Premier Guitar

Premier Clinic: Fingerstyle

September 10, 2007

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from David Hamburger’s New School Fingerstyle Blues

The epitome of the relaxed, late-night groove is “After Hours,” pianist Avery Parrish’s hit feature with the Erskine Hawkins big band. It has long been to blues pianists what “Honky Tonk” or “Hideaway” is to electric guitarists – a rite of passage and a source of essential vocabulary on the instrument. “Kerosene” makes use of the same triplet-laden 12/8 feel as “After Hours” – minus the horns and the rhythm section.

Kerosene is a slow blues in the key of D, and we’ll be using drop D tuning, which is fairly common in blues tunes, to open up the possibility for some different voicings. This tune has an alternating bass note feel, but keep an eye out at the turnaround when it switches to a walking bassline. To get a feel for the mood of this tune, listen to some ‘50s and ‘60s blues ballads from players like saxophonist Jim Webster, which is sometimes referred to as the “After Hours” feel.

Kerosene starts out on a D7 chord, followed by a hammer-on combined with a double-stop with a triplet feel, so hammer-on to the second fret on the third string and hold down the note on the second string, first fret. Meanwhile, your thumb will be alternating between the sixth, fourth, fifth and then the fourth string again, performing the hammer-on at the same time as the bass notes. You’ll only get halfway through the second measure before the hammer-on/pull-off combination.

The third measure moves from a D6 to an Am, but you could also look at the Am as a D9 with an A on the bottom, or D9/A. This is followed by another hammer-on/pull-off – this time to it’s open to first fret to open on the D string while you also grab the G string with your picking thumb.

The G chord is just like a barred version of the D7 moved up to the fifth fret. The hammer-on is the same, with the same feel, the difference being instead of the bass being sixth string, fourth string, fifth string back to fourth, we will play the sixth string, fourth string, the open sixth and then fourth string.

Watch the bass line in the next section as it requires a bit of flim-flam to get everything in there. Grab the notes with your thumb, index and middle fingers, then slide up to the G6 and G9 voicings.

Try the parts out individually, playing them slowly to get them to groove, and then you can start to stitch them all together and have the whole piece under your fingers.

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