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Careful Solo, Continued
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from Andy Aledort’s Kings of Blues & Rock, Volume 1: Johnny Winter
This month picks up from our last lesson, which was based on Johnny Winter’s solo in “Be Careful with a Fool,” from his latest Columbia release Johnny Winter. This breakdown begins with bar seven from the 12-bar form, still relying on the C minor pentatonic but with occasional forays into C major pentatonic, as well as a brief visit to the G minor pentatonic.
The first measure begins on the I chord and utilizes the C major pentatonic at the 15th fret. Bend the B string up a whole step and hold it while hitting the G on the high E string. Use the middle finger for the bend and ring finger for the static note, or bend with the ring finger and hold the note with your pinky – whatever method feels best to you. The next measure repeats the same riff with a change-up at the end to keep things interesting.
Moving to the V chord, the third bar features some Winterapproved eighth note triplets utilizing hammer-ons and pull-offs on the low E and A strings. Keep a sharp eye out for the half-step pull-off before sliding up to the G minor pentatonic scale to finish up the measure.
The next measure features a double-stop over the IV chord and ends with a country-blues flavored C octave as it segues back to the I chord in measure 5. This has a unique sound played up high on the neck, harkening back to open-position blues riffs, where octaves are more commonplace. This technique was used to great effect by one of Johnny’s heroes, Muddy Waters.
It’s been said that Johnny Winter knows more blues licks than anyone alive, and he has the talent to squeeze an almost impossible amount of licks into everything he plays. He never sounds like he’s aimlessly running up and down the fretboard because he creates one great idea after another.
You can hear his influences, but he always retains his identity. Take each lick and learn it individually, then put what you’ve learned together. The next challenge is to make it sound as effortless as Johnny!
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