The King of Gristle serves up a generous portion of bluesy nuggets.
• Explore variations of a classic blues lick. • Develop a more relaxed picking technique. • Understand how to add the b9 to your phrases.
Greetings Premier Guitar peeps! I’m here to give you some new gristle-filled tricks to use for your next blues explorations.
I’ve recently taken a position at the McNally Smith College of Music in St. Paul, Minnesota, where my oldest son is a student. Because I share an apartment in downtown St. Paul a few days a week with him, it reminded me of the Rodney Dangerfield movie Back to School where a father and son attend college together and madness ensues. (Rest assured that there is very little madness going on at our apartment.) In the movie, Dangerfield wins a diving competition with his famous Triple Lindy. In a few of my private lessons at school, I’ve been using that term to describe a sultry, triplet-filled blues lick. Sadly, that’s where the parallels with my situation and Back to School end.
I thought sharing this exercise with you might be fun, as it is good for building dexterity. You can take pieces of it to expand your soloing vocabulary, or you can play it “as is” and try to fit it in while jamming over an A7 chord in a bluesy environment. I’ve broken this exercise down into three segments that all start differently but end the same, and then assembled a fourth version that brings all three licks together. Master that, and you’ll be able to fully bask in the glory and power of the Triple Lindy.
The three phrases are similar, yet each is pulled from different influences. They all start with the classic blues bend that I refer to as the “launching point” and then change for beats 2 and 4 to differentiate themselves.
Ex. 1 is a classic Stevie Ray Vaughan variation that has a b9 in the first measure. All hail Grant Green! SRV used this often and it’s a tasty morsel. I love referencing the b5 as much as possible, so here we toy around with it on the 3rd string at the 8th fret as we wind our way down the A blues scale (A–C–D–Eb–E–G). Next we ascend with the A major pentatonic (A–B–C#–E–F#) in a B.B.-meets-Carlton phrase. I use my fourth finger to make these stretches happen, so don’t be afraid to put that little guy to work.
The next feisty salvo (Ex. 2) comes from the Freddie King school. It involves some tricky fourth- and third-finger gymnastics, so keep the tempo down until you can nail the moves, and then gradually speed it up.
The final portion (Ex. 3) of our Triple Lindy offers echoes of the great Otis Rush. Once again, the fourth finger has to perform some speedy hammer-on and pull-offs, but the more you do it, the more your hand submits and unleashes the fury!
Once you have all three elements are under your fingers, I urge you to dive into Ex. 4—the complete Triple Lindy. This giant blues barrage combines all three variations, along with the final three measures that appeared in each of the previous examples. Try to relax and let the notes flow. When you try too hard, your hands stiffen up and all the succulent mojo vanishes. So start slow and gradually build up speed—it’s totally doable if you put in the time.
Although I typically employ hybrid picking when getting my “speed on,” on these licks I exclusively use a flatpick. The ascending major pentatonic run at the end involves some tricky alternate picking, but if that presents too much of a challenge, feel free to hammer the notes instead of picking them.
I hope you dig these licks and use them in good health!