The Jerry Style

The Jerry Style

Postby Counterstriker » Wed Jun 16, 2010 7:31 pm

Hey guys I've been really getting closer and closer to the "Jerry sound" but to be honest when I solo for a dead song it's like every once and a while you will hear a Jerry lick then it's back to my style, which in my honest opinion doesn't sound good if I'm playing a dead song unless we rearrange the song a tad bit.

So far I've really been working on the Caged method for quite some time and pretty much have it, I know all my notes on the neck and all the chords and the notes in the chords etc.. It really did spice up my solo's they really flow now and have a melody. Before learning Caged I would just find the key of the song and just solo over that back and forth over the same scale.. it got old fast, i noticed it. I'm sure the people listening noticed it. but that's in the past. My solo's have more depth to them now.

But about Jerry's style.. How do you pick up on it? I listen to the Dead everyday for about 4 hours plus+ I'm always on archive listening to shows my dad tells me about and how jerry was on fire that night. I pick licks up here and there, but about as far as I get.

For all you Jerry players I have a question: How did you learn his style? I hope Vic sees this thread :smile:
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Re: The Jerry Style

Postby tigerstrat » Wed Jun 16, 2010 9:09 pm

The :smile: that can be named is not the true :smile: .
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Re: The Jerry Style

Postby JonnyBoy » Thu Jun 17, 2010 12:25 am

You are doing what we all did once and/or are doing now. There is no simple answer or process to inject Jerry's mojo into your hand and brain, but listening to his musical style and playing along with your ipod will help a lot, or at least it did for me. Start early in his career, get a dark star from the late 60's and solo over it trying to mimic some of Jerry's licks. As you build upon his early stuff you can understand the latter a bit easier, he got better and took newer risks upon the old foundations. He became a better guitarist over time too. I swear in two or three years this will be behind you,I don't mean this harsh, you just gotta put your time in like everyone else did my friend! Peace bro, keep at it and let your style develop naturally too. Your hands will move faster, stretch farther and remember placements like second nature after enough time has past doing it! :smile:
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Re: The Jerry Style

Postby tcsned » Thu Jun 17, 2010 4:21 am

Jonny's right, it takes time and focus to get there (really to get anywhere). I recommend starting with early Jerry stuff and progressing through chronologically. That way you can get a sense of how he developed as a player. I started back in my teens trying to figure out Live Dead parts - didn't have bootlegs or anything at the time but that record was a great way to get into his style. Jerry's playing really advanced technically in the early 70s though still relying on the foundation that he built as the GD were starting. You'd be better off having a foundation to move into more advanced stuff. That stuff was raw, trippy, and sometimes out of tune :lol: there weren't a lot of effects getting in the way of hearing the notes individually. I also recommend listening to some of the folks that influenced Jerry. Listen to some Django, listen to some of that old 50s blues - Howlin Wolf, Muddy Waters, listen to Rev Gary Davis, listen to Flatt and Scruggs etc. The first step is being able to hear it. Once you can hear it you can figure out how to play it.

Also, there's nothing wrong with finding a way for your own style to work on those tunes. I'm not so much of a purist though there are some here on this board and their damn good at it. Vic, Kier, and a bunch of others really have it down. I am a bastardizer at heart and will throw some Scotty Moore, Mark Knopfler, Jimmy Page, even some Angus Young in when it'll fit. Most important is the "when it'll fit" part. If you love the music and are dedicated to playing guitar, you'll find a way.
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Re: The Jerry Style

Postby Rusty the Scoob » Thu Jun 17, 2010 4:51 am

Counterstriker wrote:Hey guys I've been really getting closer and closer to the "Jerry sound" but to be honest when I solo for a dead song it's like every once and a while you will hear a Jerry lick then it's back to my style, which in my honest opinion doesn't sound good if I'm playing a dead song unless we rearrange the song a tad bit.


This isn't Jerry-specific, but I find myself with the same problem - I'll be playing along and I'll hear myself play something that sounds like me and not Phil. So the short answer is: I try to cut whatever it is that didn't sound right out of my bag of tricks, and keep the rest.
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Re: The Jerry Style

Postby mkaufman » Thu Jun 17, 2010 5:46 am

Play lots of mixolydian modes!

