm here.

I say it all the time, but it bears repeating: absolutes mean very little in music. This is especially true with rhythm! Rhythm is all about how long one note is compared to another, and we measure the length of a note in “beats”. How long is a beat? That depends… In a slower song, a beat could be one whole second or more. In a fast song, you could have two or three beats a second. The important thing to understand is that a beat is just a beat. It can be any amount of time, but it’s always one beat, and it is constant. Turn your metronome on… those are beats. It just clicks at a regular interval of time.

As I said before, we measure the length of notes in beats. Some notes are one beat long. Some notes are two beats long. Some notes are only half a beat long (which means you can squeeze two notes into one beat). Theoretically, notes can be infinitesimally small, but for the sake of practicality, let’s say the shortest possible note is just 1/4th of a beat, meaning we can cram four of those guys into a single beat. Try playing just one note per beat for a while. Count 1 2 3 4 as you do it (counting each number as you play each note). Now try playing two notes per beat. Count 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & as you do it. Now try four notes per beat. You can count 1 e & a 2 e & a 3 e & a 4 e & a, but people often stumble over that, as it’s a mouthful. I prefer, instead, to simply say “watermelon” over and over, with each syllable landing on a note.

This should be pretty simple so far. Things get more complicated as you start to mix and match notes of different lengths, add in rests (which are just measured moments of silence), and combine notes in different ways. Hopefully what’s here is helpful though. I’d like to do something that really gets into the nitty-gritty of rhythm in the future, but that will take a little bit more planning.

Time Of The Preacher – solo & tutorial

I’ve always loved this song. It’s so simple, but really effective. That’s especially true for the solo, which sticks almost entirely to chord tones. This requires a bit of jumping around the neck, but moving between chord shapes is a great way to go about doing that.

It’s not a terribly difficult solo either, so it’s a good pick for folks looking to try something that doesn’t limit itself to a single position scale.

How to play “Rumble”

I probably teach this song to a new student once a week, and I NEVER get tired of playing it. There are very few songs cooler than “Rumble”. If you’ve seen “It Might Get Loud”, you may remember the scene where Jimmy Page gets incredibly giddy just listening to it. That scene just makes me love it even more. If Jimmy Page is reduced to a giggling school boy upon listening to it, you should be too.

It’s a really simple song. It’s basically a 12 bar blues in E, except you play a couple D chords every couple bars. Once you get to the turnaround, you just play a simple descending E minor pentatonic scale.

Piece o’cake.

Jingle Bell Rock – chords & analysis

Somebody on Reddit was asking about this tune, specifically “how the chords worked”. It had never really occurred to me, but this tune offers several excellent examples of some very common types of non-diatonic chords! Secondary dominants, ascending diminished chords, altered dominants, even the subdominant minor!

All this, with an almost entirely diatonic melody!

What’s a scale, and how do I use it?

People often have a difficult time understanding the point of scales; questioning why they need to learn them, how to practice them, etc. But it seems that few of the people asking these questions actually get satisfying (or comprehensible) answers. Isn’t there some simple way to explain it? Isn’t there some way that a total beginner can see how learning scales will impact their playing and understanding of music?

Yes, there is… now that I did it.