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Ramblin' Boy backup & fills

Posted by jeliyesil on Saturday, January 22, 2011

Well, I've been working on this a little at a time for a few days. It's kind of hard to make a single .mp3 for backup, since you really just want to get some of those signature licks of his, so I'll try to describe it as best I can.

There are a few licks out of the D position (frets 2-4); some on a D chord, some on a G chord (up the neck in the D position). He uses not only the notes in the D chord, but also E, F#, B and C#. So as far as notes in the scale goes, he's using 1, 2, 3, 5, 6 and 7 (the major 7th - in this case C#, not C). So when he's playing in this position, it has a very "major-y" kind of sound.

In the G position (frets 3-5), he uses a lot of bluesy notes. So on a G chord, he uses G, Bflat, C (bending it up to the Dflat a lot), D and F. So he's got a flat 3 in the Bflat, flat 5 in the Dflat, and the flat 7.

It's kind of unintuitive that he mixes those two sounds together in the same tune, but it works.

He also uses single string triplets a lot on the slow stuff, again, out of chord positions.

I'm posting an .mp3 of the turnaround in this tune (key of B), slowed down quite a bit so you can here all those bendy notes on the 5th fret, 3rd string. He bends both up and down on that string.

I'm also posting an image of a couple of the licks that I transcribed (in musical notation, not tabs). The first 2 licks are on a D chord for 2 measures, then G for 2 measure. The 2nd 2 licks are G chord for 2 measures into a D chord.

What I've taken away from this is that it's important to get comfortable with a lot of the notes in each chord position that work, and know what sounds bluesy and what sounds "major-y", then use those 2 sounds where appropriate.

I also finally realized that J.D. is the only person doing backup licks and fills on a lot of these recordings. That's why he's so "busy" all the time. He does go in and out with this busy backup though based on what the vocalist is doing. So that's another key element that he's so good at - knowing when to play attention-grabbing stuff and when not to.

Anyway, this was a great exercise, and just getting a few of these techniques down will go a long way in helping my backup. No need to memorize the licks, just get the basics of what he's doing in these chord patterns.

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