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Re: The Jerry Style

Postby tcsned » Thu Jun 17, 2010 5:54 am

mkaufman wrote:Play lots of mixolydian modes!

mk

+1
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Re: The Jerry Style

Postby ugly rumor » Thu Jun 17, 2010 8:47 am

Rusty the Scoob wrote:
Counterstriker wrote:Hey guys I've been really getting closer and closer to the "Jerry sound" but to be honest when I solo for a dead song it's like every once and a while you will hear a Jerry lick then it's back to my style, which in my honest opinion doesn't sound good if I'm playing a dead song unless we rearrange the song a tad bit.


This isn't Jerry-specific, but I find myself with the same problem - I'll be playing along and I'll hear myself play something that sounds like me and not Phil. So the short answer is: I try to cut whatever it is that didn't sound right out of my bag of tricks, and keep the rest.



And here we diverge. I am heavily influenced by Phil, but I don't try to be him. I like Tom's approach to the music much better. And of course that is not always appreciated...even by Tom, the time I played with him. Of course, I was also farblondjet drunk at the time, but when offered the opportunity to sit in, could not turn it down, although I should have. About 5 or six hours of trying to deplete the bar's stock did not enhance the occasion, and I think I was the butt of a joke or two consequently, although my brother said I did ok, but it was definitely an unusual "Fire". I got a little carried away by the possibilities in my head. I think I did alright on "Morning Dew", though.

Anyway, I try to contribute in an improvisatory way, which is how Phil did it, but it is unavoidable that some of "me" sneaks in, and since I am not Phil, it may not be as good as if I copied, but it makes me better, I feel, when I'm not drunk! (eh, Tom?)
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Re: The Jerry Style

Postby tcsned » Thu Jun 17, 2010 9:09 am

ugly rumor wrote:
Rusty the Scoob wrote:
Counterstriker wrote:Hey guys I've been really getting closer and closer to the "Jerry sound" but to be honest when I solo for a dead song it's like every once and a while you will hear a Jerry lick then it's back to my style, which in my honest opinion doesn't sound good if I'm playing a dead song unless we rearrange the song a tad bit.


This isn't Jerry-specific, but I find myself with the same problem - I'll be playing along and I'll hear myself play something that sounds like me and not Phil. So the short answer is: I try to cut whatever it is that didn't sound right out of my bag of tricks, and keep the rest.



And here we diverge. I am heavily influenced by Phil, but I don't try to be him. I like Tom's approach to the music much better. And of course that is not always appreciated...even by Tom, the time I played with him. Of course, I was also farblondjet drunk at the time, but when offered the opportunity to sit in, could not turn it down, although I should have. About 5 or six hours of trying to deplete the bar's stock did not enhance the occasion, and I think I was the butt of a joke or two consequently, although my brother said I did ok, but it was definitely an unusual "Fire". I got a little carried away by the possibilities in my head. I think I did alright on "Morning Dew", though.

Anyway, I try to contribute in an improvisatory way, which is how Phil did it, but it is unavoidable that some of "me" sneaks in, and since I am not Phil, it may not be as good as if I copied, but it makes me better, I feel, when I'm not drunk! (eh, Tom?)

lol - Rick, don't be too hard on yourself - my foggy memories of the evening weren't that bad, I think that was one of the last times we played Morning Dew. I think we're going to book some more gigs at the Coffee Pot after a few years away from that place - if you want a do over head east and pay some tunes :lol:

There are a buhzillion cool ways to approach Dead music IMHO from note-for-noters on one end to Punk is Dead on the other. All are cool and all are fun for me to listen to. You gotta do what gets you off first and foremost. If your quest is to sound exactly like Jerry then I think you will go a lot farther musically than trying to do something that isn't what gets you off. I have a good friend who is one of the best songwriters I know, Eamon Alger, and he gave me CD of some songs in progress to think about putting some guitar tracks on and a line in a song has really stuck with me at getting at some profound truths about playing music for me. The lyric was referring to relationships/life journeys but is most appropriate to music especially Dead music. "You gotta be careful on the peaks, patient in the valleys" GD music to me is all about peaks and valleys. If you aren't careful when your on a peak you go too far and start flogging the dead horse or you crash the train. Being patient in the valleys is something that the Dead did so well. Enjoy being there and don't hurry out too fast because too steep of a climb ain't cool and some magic moments can happen there just as often as a peak.
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Re: The Jerry Style

