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from Jeff Scheetz's Blues Rock: Secret Sauce
This rhythm is another good one to whip out at jam night. It works
because the pattern can be used heavy or clean, and can be
played at a variety of different tempos – you could do a half-time
version as a slow blues and then kick it up a couple notches to
rock out. You can apply this trick to all of your rhythm patterns;
you’ll notice how different the same chords and patterns sound
when you apply dynamics and effects.
The rhythm in the following example is pretty straight forward, and
has a cool, nasty blues rock sound to it. It’s great to play when
you get together and jam with some friends, because then it
opens up and utilizes a Fmaj and Bbm, giving you a couple of different
sounds to play over.
The first thing we want to look at with this progression is the fact
that we’re actually playing seventh chords. Often, when we’re playing
rock or anything with a lot of distortion behind it, we’re not going to
be playing a lot of 7th chords – we’ll be playing more of our power
chords, because the I and V sound great with distortion. When you
play with distortion, that sets off other notes in the harmonic universe
and sometimes those notes clash – a Dm7 like we’re playing here
actually works well with distortion. You can get by with a D dominant
7, but you’ll find that a Dmaj7 gets pretty nasty, so remember you
can’t always play major 7 chords with distortion.
In terms of the Dm7, instead of using the bar chord form, we’ll use
a shape where you will play on the tenth fret with your second
finger, and then play the fourth, third and second strings with your
third finger. Your second finger will lean on the fifth string, effectively
muting it. Many players call this a jazz voicing or an open
voicing, because we are removing the fifth in the low register,
which can get a little muddy, especially when distortion is added.
The jazz voicing keeps the sound cleaner.
The progression begins with a Dm7 and uses the same shape for
the move to Am7. We’ll continue moving down with that shape
and play the Ab (G#), but make note not to linger too long on that,
because it will sound nasty in the progression. You’ll end up on
the Gm7, which is the IV chord in the progression, and perform
the slide in bar 2 with your third finger, since it should already be
As we move into the fourth bar, you’ll encounter a quick lick,
which is really just bending at the fifth fret, and a series of quick
hammer-ons and pull offs before moving back into our main riff.
In bars 7 and 8, we’ll hit the Bb – you’d usually want to play this
chord with your third finger to leave your fourth finger for other
things, but in this case you’ll want to form the chord with your
fourth finger, so your third finger is ready to go on the fifth string
for the slide in bar 8.
When you’re using minor 7th chords, like in this arrangement, pay
special attention to the changes and try to solo by playing those
changes, referencing key tones in your solo. You can outline the
minor 7 chords by playing them as arpeggios in your solo. Keep
one ear on the rhythm and one ear on your solo.
You’ll definitely want to play around with this riff and how it feels
– try slowing it down and kicking into a slo blues progression;
amp up the distortion and transform these riffs into a really heavy
rock thing; thin it out and go with a cleaner sound to make it more
of a funk progression. Try moving it to different keys and see how
it changes. Next month, we’ll head back soloing.
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