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Question and Obsession: What’s Your Favorite Chord Progression as of Late?

Question and Obsession: What’s Your Favorite Chord Progression as of Late?

Simon Saz: Gabriel Marin and some of the tools he uses to play Muğam, the classical music from Azerbaijan.

Photo by Dena Gold

Fretless guitar virtuoso Gabriel Marin of instrumental rock trio Consider the Source joins editors and reader Dan Lynch to talk about them changes.

A: Lately, I find myself writing melodies over the 1–b3–b7–B6 [Editor’ Note: Am7-Cmaj7-G7-Fmaj7] progression in a minor mode with all diatonic seventh chords. The voice leading within the chords is super smooth and I can write melodies of a few different moods over the same chords.

Current obsession: In the last few years, I’ve been really into Muğam, the classical music from Azerbaijan. It has so much fire and life in it, and is a very improvisational genre. There are elements of Persian and Turkish music in it, both of which I have played for a long time, but the Azeris certainly give it their own original flavor. The music is very passionate sounding, and the ornamentation and microtones are really exciting to me. It’s been really fun translating that music to fretless guitar.

Jason Shadrick Associate Editor

A: I didn’t really get harmony until I studied it deeply in college. One of my favorite progressions born out of that season was 1–b7–b6–5, which is a great way to practice descending dominant arpeggios, blues scales, and was copped by Setzer for “Stray Cat Strut.”

Stray Cats in their strutting era.

Photo by Masao Nakagami

Current obsession: I’m working on an unannounced project that is really reinforcing my appreciation for being an eternal student. Seeing guitarists at the height of their success get real joy out of learning something new is just as inspiring as hearing a ripping solo.

Ted Drozdowski Editorial Director

Photo by Johnny Hubbard

A: I’m obsessed with D–G–F–D/G–Bb–D/Bb–A–D. I stumbled across it a few years ago when I was writing a song about the ghosts I live with—metaphorically—and it fit the haunting, haunted mood and my moderate-tempo fingerpicking. It comes from my fascination for Pink Floyd. Now, I’ve used variations for rockers and other tunes, to the extent where I need to roadblock it.

Current obsession: Gigs! I’m currently embroiled in a major creative project that’s diverting my attention from booking and playing gigs, which is disappointing because I’m longing for the musical and mental health benefits I get from performing.

Dan Lynch Reader of the Month

A: I enjoy moving chords around in diatonic thirds, and using a passing chord to get there. Thirds can be pretty boring if you go straight there, so using a passing chord creates interest. For example: Cmaj7–B7–Em7–Dm7–Galt–Cmaj7–Cmaj7–E7–Am7–Fmaj7–Fm7–Cmaj7.

Current obsession: I have always found enjoyment not just in the playing of instruments but also in building and modifying them as well. Recently I have gotten into building my own pedals. It’s just another part of the hobby/obsession, where I can relax and do something with my hands.

Steve Carr’s first amp build was a Fender Champ clone. It didn’t work on the first try. Luckily, that didn’t stop him.

Photo by Charles Odell

The North Carolina amp builder is famous for his circuit-blending soundboxes, like the Rambler, Sportsman, and Telstar. Here, he tells us how he got started and what keeps him pushing forward.

Steve Carr started building amps because he loved playing guitar. He and his friends cobbled together a band in Michigan City, Indiana, in high school in the mid-’70s, and the gear they played with seemed like a black box. In the pre-internet days, getting information on amp voicings and pickup magnets was difficult. Carr was fascinated, and always wanted to know what made things tick.

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Yungblud's first signature features a mahogany body, P-90 Pro pickup, and SlimTaper C profile neck.

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On this season finale episode, the actor and musician leads a Prine-inspired songwriting session about how few tools we have in our collective toolbox.

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John Mayall in the late ’80s, in a promo shot for his Island Records years. During his carreer, he also recorded for the Decca (with the early Bluesbreakers lineups), Polydor, ABC, DJM, Silvertone, Eagle, and Forty Below labels.

He was dubbed “the father of British blues,” but Mayall’s influence was worldwide, and he nurtured some of the finest guitarists in the genre, including Eric Clapton, Peter Green, Mick Taylor, Harvey Mandel, Coco Montoya, and Walter Trout. Mayall died at his California home on Monday, at age 90.

John Mayall’s career spanned nearly 70 years, but it only took his first four albums to cement his legendary status. With his initial releases with his band the Bluesbreakers—1966’s Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton; ’67’s A Hard Road, with Peter Green on guitar; plus the same year’s Crusade, which showcased Mick Taylor—and his solo debut The Blues Alone, also from 1967, Mayall introduced an international audience of young white fans to the decidedly Black and decidedly American genre called blues. In the subsequent decades, he maintained an active touring and recording schedule until March 26, 2022, when he played his last gig at age 87. It was reported that he died peacefully, on Monday, in his California home, at 90.

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