Postby Pete B. » Thu Jun 17, 2010 9:47 am

Counterstriker wrote: ...But about Jerry's style.. How do you pick up on it? :smile:


I would say get all the commercially available GD vids and stand in front of the TV with the remote handy for rewinds (my pitch to Sony for a "Video Looper" hasn't caught on yet :idea: ).
The following includes things I say/think to myself on this topic:
With regard to the left hand... Obviously you can't be clamming out on every solo you take. Some thoughts... You're not Jerry... Your'e gonna sound like a terminal intermediate guitarist if you always try to play like Jerry. Play less notes than Jerry, focus more on more Jerry-esque "phrasings". Instead of an endless string of notes with no story/message... give your solo's a clear beginning/middle/end.
Sounds like you are feeling good about your "Legal Notes" ala CAGED. I can't stress this enough... It doesn't matter how many mistakes Garcia made live on-stage... He was the leader of a generation of Americans. You're not Garcia, and allowing yourself to clam out on every solo just makes the whole band sound crappy, not to mention making the Jerry guy look like the weakest link in the band. Give you're soloing some room to breath by insterting rests... don't ramble on until your completely out of breath, so to speak. Same goes for forgetting the words. For Jerry all's forgiven... for a Jerry-guy to forget the words too often... you're just make the band sound beginer-ee.
I think a huge part of the magic lies in the right hand. "Accent notes vs passing notes"... this is like 'Phrasing" for the right hand.
Jerry has alot of licks that he uses inversions of on alot of songs. You will start to notice this if you haven't already.
Oh brother... Well?...There's a few of my coffee fueld AM ramblings on this topic.
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Re: The Jerry Style

Postby Rusty the Scoob » Thu Jun 17, 2010 10:13 am

ugly rumor wrote:
Rusty the Scoob wrote:
Counterstriker wrote:Hey guys I've been really getting closer and closer to the "Jerry sound" but to be honest when I solo for a dead song it's like every once and a while you will hear a Jerry lick then it's back to my style, which in my honest opinion doesn't sound good if I'm playing a dead song unless we rearrange the song a tad bit.


This isn't Jerry-specific, but I find myself with the same problem - I'll be playing along and I'll hear myself play something that sounds like me and not Phil. So the short answer is: I try to cut whatever it is that didn't sound right out of my bag of tricks, and keep the rest.



And here we diverge. I am heavily influenced by Phil, but I don't try to be him. I like Tom's approach to the music much better. And of course that is not always appreciated...even by Tom, the time I played with him. Of course, I was also farblondjet drunk at the time, but when offered the opportunity to sit in, could not turn it down, although I should have. About 5 or six hours of trying to deplete the bar's stock did not enhance the occasion, and I think I was the butt of a joke or two consequently, although my brother said I did ok, but it was definitely an unusual "Fire". I got a little carried away by the possibilities in my head. I think I did alright on "Morning Dew", though.

Anyway, I try to contribute in an improvisatory way, which is how Phil did it, but it is unavoidable that some of "me" sneaks in, and since I am not Phil, it may not be as good as if I copied, but it makes me better, I feel, when I'm not drunk! (eh, Tom?)


Nothing wrong with that at all... I've just played like me for plenty of years and enjoy the extra challenge. I still sound more like me than him anyway.
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Re: The Jerry Style

Postby jeffm725 » Thu Jun 17, 2010 10:19 am

Counterstriker wrote:Hey guys I've been really getting closer and closer to the "Jerry sound" but to be honest when I solo for a dead song it's like every once and a while you will hear a Jerry lick then it's back to my style, which in my honest opinion doesn't sound good if I'm playing a dead song unless we rearrange the song a tad bit.

So far I've really been working on the Caged method for quite some time and pretty much have it, I know all my notes on the neck and all the chords and the notes in the chords etc.. It really did spice up my solo's they really flow now and have a melody. Before learning Caged I would just find the key of the song and just solo over that back and forth over the same scale.. it got old fast, i noticed it. I'm sure the people listening noticed it. but that's in the past. My solo's have more depth to them now.

