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Texas Shuffle: Solo
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from David Hamburger’s Blues Alchemy
Last month we looked at playing Texas Shuffle rhythms. This month we will cover soloing in that style and will look at ways to keep it nice and spicy by using chord tones from the I, IV and V throughout the tune.
The main focus is on accentuating the change from the I to the IV chord. We can do that by leaning on the major 3rd of C over the I chord, then lowering that note a half step over the IV. The solo opens with a Cmaj pentatonic phrase; to get to the 6th of the I chord, keep your index finger at the seventh fret.
The first phrase features a slide into the major 3rd, with the answer to the phrase continuing with the notes of Cmaj. When you get to the 5th, strike that note with an upstroke, with another upstroke on the G string, followed by a pull-off. The next phrase is a Cmaj arpeggio, and ends with a flatted 7th.
The same opening phrase can be played over the IV chord by simply lowering the note on the third string by a fret. We can also use the same answer phrase as before – just be sure to pull-off to the eighth fret instead of the ninth. For variation on the ending, slide the flatted 7th up to the root note.
For the turnaround of the G chord, hammer-on three times and then do a quick hammer-on pull-off, followed by a quarter step bend. You’re basically spelling out a Gmaj triad, except it sounds bluesier because of the hammer-on/pull-off and the quarter-step bend instead of a half step.
There are lots of variations you can take on our first example; our final example this month returns to the original idea of exploring the major 3rd on the I, and again playing through the changes, giving it a real Texas flavor. The previous example coupled with the following is a good example of how the interplay between major and minor pentatonic scales – in addition to playing chord tones over the changes – can help make blues solos more interesting.
A quick note before we leave you this month: a lot of the snap and bite that Albert Collins got out of his Telecaster had to do with the fact that he played with a capo and picked with his index finger instead of using a pick. You can still produce that Collins sound by palming your pick temporarily, then hooking your index finger under a string, pulling away from the guitar and then letting the string snap back to the fretboard. For extra credit, hammer on to another note immediately after.
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