Welcome to the second part of our John Mayer course! We will now be looking at John's more bluesy trio guitar playing. The album 'Trio' is a masterpiece of bass, drum and, of course, guitar playing, where John really let's his inner blues come out! We will specifically single out the more aggressive and groovy elements of his playing in this format where he tends to play riffs and Hendrix style licks underneath his vocal. This is very challenging and will push you, but it is doable, with a bit of time put in. Have fun!
Ok so your first job is easy, just watch the video! There is a lot going on in this rock blues track so you need to be able to sing or hum the melody line and have a good idea of the structure. I play through the riff twice in all, but please watch the video as many times as you need to absorb the track and then move onto the next video where we will start breaking it down.
Let's start by looking at the notes of the main riff. The main riff is all based around an A7 chord and generally uses notes from the A minor pentatonic shape 1, alongside the chord. To make it really clear, check out the fretboard diagram below.
Here is the full tab for the song. At this point, you only need to learn the notes in the main section underneath the A7 chord. Don't worry about all those 'dead' notes, we'll look at that in the next section.
Now you have the basic notes and rhythm together, let's look at the technique behind the scratchy sound. You will notice that the playing hand is generally strumming 5 or 6 strings, and yet you only hear the single note. This is crucial to get the very 'fat' sound that you hear on the track.
Here is the full tab for the song. Try to take the notes we learnt last time and add this new technique to them. This is definitely not going to sound great when you first try it, so keep plugging away until it cleans up a little.
As you move into the next part of the song, we have two licks to learn. The first is based around an E major chord (C Shape) and the second, around a D7 chord. This style of playing is from the Jimi Hendrix book of chords with licks, which we cover in a lot more detail in the Intermediate rhythm electric course. For now, here are the chord shapes with the scales used so you can visualise where the licks are coming from:
Notice that over the D7 chord, we are using the E major and E minor pentatonic shapes. This is a cool thing that you can do over dominant 7th chords because they are part major (major 3rd note) and part minor (b7th note). We talk more about this in our blues studies in the intermediate courses.
Use the slow down feature on the tab to really help you play along with the specific part (E to D7). Use the looper to make sure you are only practising this part.
We can now learn the final riff as we come out of the D7 chord, which is almost identical to the first except with the final note being E. This is there to suggest that we go to the V chord (5 chord) which would act as a sort of bluesy turnaround in the track. We then repeat the entire track all over again!
Now we have the whole song, you can piece it all together! Use the slow down and looping function of the tab to really help you master the entire tune.
When you are ready, you have the backing track and full solo here to play along to. It is very much worth trying to play with just the backing track as you will not be 'hiding' behind the recorded guitar part. It will be all up to you to make it sound awesome!