Jer in 1000 Words (more or less)

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Jer in 1000 Words (more or less)

Postby TI4-1009 » Wed Oct 23, 2013 11:57 am

I bumped into this Harmony Central post on a Google search. While we can quibble with some of the details, this seemed like a very knowledeable "Jer 101" used to try and explain Garcia to a newbie. Plus he mentioned rukind. Poster was Purple Trails- anyone here?

"I’ll try to break it down for you. Theory: Jerry actually didn’t play much in Pentatonic, other than on the obvious blues tunes. His solos and fills tended to be single note runs in modal scales alternating with arpeggios, with a fast chromatic run thrown in here and there. Of the modes, he tended to use Mixolydian most often, with Lydian and Dorian thrown in at times. He improvised probably 80-90% of the time, so to some extent you don’t really need to learn the songs note for note. He used the whole fretboard, playing the same arpeggio or run of notes in multiple positions, and favored doing stuff like doing high note runs up the neck on the bass strings. Left-hand technique: Jerry rarely did bends, and when he did they were mostly half-step ones. He did use a lot of slurs; I’ve seen articles where he claimed to use 7 or 8 different vibratos. He also was influenced by bluegrass, and did a lot of hammering on and pulling off. He also would throw in trills; a good example of that is the opening run of Playing in the Band. Right-hand technique: Jerry would switch back and forth using a pick and fingerpicking, sometimes doing so several times in a bar. He would flick the pick under his stub finger and flick it out again. I’ve never been able to do that trick, so unless the song is one of the ones that are fingerpicked only, like Going Down the Road Feeling Bad, I just flatpick the bass strings and fingerpick the others when it seems like that makes sense. He used a really thick Adamas carbon pick (either 2 mm or 3 mm, I forget which), and always used the point. He had really good control of pick attack and pressure, and would at times really dig in, and at others barely grazed the strings. The thick pick does make a difference in the tone you get when you try to play like Jerry. Tones: the classic Jerry tone starts with running a silver face Fender twin reverb at around 5 on the volume, with the treble dial at 9, midrange at 2 or 3, and bass at 1 or 2. After the early seventies he used a modified twin head as a preamp to power a McIntosh MC 2500 power amps which drove 2x12 cabs loaded with JBL k120 speakers. For a brief time in the 80s he used a Mesa Boogie amp. So, you’re best off using a clean channel amp, preferably one of the Fender ones. He played custom superstrats for the bulk of his career, using a split DiMarzio superdistortion pickup in the middle position probably 70% of the time or more, so the closest you can come with a commercially available guitar is to use the middle pickup on a strat. For what it’s worth he tended to have his guitars set with a really high action to help him get a deeper tone. He would play with the volume and tone rolled down, sometimes to under 3 on the tone knob to get a horn-like sound. He constantly was tweaking the knobs. I’ve found that if you’re not that adept at this you can get pretty good results running your volume around 7 or 8 and your tone knob in about the same range. He played with a clean signal path most of the time. There are some songs like Estimated Prophet and Shakedown Street that require the use of an autowah to sound good. Autowahs are a PITA to play with, really need to be tweaked depending on guitar and amp used as well as the room you’re playing in and other stuff, and are pretty expensive to boot, so I’d avoid them unless you are a glutton for punishment. Other than that the most often used effects are clean overdrive, fairly clean distortion, octave down and analog delay. Where to start: most of the stuff on Workingman’s Dead and American Beauty are pretty easy to learn and fun to play, so I’d start there. If you want to learn some solos from live stuff (the arrangements, tempo and approach can be quite different) I would try to focus on shows recorded in the 60s and early 70s, because the Jerry parts are much simpler. As he aged Jerry did stuff that gets really hard to pull off. Good songs to start with are Not Fade Away (probably the easiest Dead cover to play), Uncle John’s Band, Bertha, How Sweet It Is (JGB cover), Scarlet Begonias>Fire on the Mountain, Friend of the Devil. Avoid the stuff in weird time signatures (Estimated, The Eleven), stuff that requires two guitars to sound good like China Cat and most of the later Bobby songs. Things like Truckin’ and the Other One pretty much require a full band to sound good, though they are fairly easy to play. Resources on the web: http://www.rukind.com has tabs for virtually the whole catalog which are reasonably accurate, some with links to videos for the licks. Check out the jdarks channel on youtube. He has really good instructional videos on there. ...."
"Do not write so that you can be understood, write so that you cannot be misunderstood." -Epictetus

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Re: Jer in 1000 Words (more or less)

Postby PurpleTrails » Wed Oct 23, 2013 9:30 pm

Well, you flushed me out. I've been lurking here for years, but hadn't actually registered before. The original was a response to someone who wanted help in learning to play like Jerry, and there had been a few responses that were pretty far off base IMHO. FWIW, I think I had been lurking there as well for a couple of years and this was what triggered me to register there.

