Grateful Dead Music Forum

A place to talk about the music of the Grateful Dead 

 #98121  by old man down
 Thu May 12, 2011 9:07 am
A really fun and great song for a first solo is Europe ‘72’s You Win Again.

Here is what you get:

1) A key of G song, nicely centered on the fingerboard that incorporates, basically speaking, G, C, and D. It also has a modulation where it goes up as G, A, D. But generally speaking, you’re well centered on the neck of the guitar, so it is a good first solo kind of song. Also, this is a Hank Williams song, so you get his mastery of verse and refrain, done short and sweet by Jerry.
2) A really tasty use of the open position D7 chord shape, but it would be used higher up, like at the 6th fret, making a G7; the whole shape descends rapidly as you pick the notes down through 3 frets to get that charismatic falling cascade. It repeats often in the song, so plenty of opportunity to incorporate it into memory over the long haul as you smooth out the song. With practice you can get this little turnaround to flow like butter, and you can mix it up in all sorts of ways in that you can pick all three strings, or just two, or whatever, even do it really sloppy if you want.
3) For the solo, it is very easy to hear, and therefore learn, and it has a tiny bit of chromaticism at the start, followed by a big jump up to some upper fret reaches of outstandingly sharp note-bravado. But the real attention getting kicker is that high E string, one note extended-triplet at the 19th or 20th fret. Heads will turn once you master that, and even you’ll be smiling when you can do it effortlessly.

This is a great first song to play when you sit down and need to warm up for your daily guitar session.
 #98190  by amyjared
 Fri May 13, 2011 1:24 pm
How come no one pointed out the irony of a GD tab site recommending you learn it by ear/caged method/not note for note, etc? I realize it's more the forum for most of you, but I assume that the tab site is what brought us all here?

When I learn and teach guitar, I do both. I like to learn the concepts, the methods, etc but it often takes quite awhile to put it into actual usage. What I find helpful to me and to beginners, is also learning a song/solo note for note as it A) makes you practice, B) gives you an example of what you're trying to incorporate, C) is more fun!

Just my two cents and yes, I could be completely wrong... :-)
 #98261  by amyjared
 Mon May 16, 2011 12:43 pm
any recomendations on learning the caged system? books/vids?
I found this guys stuff on the CAGED method really helpful and easy to follow:
 #98277  by Cmnaround
 Tue May 17, 2011 6:29 am
Chuckles wrote:So much of JG's playing is based around the melody, and the Loser solo is just steeped in the melody. Of course there are numerous tunes where there's almost no relationship between the melody and what he played, especially when he went off on a diminished run, but it sure isn't a bad place to start to pick the melody out and then embellish at your leisure. Getting the feel for the phrasing - if that's what you want to cop - from something like Loser will give you a lot of insight into where he put his little nuances... and it's not altogether too difficult a thing to tackle. .
This is the secret - Chuckles hit it exactly. You totally need to learn all about scales and modes, but you need to understand music theory in depth to get that, and that takes some time. If you don't yet have, you need to get a cheap used casio keyboard to have because a piano is the best way to learn, understand and apply music theory. It will make it much easier all around.

With respect to the solos - break out that Grateful Dead anthology book that we all have laying around, you know, the one with the basic open chord diagrams and three bars of music, written in general for piano, but the top line of single notes is the melody. Take a pencil, pen won't work because you will be erasing, and figure out what each note is for each word of the melody, a sinlge verse and a chorus. If you can't read music, thats cool, you are going to learn real quick by doing this - and I don't mean being able to sight read on the fly, but enough to decode each single note that corresponds to each word of the melody "If I had a gun for every ace I've drawn, I could hold a town the size of abiline"...or whatever - its way early and I'm running from memory here. Now take that and play those notes on the guitar. That's it. Simple. Learn it in at least 2, if not 3 different positions along the neck - usually start low, work up to middle of neck, and nice thing is the neck repeats at fret 12, so same pattern you played low play high on other side of 12th fret.