But about Jerry's style.. How do you pick up on it? I listen to the Dead everyday for about 4 hours plus+ I'm always on archive listening to shows my dad tells me about and how jerry was on fire that night. I pick licks up here and there, but about as far as I get.

For all you Jerry players I have a question: How did you learn his style? I hope Vic sees this thread :smile:


This is not to discourage you, as there ARE some things that you or anyone else can do that I will give an opinion on at the end of this, but the following needs to be said:

There is just no possible way to totally internalize Jerry's approach. He simply put so much time in from a young age in such unique circumstances that he pretty much created his own category of guitar playing. Jerry was afforded the opportunity to do NOTHING but play guitar for 18 hours a day from adolescence to the the end of his life. From what I understand he pretty much took full advantage of the time afforded him. He ALWAYS had a guitar around his neck. If he wasn't gigging or rehearsing, he had his nose in the latest Chord and scale books absorbing everything he could. By all accounts, when he lived at 710 Ashbury, he woke up and went to bed with a guitar around his neck. even into the early mid 70's when living with Mountain girl in Marin county, he simply ALWAYS played. And if wasnt chop practicing, he was rehearsing jazz standards with Merle Saunders or Bluegrass with OAITW (and Jerry's banjo chops TOTALLY inform his guitar approach in many ways), or real "outside" avant garde stuff with Howard Wales. Jerry also got a luxury that no one else ever had at his level (which he created for himself) and that is that Jerry created a situation for himself where he was able to play live music on stage with various bands (GD included) that he used as a testing ground for his new ideas and latest learning's. I mean who gets afforded the luxury of developing their style in front of a crowd and getting paid for it?!



NOBODY (not even the best of the best, the John K's , the Jeff mattsons, the Stu Allen's) can grasp even 25% of Jerry's total bag of tricks.
Let me give you an example of something I have heard NO jerry emulator knock off yet.. There is a standard jerry trick that he used in most every mid 80's playing in the band and mid 80's sugaree (usually during the 3rd solo in Sugaree). It was what me and my friends called "the flutter".

If you want an example of 'the flutter" go to archive.org and find the Playing in the Band from 10/15/83. Fast forward and listen from between the 7-10 minute mark. That is the "flutter" :-)


OK with that caveat out of the way here is an approach that I think works, and was reiterated in John K's recent interview with Blair Jackson.

The key is the phrase just mentioned above: "Bag of tricks" . Every guitarist, even one as unique as Jerry, has an old reliable "bag of tricks" they rely on when playing. Even the best improvisers have to rely on these standby's from time to time. Things simply happen way too fast when playing improv music to be 100% originally creative on the spot 100% of the time. Jerry had a bag of tricks that is much larger than most, and obviously was very talented at using them, but they are certainly there.
I've always maintained that the difference between a great, interesting improv based guitarist and a pedestrian one is how well the guitarist hides his use of that "bag of tricks". Because it is not that the great guitarist isn't using the bag of tricks, he is, believe me, he just is able to pull it out and use it in a manner that is fluid with where the song is going.

So the logic dictates that if you want to be able to have a Jerry approach to soloing/jamming, then it would behoove you to have the same tricks in your bag that Jerry had in his.

You need to keep listening and listen real hard, and listen to multiple era's and what you need to do while listening is listen for licks that you have heard before. There are signature licks he uses in different jams, that appear time and time again. When you hear a lick or phrase more than once, it is because that lick or phrase lives in his "bag of tricks"
Now what make Jerry harder to copy than most guitar players is the aforementioned insatiable appetite for learning. He would put some new things he learned into his bag of tricks, use them, internalize them, flip them upside down and then after a few tours discard them, or put them down deep in the bag to be replaced by his latest learning's. The thing is, his latest learning's would always build on what he had previously learned. You don't get to 1989 Jer without going through, 1969, 1973,77,83,89.
So go back and pick out the common licks and phrases from 69-70, then from 72-74. Learn them, use them, practice them. Once mastered do the same for 76-77, 80-83 etc...