As I recall, I got flamed by somebody over there regarding the de-emphasis on bends...something about how integral they are to playing tennessee jed and some other songs. Also got beat up on describing his guitars as custom superstrats; I figured it was the easiest way to describe wolf/tiger/rosebud/bolt with their fairly flat fretboards, hot triple pickups, etc. to people without going into a huge amount of detail. Yeah, I knew the necks weren't close, and they really don't qualify as your typical pointy metal guitar, but whatever. '

FWIW, the original also had paragraph breaks to make it a bit easier to read.
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Re: Jer in 1000 Words (more or less)

Postby James-T » Wed Oct 23, 2013 10:03 pm

Cool post purple trailsssssssss

I loved your narrative and its a great take on Jerry's playing style in my narrow view of the world.

It is true that a 12" radius is pretty flat - and typical of the classic superstrats the head banger guys love to shred on. I've got a PRS Torero at 14" I believe - its a plank. But you can play it fast and easy.

I think superstrat was a good "in one word" description. Sure the Wolf was a 25" scale but what was with those Beans anyways? :lol:

Perhaps superstrat super fat. I heard Warren Haynes on Weir Here claim that the Wolf weighed something like 16 pounds. You'd think all those Les Paul's he plays are chambered or something. I think Bobby corrected him. :hail:

You gotta admit when Jerry finally arrived with the Tiger it was one heavy superstrat. Playing only really light guitars I wonder how much that extra weight adds to the tone. :?:

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Re: Jer in 1000 Words (more or less)

Postby RiseandFall » Thu Oct 24, 2013 5:47 am

I thought you described things very concisely and adeptly in terms of a fast overview.
Lots of folks (myself included) begin the journey under the false assumption that there is a magic bullet that will make you sound like Jerry, be it pickups, amp....whatever.
One quickly learns that it is a complex stew of many specific ingredients to even begin to get close to the sound, and a whole other universe to even approach the Garcia playing mindset.

Jerry's full time job in life was honing and refining his sound and style, while always managing to somehow, in a sense, to play on the fly and on the jagged, risky edge. Jerry mastered theory but never used it as a crutch...he was one of those players that seemed to never think too much when playing, rather he bravely lived in the moment of the music and let his fingers and heart decide what to play.
(I know I didn't put that well, but I think you might catch my meaning.)

Most of us don't have that luxury of time or that deadication.

I'm of the opinion that those of us who have chosen to go down this musical road, and shoot for any aspect of what Jerry (or Bobby or Phil for that matter) has accomplished, couldn't have a more lofty (and noble) goal.
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Re: Jer in 1000 Words (more or less)

Postby Jon S. » Thu Oct 24, 2013 9:12 am

PurpleTrails wrote:Well, you flushed me out. I've been lurking here for years, but hadn't actually registered before. The original was a response to someone who wanted help in learning to play like Jerry, and there had been a few responses that were pretty far off base IMHO. FWIW, I think I had been lurking there as well for a couple of years and this was what triggered me to register there.

As I recall, I got flamed by somebody over there regarding the de-emphasis on bends...something about how integral they are to playing tennessee jed and some other songs. Also got beat up on describing his guitars as custom superstrats; I figured it was the easiest way to describe wolf/tiger/rosebud/bolt with their fairly flat fretboards, hot triple pickups, etc. to people without going into a huge amount of detail. Yeah, I knew the necks weren't close, and they really don't qualify as your typical pointy metal guitar, but whatever. '

FWIW, the original also had paragraph breaks to make it a bit easier to read.

Excellent writeup and it's so cool to learn now it was you! :cool:
"For me, I think the only danger is being too much in love with guitar playing. The music is the most important thing, and the guitar is only the instrument." Jerry Garcia
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Re: Jer in 1000 Words (more or less)

Postby TI4-1009 » Thu Oct 24, 2013 9:18 am

PurpleTrails wrote:Well, you flushed me out. I've been lurking here for years, but hadn't actually registered before.


You rascal! Good to have you out of the shadows- welcome!
"Do not write so that you can be understood, write so that you cannot be misunderstood." -Epictetus

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Re: Jer in 1000 Words (more or less)

Postby flyingheelhook » Thu Oct 24, 2013 11:15 am

I like it better without paragraph breaks... :lol:
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