This will give you the solo to play over the chord changes. And yes, you should have a multitrack - or at least something for you to record yourself playing the chord changes alone so you can practice and play the solo phrasing of the melody over top of. You want your guitar to be the voice of the song, and play the melody as if your guitar were speaking the words of the song - so you and your friends will instanty be like - oh - dude - thats loser or whatever. From this you can get into sliding and bending the notes to make it like your guitar is speaking - kinda like the riff at the end of feel like a stranger - with the wah and bends - imaginge the guitar saying "whhaaaa feel like a strangeeeeeerrrrrr"

Other hint - the bottom line of those 3 rows of music is the bass line - decode those notes too into individual notes, and use them for transitioning between chords and lines - the music is usually pretty spot on as a staring point - although sometimes they are in a different key than what the dead played live - but you can deal w that as you learn more theory.

Read an interview w Jerry once and he said he does- or did - the exact same thing sans the anthology book - that is, learn the melody in at least 3 different positions, become proficient at playing it in your sleep in all three - and then rock out.

At this point you can add on all the extra goodies of scales, modes, feeling, improvisiation, licks - but you need to start w the foundation of the melody of the song - and they are all available in the music books. Don't worry, reading music is not rocket science.
 #98287  by Pete B.
 Tue May 17, 2011 9:51 am
>>What's a good first GD solo to learn?

I would say learn the intro to Friend Of The Devil.
It's the Do-Re-Me-etc... scale, backwards (you might want to learn it fowards and backwards though).
 #98290  by playingdead
 Tue May 17, 2011 10:19 am
I may be in the minority here, but I think everyone is different in how they approach playing the guitar. You don't need to ground yourself in theory if your brain isn't wired that way, not that there's a right or wrong method when it comes to playing any instrument. Personally, I don't read or speak tablature, I wouldn't know a dorian mode if it came up and pissed on my shoe, and while I'm sure I am using lots of scales and modes when I play, I couldn't tell you what a particular one was. For me, it's more intuitive and completely by feel. I rarely look at my fretboard while playing. (Ironically, that allows me to actually be able to play a right-handed bass left handed, as long as I don't look, I won't screw up.) I would probably earn a lot of insight into my own playing by studying scales and modes, and may do that at some point, but it could be too technical and daunting a task for someone who's just starting out.

But for trying to learn what Garcia was up to, look for certain "signature" solos that he played largely the same every time. Almost always, these are based on his guitar interpreting the vocal melodies ... he has talked about basing a lot of his guitar playing on the melody lines and then deviating from there. The guitar solo on Loser, as mentioned before, is a good example, you can hear the guitar singing "if I had a gun for every ace I've drawn" ... and so forth. Black Peter and Comes a Time are two other examples. There are other signature parts he always did the same way ... the bridge on Chinacat Sunflower (when it goes to the E) is an excellent example. Or the instrumental portion of He's Gone just before the vocal bridge, where he's playing the melody line over the F# minor and E progression. These are relatively easy melodic things to figure out for yourself, without a lot of fast notes or intricate fingerings.

Sometimes, it's about finding the melody notes, and then figuring out how they are most easily accessible with your hand in a certain position. You can play the melody on one string, up and down the neck, or you can settle it in across the strings at, say, the 7th fret. That will open some doors for you.

The Touch of Grey solo is more intricate picking around chord shapes, I don't find that to be particularly illuminating for Garcia's playing style. Certain other songs -- Cumberland Blues -- are more scale based than melody based. But I think the lion's share of Garcia's genius is in the melody ... so take your favorite slow Dead song, and just sit with the guitar and see if you can play the vocal line down at the nut. Once you have that together, see how that vocal line fits in with the open chord shapes for the song. I did that recently playing around with the signature guitar solo on Built To Last, trying to incorporate that melody along with the open chords was an interesting exercise and it sounds great playing it on your own on the acoustic guitar.

Have fun!
 #98292  by Pete B.
 Tue May 17, 2011 10:53 am
LOL... That pretty much describes my first 25 years of guitar playing!
Looking back knowing what I know now, I wish I would have learned the CAGED thing and the Modes thing when I was in Jr High.
Most of Jers schitck is Ionian/Dorian/Mixolydian, and the CAGED thing makes it easy to go right to it on a guitar.
I started in the mid 70's, but I didn't know any of that stuff before the Dec 2005 issue of Guitar Player came out with the Tab for Slipknot. This started a re-newed love affair with electric guitar for me.
Funn Stuff!
Pete B.
 #98307  by Octal
 Tue May 17, 2011 4:50 pm
keirweir wrote:The first GD solo (not sure I would cal it a solo though) would be the intro notes to Dark Star.
And then improv for 25 more minutes?