Grateful Dead Music Forum

A place to talk about the music of the Grateful Dead 

 #129907  by dleonard
 Sun Jul 07, 2013 1:47 am
I'm watching this Row Jimmy vid and find myself, even with Brent's great solo, really drawn to Jerry's rhythym playing. We all know his single note accompaniment playing, but even his chords are great here (beginning at 4:14 on vid). I am more of a Jerry-esque player, however feeble at my attempts, but try to be inventive in I guess in a more Weir style of way on rhythym. But Jerry's chunky chord playing is so F'ing great in this Row Jimmy. So i guess the question is, if playing with static chord-player less more, if done right? Not really sure what my question is actually, but my rhythym playing is lacking.
 #129916  by ccw3432
 Sun Jul 07, 2013 9:20 am
That's one of those songs that Jerry really gets that chunking thing going. I believe that less is more in a lot of songs (at least the way I like to hear and play them), but if one guy is just hammering bar chrods it makes it hard for everyone else to be heard in a dynamic way and the song takes on another feel. I really think that when working on a song as a band the first thing that needs to happen is everyone needs to listen and only join in and start playing when they hear and feel how their part should go and what works best for the song. Typically everyone just starts playing and powering through and you end up with too much sound and everyone trying to keep up and the dynamics get lost. Although there is a lot of music coming from different instruments with the GD, they all find their parts and contribute to song without overpowering it. So many of their songs feel open even though there is a lot going on. I find that difficult to achieve in a band setting. I believe the root of this is that they are good listeners as well as musicians.

On Row Jimmy Jerry gets that tasteful chunking going on and dosent' overpower the rest of the band. My appreciation for Bob Weirs playing increases the more I listen to how he plays rythm guitar and the more I try to play in that style. I find it a really fun and expressive way to play guitar. I'm not sure if I answered any questions but it's a good discussion.
 #129917  by DHM
 Sun Jul 07, 2013 9:49 am
There's an art to having two guitars playing rhythm and Bob and jerry were masters at it...note that jerry tends to play first position chords much of the time....he goes up the neck sometimes but most of what he plays are the good old cowboy chords...and he often hits all six strings...Bob on the other hand plays mostly in the higher registers...and while I've not studied his style in detail it seems he plays a lot of chord fragments...double stops-triads-etc. rather than full chords, plays the passing chords and plays stabs...syncopates his playing...dances around the beat....Jerry's rhythm tend to be pretty straightforward...on the downbeat, often because he's singing at the same time...

The key is to keep it sparse...often less is more...there's a time and place for a full six string chunkachunkachunka strum but with a second guitar it can quickly turn into mud...and try to avoid duplicating the other guitar...

You want to see two guitars mesh like gears in a watch, take a look at some of the videos by Marty Stuart and Kenny Vaughn...
 #129921  by James-T
 Sun Jul 07, 2013 11:30 am
Really well said and I think it's so true about how Jerry and Bob played together. Bob's role was to make jerry shine and Jer's role was to let Bob shine. Jerry is a great rhythmic player and hence his great rythem guitar playing. If you watch the e72 video of china cat circulating on you tube jerry, for the most part plays a single note rythem alternating between the root and 7th while bobby lets here rip on his signature lead riffs in the jam. It's all about giving space.

On live dead jerry is absent from the first few minutes of the eleven altogether probably lighting a smoke as he often did during extended jams. There is a great video of Clapton on you tube (Train tour doc) doing the same from 77 lighting a smoke in the pause before before the badge signature riff.


 #130023  by mgbills
 Tue Jul 09, 2013 12:27 pm
DHM...I've been thinking almost the opposite. But that is not to say you're wrong!

I think it's dynmic for both of them. I tend to think of Bob (and his big hands) as tending toward big wide chord forms, i.e. D-form.

Whereas Jerry I see do alot of triads & diads (sp), especially leading toward strings 1-4. I was watching him play a "Comes a Time" 9/16/91. A, D, E, Bm staying in a box. I see him use losts of 3 note chords a triad G.


But it does not always apply. The longer I study it, it's more & more like a conversation. Many tunes start the same every time. Lyrics call for simplicity. But as stated earlier in this thread a casual opening to a slower tune, can put Jerry & Bob in a mindset to follow with regard to chording options.

My 2 cents. I will qualify this with the fact that I've only been playing seriously for a few years, and do not have the depth that many here do. I tend to study principle & process, because memorization only works for me if I drive the principle into my head.

 #130024  by Tennessee Jedi
 Tue Jul 09, 2013 1:12 pm
Jerry works the up beat strum like a master
Intro to a 80's style Scarlet or Terrapin .... the good part of the playing is his upstroke
I hear it as chords slightly muted and doubt he played all 6 strings at any one time .... intro to Scarlet again .... partial muting of the strings and just hitting the ' tops " and " bottoms ' of the chord ....
I love his chord comping it is understated and very musical.
 #130026  by mgbills
 Tue Jul 09, 2013 2:33 pm
Oh Yea...and that TJedi. Scarlet ..perfect example.

That guy ...he was one fine guitar player :lol: Lots of cool stuff in the bag-o-tricks.
 #130048  by DHM
 Tue Jul 09, 2013 9:50 pm
your comparison of what they do to a conversation is dead takes a while to be able to pull that off...and the bottom line for whatever one or the other plays at any given point is what propel the tune forward..Jerry's my ears is often a lot like that of a guitar player in a bluegrass band...not in licks or technique per se but in the attitude and place in the arrangement....a lot of single note runs to connect chords etc...and bob is sort of like the mandolin...not necessarily the chunks and chops that a bluegrass mando might play....but in providing a lot of movement that keeps it flowing...these are probably oversimplified comparisons.

I made may comments after watching a handful of you tube was "Sugaree" and Jerry's chording was E, A, B at the 2nd fret, F#m and C#m...all played in the Mel-Bay chord chart positions...and that's a tune where Bob dances around a bit with his part, especially on the I-IV vamp.......but then that is likely just one way they'd fit them in...and how they did it varied from show to show...

I'm not as much a student of the style of either one but I do study how the parts fit together...I've been playing like almost 50 years, with about a month of lessons, and playing in bands of one sort or another...recreational stuff...acoustic and electric, mostly country flavored rock and roll...sort of amateur semi-pro....and for the obvious reasons I had to figure out how things fit together. I've been listening to a fair amount of Dead recently...last night I found a soundboard recording of a show in Madison WI 3-14-71...I was there..sort of...but don't recall a whole lot....listening to the recording I really had trouble determining who played what...but it was clearly two guitarists who fit together well...