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12 Bar in A
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from David Hamburger’s Fingerstyle Blues Handbook 2
This is the first tune from the Fingerstyle Blues Handbook 2
that’s in the key of A and it’s an actual 12-bar blues. We’re going to be doing some hammer-ons and pull-off licks and also learn a really cool D7 chord with an F sharp note in the bass – very exotic. This song should be played with a straight eights feel.
But before we begin picking, a quick introduction. The D7 with the F# in the bass will add a little flavor to what would otherwise just be a stock 12-bar tune. The F# is found on the second fret on your low E; you can play this note with your thumb, or you can bring a finger all the way across the fretboard to do it. Since the chord itself is only three notes, using your finger will keep your pinky free for melody notes. With your index finger above the first fret of the second string, your ring finger on the second fret of the third string and the middle finger on the second fret of the low string, we’ll do a hammer-on in measure 5 to fully form the chord. Try the hammer-on by itself first to see if you can get some volume and clarity there, and then pinch with the low string and try it with the fourth string as well. Once you can orchestrate all of these actions simultaneously on the downbeat, you’ll be ready to roll.
The other thing we are going to do with the D7 chord is a pull-off, also found in measure 5. We’ll start with the index finger on the C note, the first fret on the second string; pull your finger towards the ground and away from the string to produce some volume. If you’re getting a lot of sound from the high E as you do this, you can try resting a finger from your right hand on the string to mute it. Just keep practicing until the pull-off rings clearly, and without having to use your right hand to deaden the high E; you don’t want to become dependent on shortcuts like that. Once you have these concepts down with our exotic D7 chord, you’ll be able to transfer them to other parts of the song, most notably the A chord that opens the song.
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