Also another great way of doing this, is that on this site, and some other sites (jdarks for example) there is some pretty damn accurate tabs of classic versions of some songs. I gurantee that some of those songs contain, classic Jerry phrases or licks.
Go to the version of the song the tab was taken from (jdarks is especially good at labeling the version of the song he is tabbing from) and listen to the song to pick pick out the "trick licks".....then find the trick licks in the corresponding tab and learn them.

I also actually keep pen and paper in my car and if I am listening to a show and I hear a familiar classic phrase come up that I just have to know, I write down the show, song and time of the riff, and when I get home I load the song into a piece of software called "Transcribe" which enables me to zero in on the portion of the song that contains the lick and slow it down without changing the pitch.

Here is John K's take on the subject:
For me, listening to Garcia, I hear certain licks show up. There’s this lick in “King’s Solomon’s Marbles,” for instance, that Jerry was working into a lot of his solos in ’76. It became another way to move through the scale and which had an inside chromaticism in there that would sort of ripple thought the band and create this cool little thing.

And somewhere in the ’80s you can hear this finger-exercise lick that’s just a single-position, diagonal fretboard thing that has this synaptic cascade effect when you listen to it.


So you can see that John K, has a similar approach. He hears signature riffs come up in different era's and learns them.

also, his take on soloiing improv is on the money as well, and he doesnt TRY to be Jerry there meaning he didnt actively "learn" solos, he simply lets his ears and taste for the music dictate:
As far as my approach playing in Jerry's lead solo style... it really comes more from passive absorption while listening to live recordings for pleasure. The study I have put in is much more around how he constructed and arranged song parts—riffs, fills, comping styles, and so on, and how those parts evolved over time


I cant give better advice than that!
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Re: The Jerry Style

Postby tcsned » Thu Jun 17, 2010 10:47 am

jeffm725 wrote:
As far as my approach playing in Jerry's lead solo style... it really comes more from passive absorption while listening to live recordings for pleasure. The study I have put in is much more around how he constructed and arranged song parts—riffs, fills, comping styles, and so on, and how those parts evolved over time


I cant give better advice than that!

yep - that's certainly what I aim for, albeit not nearly as well as Mr. K
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Re: The Jerry Style

Postby strumminsix » Thu Jun 17, 2010 10:47 am

Wow, Jeff. 100% right on. Loved the bag of tricks reference.

The only thing I could add is this simple bit: because of his playing for most of his waking hours Jerry had a supreme mastery of what works, when and why. But above that, he also knew exactly won't work, where and why. And it's this last part which is the most mindblowing to me.

One of my favorites is when I'd hear him phrase up notes that aren't in the scale he just played for the past 20 bars and on paper clash with the song but are exactly what is needed.
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Re: The Jerry Style

Postby jeffm725 » Thu Jun 17, 2010 11:01 am

strumminsix wrote:Wow, Jeff. 100% right on. Loved the bag of tricks reference.

The only thing I could add is this simple bit: because of his playing for most of his waking hours Jerry had a supreme mastery of what works, when and why. But above that, he also knew exactly won't work, where and why. And it's this last part which is the most mindblowing to me.

One of my favorites is when I'd hear him phrase up notes that aren't in the scale he just played for the past 20 bars and on paper clash with the song but are exactly what is needed.



Strummin', excellent, excellent point. That was Jerry's greatest strength I believe: self awareness. As you put it, he knew EXACTLY what would and wouldn't work for him and why. It is mindblowing . The best way I can describe it is that in the standard Rock guitar playing world the norm is for guitarists to make things that are relatively simple sound pretty damn hard, and once you unlock the secret of a particular phrase, you end up saying "Wow, that was actually easier than I though it would be".

With Jerry it is exactly the opposite. You hear this phrase that sounds oh so simple and tasty, and then you go to learn it and there is a half step bend back going into a slur followed by a chromatic run that breaks every musical rule in the book, and it just fits perfectly!
Pure genius.

Bruce Hornsby who is a conventional musical genius had a comment after Jerry died, about how Jerry could take a simple 2 chord song like Aiko and turn it into a chromatic study where every note choice was perfect, and would only be played by Jerry. No one else simply had that approach or the ability to exceute it without decades of study, and even then............
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