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Arlen Roth Lessons
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Arlen Roth
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The guitar lick in the classic song “Green Onions” is a very oft-imitated and quoted riff that was originally played by Steve Cropper of Booker T. and the MGs. It is truly one of the real “foundational” licks of rock guitar, and has been the kick-off riff in countless jams ever since it was first heard. It’s also like a backwards version of the “I’m a Man” Muddy Waters lick, which is another archetypical riff that is used over and over again.
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This is a classic variation on the kind of Blues guitar and bass unison lines that became so popular as the result of the great Chicago blues players. I’ve personally been playing this lick for years, even recording “Treat Her Right” on my second LP, Hot Pickups. If you listen carefully to the original recording by Roy Head and The Traits there are actually two guitars playing on this part. We’re going to be playing it as one part, homogenized together.
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This is a great style, and again requires a really deft right-hand technique. Many of the great funk players such as Jimmy Nolen, Cornell Dupree and Curtis Mayfield have always utilized their right hands to great percussive heights, and this is really what is at the heart of these kinds of runs.
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This style, most often associated with Jimi Hendrix, Cornell Dupree, and Steve Cropper, consists of harmony notes played in many cases using slides, as well as hammer-ons and pull-offs.
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As I’m sure you’ve sometimes noticed, two-note positions are somewhat ambiguous and can define many different chords that share their notes. But it’s through the use of moving double-stop lines like the ones in this lesson that we can begin to understand not only the chord shapes they come from, but the chords we are moving to and from melodically as we shift positions.
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