Grateful Dead 101: Where would you start?

Grateful Dead 101: Where would you start?

Postby Ghostbends » Thu May 10, 2007 7:58 am

If you were to start playing guitar to Grateful Dead music, to lean Garcia’s playing style, what songs would you use?
Would you use live material? studio?
Are there any 1,2, or 3 chord jams that you would use?
What songs would be the best place to start an introduction to Grateful Dead music theory?
Posts: 1
Joined: Fri Dec 30, 2005 8:57 am
Location: UP-State NY

Postby amyjared » Thu May 10, 2007 8:49 am

I can't speak for everyone, but I started with a few of the biggies:

Friend of the Devil
Uncle John's Band
Sugar Magnolia

These three had some good licks, progressions, etc and kept me interested. I learned them from the studio albums, because they are played different live. Once I learned them, I wanted to learn more of the licks that Garcia played, so I worked on songs like Birdsong, which has a lick that you can learn in two different keys, since it was played in two different ones. I found this site early on and started learning as much as I could. I also bought Legendary Licks DVD, which I highly recommend, to help me learn some songs. As for jams and theory, I'm not the best person to answer that, but I always liked to find a song like Cold Rain and Snow that is a couple of chords and you can jam over it. Hope this helps!
"The only funeral you should ever try to interrupt is your own, and that should be a full-time job." -Kinky Friedman
User avatar
Senior Member
Posts: 787
Joined: Tue Dec 06, 2005 12:11 pm
Location: Eugene, OR

Postby Rev_Roach » Thu May 10, 2007 10:24 am

Fire on the Mountain sure is easy. 2 chords (B and A), easy to jam. Good for playing with other people with little or no prep too.

On the 2 chord subject, try Cold Rain and Snow (E and D) too.
One More Saturday Night
One More Saturday Night
Posts: 410
Joined: Tue Oct 10, 2006 9:16 am
Location: Long Island, NY

Postby hobbsy » Thu May 10, 2007 11:54 am

Rider's pretty easy... D-C-G for the verse and F-C for the chorus. I think he jams the D major pentatonic scale over this one... I could be wrong. And what mode is it Jerry played most often?
Posts: 89
Joined: Thu Nov 16, 2006 7:56 am

Postby Erictw83 » Thu May 10, 2007 12:16 pm

My favorite of late has been jamming to Deal a la late 80s style (Alpine Valley 7/19/89, or Truckin up to Buffalo DVD for example). Its simple but super fun to play. Progression A-G-D, with A mixolydian overtop with lots of ascending and descending triplets.
Posts: 87
Joined: Fri Jul 07, 2006 9:46 pm
Location: Colorado

Postby Chief5959 » Thu May 10, 2007 12:34 pm

I would agree to start with the live stuff and also every so often on a tune you are jamming with try pan the output to the left or the right and you may find more space to play with or it may allow you to hear certain instruments better.
Posts: 92
Joined: Wed Jan 10, 2007 5:51 pm

Postby BlobWeird » Thu May 10, 2007 12:50 pm

hmm I dont agree with Eric. Deal is definitely not one of the easier songs to learn by the Dead for beginners. The ones mentioned by the others are good (cold rain and snow, fire on the mountain). Also are you playin electric or acoustic? Women are smarter, Aiko Aiko, St Stephen, China Rider, Morning Dew for starters are easy songs with very few chords to learn. One thing that I used to do that really helped is to put a song on I didnt know and just try to play along and figure it out by ear. Even if it takes you a while it will really help your ear to pick up the notes. Always lookin at the chords on here to play isnt exactly the best idea. It doesnt give your ear much of a workout if you always look and never try to figure it out. As for whoever asked what Garcia's favorite mode would be id definitely have to go with Mixolydian mode. Oh and there really is no Grateful Dead music theory. Music theory is music theory and can be applied to any music.
User avatar
Senior Member
Posts: 1014
Joined: Sat Apr 01, 2006 11:08 am
Location: Central Jersey

Postby quonce » Thu May 10, 2007 3:19 pm

A few easy that I like to pick to:

Run for the Roses
Uncle John's Band
I Know You Rider
Friend of the Devil

"There is no success like failure, and failure is no success at all"
Posts: 27
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 9:53 pm
Location: The ROC

Postby BigJilm » Thu May 10, 2007 5:38 pm

when i started playing dead tunes, i believe the first thing i learned was the cryptical envelopment riff. Then i learned st. stephen. I think from there i learned Uncle John's band, the basic terrapin jam, and Box of Rain. After that i moved on to some harder stuff...
Posts: 139
Joined: Mon Feb 12, 2007 5:48 pm
Location: Reynoldsburg

Postby tigerstrat » Fri May 11, 2007 2:00 pm

BlobWeird wrote: As for whoever asked what Garcia's favorite mode would be id definitely have to go with Mixolydian mode.

I'd be just as tempted to say Dorian.
"There, in huge black letters, was 'The Grateful Dead'. It just... cancelled my mind out."-Garcia
User avatar
Senior Member
Posts: 4709
Joined: Wed Nov 30, 2005 1:20 pm
Location: Portland,OR

Postby navajo » Fri May 11, 2007 8:47 pm

building on what everyone else posted, you should start listening to live dead w/ a closer ear. actually pay attention to the jams and riffs, don't just let them roll over your face.

try to imagine how they played some of the riffs, try to pick around your guitar to see if you can mimic the general jam. start building up good rhythm and just have phun.
Posts: 41
Joined: Mon Dec 11, 2006 1:08 am

Postby lostsailor8782 » Sat May 12, 2007 3:13 am

ummmm what Dead to play ... well the American Beauty stuff is a nice place to start for some acoustic strumming guitar .... but to actually play the stuff RIGHT >.. better work on your guitar playing ... there are hundreds of Dead cover bands all over America, you know why DSO is the cream of the crop ... because Rob Eaton can actually play, he is an unbelievable player and can capture Bobby, every other one has somme guy beating out cords cause he can't play "LEAD" ....what do you play lead or rythym ..... the hell with all that learn to play the guitar ... lead rythym it;s all the same, you can either play or not, and when not just poracdtice practice practice, I have been playing the guitar since 1979 and I still practice... ALOT .. oh and Jerry is all about the mixolydian mode just a major scale with a flattened 7th
I only smoke it when I am awake... I promise
Posts: 383
Joined: Tue Mar 20, 2007 12:08 pm
Location: Top Of The Hill CO

Postby nicolasalk » Sat May 12, 2007 6:38 am

for me definetively, a great song to improvise over it, and to see chords progressions is:

Bird Song
Posts: 469
Joined: Wed Feb 07, 2007 6:20 pm
Location: Chile

Postby Rev_Roach » Sat May 12, 2007 7:01 am

Just remembered Franklin's Tower. That definitely be a good one. Casey Jones is pretty easy too, and a good one for the repetoire since it is recognizable even by non-deadheads. Wharf Rat isnt too bad, plus itd be good for practicing your pinky work with those Asus2 and 4. Touch of Grey is pretty simple, except maybe the bridge. And Bertha! Timing could be a little tricky but the chords sure arent.

Some of the songs posted here kind of surprised me. Deal is a fast song full of chromatics, doesnt sound easy for a beginner to me. Bird Song is pretty bland without that signature riff, and handling that and the chords (when playing alone) isnt that easy.
One More Saturday Night
One More Saturday Night
Posts: 410
Joined: Tue Oct 10, 2006 9:16 am
Location: Long Island, NY

Return to The Think Tank

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests