Results 1 to 30 of 30

Thread: Playing Jerry Garcia (Dead and pentatonics)

  1. #1
    Forum Member S. Cane's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    Location
    Ever heard of José Carioca?
    Posts
    4,435

    Playing Jerry Garcia (Dead and pentatonics)

    Considering the extended hiatus my band has been experiencing due to members being intermittently ill, I have been learning stuff and studying music theory a lot.

    And of course, my main subject is the Grateful Dead.

    It happens, though, that I am a pentatonic-based rock/blues player who isn’t very much into improvising per se. I like writing and covering music better.

    Well, I’ve been playing and playing, learning and learning, and would like some opinions on what Jerry did with Morning Dew in Winterland, ‘74.



    Though I know it ain’t as simple as that, I can spot a lot of licks that consist in using the C box (shape) of the major pentatonics with the classic Jerry style chromatic runs. In the middle of the song you can clearly see him move that scale shape over Bobby’s chord changes.

    Chuck and other Dead fans: what else should I take notice of, here? Thanks in advance, this is really exciting!

  2. #2
    Forum Member Offshore Angler's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    New York Finger Lakes Area
    Posts
    7,902

    Re: Dead and pentatonics

    Quote Originally Posted by Sérgio View Post
    Considering the extended hiatus my band has been experiencing due to members being intermittently ill, I have been learning stuff and studying music theory a lot.

    And of course, my main subject is the Grateful Dead.

    It happens, though, that I am a pentatonic-based rock/blues player who isn’t very much into improvising per se. I like writing and covering music better.

    Well, I’ve been playing and playing, learning and learning, and would like some opinions on what Jerry did with Morning Dew in Winterland, ‘74.



    Though I know it ain’t as simple as that, I can spot a lot of licks that consist in using the C box (shape) of the major pentatonics with the classic Jerry style chromatic runs. In the middle of the song you can clearly see him move that scale shape over Bobby’s chord changes.

    Chuck and other Dead fans: what else should I take notice of, here? Thanks in advance, this is really exciting!
    Hi Sergio,

    You know, I've been toying with the idea of doing a video for you on this. Jerry's genius is purely in his simplicity. He was always just having fun and not over-thinking it.

    OK, (forgetting Slipnot/Help on the Way) how do you approach playing like Jerry? You basically solo off of two chord shapes. And he would follow the progression such that he needed only to make small moves on the neck to do so.


    Think of these two major scale shapes: the C major scale on the 1st through 3rd and then the C major on the 5th through 8th frets. Pretty much 90% of Jerry's playing in those shapes. Now, move through the progression moving the scale with the chord, for example:

    B scale at the 11th fret
    F# scale at 11th fret
    B scale at 11th fret
    E scale at the 9th fret
    F# scale at the 9th fret

    - and there you have it, the basic structure of the Touch of Grey solo. Even the "get by eye eye" move on the solo is nothing more than arpeggios on the chord shapes of the chorus on 14 fret and moving downward.

    You'll read people getting all esoteric with modalities (which is technically correct but irrelevant) but all he is doing is playing the major scale of the underlying chord, and not by doing a lot of finger gymnastics, but alternating strings and skipping strings in arpeggios.

    And I just made it sound harder than it really is.

    And if Jerry wanted to move more than a couple frets he would just throw in his patented chomatic move to get himself there.

    Pure genius. When you watch Jerry solo one of the things that should jump out to you is his economy of motion on the fretboard.

    Next take the exercise I showed above and apply it to Althea. Viola! You got the melody right beneath your fingers.

    No doubt that Jerry's use of these moves inspired the progressions and melodies.

    Through in some basic boogie stuff and classic country fills here and there and you can take over for Mayer.

    Good luck!


    Chuck
    "No harmonic knowledge, no sense of time, a ghastly tone, unskilled vibrato, and so on. Chuck is one of the worst guitar players I know" -Gravity Jim

  3. #3
    Forum Member S. Cane's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    Location
    Ever heard of José Carioca?
    Posts
    4,435

    Re: Dead and pentatonics

    Very nice, my friend! That video would be much appreciated!

  4. #4
    Forum Member S. Cane's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    Location
    Ever heard of José Carioca?
    Posts
    4,435

    Re: Dead and pentatonics

    Quote Originally Posted by Offshore Angler View Post
    Hi Sergio,

    Think of these two major scale shapes: the C major scale on the 1st through 3rd and then the C major on the 5th through 8th frets. Pretty much 90% of Jerry's playing in those shapes. Now, move through the progression moving the scale with the chord

    I picked up the guitar and started playing the C major scale here to warm up. Just one thing that I didn't quite understand in your explanation.

    What do you mean by "C major scale on the 1st through 3rd and then the C major on the 5th through 8th frets"? Since you refer to scale shapes, I am understanding this as the "boxes" of the scale, like these:



    But "1st through 3rd fret" gives me the idea of playing the scale horizontally across the fretboard.

  5. #5
    Forum Member Offshore Angler's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    New York Finger Lakes Area
    Posts
    7,902

    Re: Dead and pentatonics

    Serrgio, you're way, way overthinking it. Forget scales. Scales lead to anger, angler leads to the dark side (pentatonics and crap melodies). Think in terms of chord shapes. I'll record the video this weekend if I get a chance.
    "No harmonic knowledge, no sense of time, a ghastly tone, unskilled vibrato, and so on. Chuck is one of the worst guitar players I know" -Gravity Jim

  6. #6
    Forum Member Offshore Angler's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    New York Finger Lakes Area
    Posts
    7,902

    Re: Dead and pentatonics

    Here you go Sergio. Didn't even finish my coffee yet so If I look like I just rolled out of bed, it's because I did. After this I had to go move snow around the Offshore Angler-arossa.

    Hope this helps.

    "No harmonic knowledge, no sense of time, a ghastly tone, unskilled vibrato, and so on. Chuck is one of the worst guitar players I know" -Gravity Jim

  7. #7
    Forum Member S. Cane's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    Location
    Ever heard of José Carioca?
    Posts
    4,435

    Re: Dead and pentatonics

    Thanks a lot, Chuck! And sorry for the delayed reply.

    Pretty cool hints on how to use the chords to make the melodies. Practicing a lot!

  8. #8
    Forum Member S. Cane's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    Location
    Ever heard of José Carioca?
    Posts
    4,435

    Re: Dead and pentatonics

    So, an update after our brief conversation in the "learning to play" thread.

    I've been having a lot of fun by practicing and improvising over Franklin's Tower by using mainly the A and D Major Pentatonics with chromatic pulloffs here and there.

    A bit like it's explained here:

    https://www.guitarworld.com/lessons/...-passing-tones


    Now, I just picked up Touch of Grey and will practice exactly like you said above, Chuck. I'll post my impressions as I go on practicing.

  9. #9
    TFF Stage Crew
    Moderator
    Cogs's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    Burpleson AFB
    Posts
    6,805

    Re: Playing Jerry Garcia (Dead and pentatonics)

    I changed the thread title as requested but left the original title so someone can find it in a search query

  10. #10
    Forum Member S. Cane's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    Location
    Ever heard of José Carioca?
    Posts
    4,435

    Re: Playing Jerry Garcia (Dead and pentatonics)

    Quote Originally Posted by Cogs View Post
    I changed the thread title as requested but left the original title so someone can find it in a search query
    Thanks!!

  11. #11
    Forum Member Offshore Angler's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    New York Finger Lakes Area
    Posts
    7,902

    Re: Playing Jerry Garcia (Dead and pentatonics)

    Quote Originally Posted by Sugarcane View Post
    Thanks!!
    Hmmm. I may be an unfrozen caveman guitar player, but Jerry's playing on Franklins Tower sounds pretty darn diddly-danged dorian to me. Almost Dickie Betts meets Elvin Bishop-esque. Anyhoo, that's the way I've always approached most 2 chord vamps.

    BTW, Jimmy Buffet uses the Frankin's Tower riff (I don't where it originated but it's a fairly common one) to great effect on One Particular Harbour. Listen to how he uses the root notes for each chord as the melody. Much like Jerry would.

    Chuck
    Last edited by Offshore Angler; 05-09-2022 at 02:59 PM.
    "No harmonic knowledge, no sense of time, a ghastly tone, unskilled vibrato, and so on. Chuck is one of the worst guitar players I know" -Gravity Jim

  12. #12
    Forum Member S. Cane's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    Location
    Ever heard of José Carioca?
    Posts
    4,435

    Re: Playing Jerry Garcia (Dead and pentatonics)

    Quote Originally Posted by Offshore Angler View Post
    Hmmm. I may be an unfrozen caveman guitar player, but Jerry's playing on Franklins Tower sounds pretty darn diddly-danged dorian to me. Almost Dickie Betts meets Elvin Bishop-esque. Anyhoo, that's the way I've always approached most 2 chord vamps.

    BTW, Jimmy Buffet uses the Frankin's Tower riff (I don't where it originated but it's a fairly common one) to great effect on One Particular Harbour. Listen to how he uses the root notes for each chord as the melody. Much like Jerry would.

    Chuck
    Of course! I am not playing major pentatonics over Franklin't tower to solo exactly like Jerry, I am a blues influenced player trying to start playing Dead stuff, so it's easier for me to start by the Major 5 noter and go chromatic here and there... But don't get me wrong: I'm not trying to cross what you said in your video, much au contraire: I am crawling before I can walk. Improvising over Franklin's Tower was fun and I tell you, this was the first time I ever felt like I was actually playing a Grateful Dead jam.

    Next exercise will be approaching Touch of Grey using your advice. Now, just one more thing: like I asked above, if you don't mind: What do you mean by "C major scale on the 1st through 3rd and then the C major on the 5th through 8th frets"? Don't get mad at me, you know I don't think in English so some expressions are a bit odd for me to understand.

  13. #13
    Forum Member Offshore Angler's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    New York Finger Lakes Area
    Posts
    7,902

    Re: Playing Jerry Garcia (Dead and pentatonics)

    Use that scale shape is all I'm saying. I reference to the C major scale since it's all white keys and people can relate to the intervals. Jerry used two scale shapes prolifically: let's call it the D major scale at the second fret and the A major scale at the second fret. So if Jerry was soloing over a D-A-E progression he might have done something like this: D major scale 2nd fret over the D, then move to the A major scale 2nd fret over the A and then move to the E major scale at the 4th. Simple as simple can be.


    Now, of course, we are referencing everything in terms of Ionian scales when in fact I could call them by the proper modes in the key of D, but that's more academic than we need to be.

    Chuck
    "No harmonic knowledge, no sense of time, a ghastly tone, unskilled vibrato, and so on. Chuck is one of the worst guitar players I know" -Gravity Jim

  14. #14
    TFF Stage Crew
    Moderator
    Cogs's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    Burpleson AFB
    Posts
    6,805

    Re: Playing Jerry Garcia (Dead and pentatonics)

    Franklin's Tower is definitely mixolydian mode

  15. #15
    Forum Member Offshore Angler's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    New York Finger Lakes Area
    Posts
    7,902

    Re: Playing Jerry Garcia (Dead and pentatonics)

    Quote Originally Posted by Cogs View Post
    Franklin's Tower is definitely mixolydian mode
    I can buy that Cogs. We can easily say the b3 is an accidental (not that the b7wouldn't be but you get my drift re: describing modes) and the b7 stays either way. There's countless versions recorded. Jerry played around a lot. Dead and Co. too.
    "No harmonic knowledge, no sense of time, a ghastly tone, unskilled vibrato, and so on. Chuck is one of the worst guitar players I know" -Gravity Jim

  16. #16
    Forum Member S. Cane's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    Location
    Ever heard of José Carioca?
    Posts
    4,435

    Re: Playing Jerry Garcia (Dead and pentatonics)

    A lot of Jerry ground can be covered by mastering arpeggios too, right?

  17. #17
    TFF Stage Crew
    Moderator
    Cogs's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    Burpleson AFB
    Posts
    6,805

    Re: Playing Jerry Garcia (Dead and pentatonics)

    In my opinion, yes. Not many people know that Jerry was an excellent banjo player. I don't know if I recall this correctly, but I think I read somewhere that he thought that he was better at banjo than guitar.
    At any rate, if you know anything about the banjo, it is laid out in such a way that lends itself to arpeggios & "arpeggiated" lines (if there is such a word). You can see this in the opening riff to Casey Jones. That's how I think of it, anyhow

  18. #18
    Forum Member Offshore Angler's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    New York Finger Lakes Area
    Posts
    7,902

    Re: Playing Jerry Garcia (Dead and pentatonics)

    Quote Originally Posted by Cogs View Post
    In my opinion, yes. Not many people know that Jerry was an excellent banjo player. I don't know if I recall this correctly, but I think I read somewhere that he thought that he was better at banjo than guitar.
    At any rate, if you know anything about the banjo, it is laid out in such a way that lends itself to arpeggios & "arpeggiated" lines (if there is such a word). You can see this in the opening riff to Casey Jones. That's how I think of it, anyhow
    Jerry was indeed an accomplished banjo player and won competitions when he was young. He had two really nice Gibsons that i know of, one he filed a notch in a fret to change the 5th string tuning on the fly. Not sure if he used open G tuning all the time or other tunings as some banjo players use a lot of weird tunings.

    Chuck
    "No harmonic knowledge, no sense of time, a ghastly tone, unskilled vibrato, and so on. Chuck is one of the worst guitar players I know" -Gravity Jim

  19. #19
    Forum Member Offshore Angler's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    New York Finger Lakes Area
    Posts
    7,902

    Re: Playing Jerry Garcia (Dead and pentatonics)

    Quote Originally Posted by Sugarcane View Post
    A lot of Jerry ground can be covered by mastering arpeggios too, right?
    Most of Jerry's iconic solos are using the chord shapes of the progression. In the little demo I did for you at the end I show how Althea is really nothing more than making chord shapes and alternating the picking. I hybrid pick a lot so it hides it in my picking hand motion but if you try it you'll get it very quickly.

    Now, let's talk some Albert Collins if you want to play blues and get away from the boxes!

    Chuck
    "No harmonic knowledge, no sense of time, a ghastly tone, unskilled vibrato, and so on. Chuck is one of the worst guitar players I know" -Gravity Jim

  20. #20
    Forum Member S. Cane's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    Location
    Ever heard of José Carioca?
    Posts
    4,435

    Re: Playing Jerry Garcia (Dead and pentatonics)

    Quote Originally Posted by Offshore Angler View Post

    Now, let's talk some Albert Collins if you want to play blues and get away from the boxes!

    Chuck

    My main difficulty in playing like Jerry is exactly being a (modesty aside) decent blues player myself. I use the minor and major pentatonics well, in and out of shapes, and that’s what makes me feel a bit like a fish outside of the water when I try to use major scales (where the f… should I bend?! ) and to play using the chord tones to create melodies.

    My practice sessions are like this: I try to play Grateful Dead for about 40 minutes and I think “God damn it, I suck big time…” then I pick up the guitar again and do another 40 minutes of Allman Brothers and blues/rock to remind myself that I actually don’t suck

  21. #21
    Forum Member OldStrummer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
    Location
    Northern Virginia, USA
    Posts
    3,423

    Re: Playing Jerry Garcia (Dead and pentatonics)

    Every time I see this topic pop up in the new messages list, I read it as "Dead End pentatonics." That is all.
    Striving to be ordinary

    Proud to be a TFF Dumbass!

  22. #22
    Forum Member S. Cane's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    Location
    Ever heard of José Carioca?
    Posts
    4,435

    Re: Playing Jerry Garcia (Dead and pentatonics)

    Quote Originally Posted by OldStrummer View Post
    Every time I see this topic pop up in the new messages list, I read it as "Dead End pentatonics." That is all.

    Is there a new messages list function? How do I switch it on? I only know there are new posts because of the pilot lights

  23. #23
    Forum Member OldStrummer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
    Location
    Northern Virginia, USA
    Posts
    3,423

    Re: Playing Jerry Garcia (Dead and pentatonics)

    Quote Originally Posted by Sugarcane View Post
    Is there a new messages list function? How do I switch it on? I only know there are new posts because of the pilot lights
    I have this link bookmarked. Takes me immediately to the list of new posts: https://www.thefenderforum.com/forum/search.php?do=getnew&contenttype=vBForum_Post
    Striving to be ordinary

    Proud to be a TFF Dumbass!

  24. #24
    Forum Member Offshore Angler's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    New York Finger Lakes Area
    Posts
    7,902

    Re: Playing Jerry Garcia (Dead and pentatonics)

    Quote Originally Posted by Sugarcane View Post
    My main difficulty in playing like Jerry is exactly being a (modesty aside) decent blues player myself. I use the minor and major pentatonics well, in and out of shapes, and that’s what makes me feel a bit like a fish outside of the water when I try to use major scales (where the f… should I bend?! ) and to play using the chord tones to create melodies.

    My practice sessions are like this: I try to play Grateful Dead for about 40 minutes and I think “God damn it, I suck big time…” then I pick up the guitar again and do another 40 minutes of Allman Brothers and blues/rock to remind myself that I actually don’t suck

    That's probably a timing issue more than a fingering issue.

    OK ANY SCALE or mode is not the end-all, be-all for selecting notes when playing. There is no rule written anywhere that says you must use ONLY the notes in the scale or mode you're creating around. You can add or subtract notes however you feel.


    I think a lot of aspiring players get too hung up on scales because they play with their fingers and not their ears. Once the muscle memory takes over it's a chore to overcome it. That's where instruction and structured practice come in. You not only need to learn what to play, but how to practice effectively. For some players that required discipline comes very easy, others will never have it.
    Notice how you said "Try" to play. Don't try, just do it. Make yourself stay at it until you unlock it. It's not that you can't play it, you just aren't good at it yet. Always start at that mindset. How do you get better? Instruction and practice.

    Playing classic rock or jazz requires you to understand the fretboard and think while you play, not just switch positions, and timing is more critical than blues where you play with the timing.

    Another suggestion is to force yourself to play disciplined practice even when you don't feel like it. Tired, hung over and sick? Guess what, you'll have to play shows like that if you want to be a guitar slinger so you might as well get used to it.

    Since you like the Dead, just focus on learning Slipnot/Help on the Way dead nuts and you'll start to sharpen your timing up to where you can play non-bluesy solos.

    Chuck
    "No harmonic knowledge, no sense of time, a ghastly tone, unskilled vibrato, and so on. Chuck is one of the worst guitar players I know" -Gravity Jim

  25. #25
    Forum Member S. Cane's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    Location
    Ever heard of José Carioca?
    Posts
    4,435

    Re: Playing Jerry Garcia (Dead and pentatonics)

    Quote Originally Posted by Offshore Angler View Post
    That's probably a timing issue more than a fingering issue.

    OK ANY SCALE or mode is not the end-all, be-all for selecting notes when playing. There is no rule written anywhere that says you must use ONLY the notes in the scale or mode you're creating around. You can add or subtract notes however you feel.
    Chuck

    It's starting to make sense. I am taking everything you say in consideration.

    What's working for me is to start from the major pentatonic and adding the notes that the song requires. For instance, I am starting to create pretty nice solos over Bertha and Franklin's tower by playing major pentatonic licks and then adding the notes that make it a mixolydian scale and going chromatic here and there.

    This is so good, I tell you guys. I am a road worn player who has been playing live intensively for the last 7 years, until the pandemic started changing everything, gigging in bars, biker clubs and other venues, mostly blues influenced stuff, and taking the time to go further and play differently is opening a whole set of perception doors for me.

    Let's keep this thread going!

  26. #26
    Forum Member Offshore Angler's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    New York Finger Lakes Area
    Posts
    7,902

    Re: Playing Jerry Garcia (Dead and pentatonics)

    Problem is, most people try to find a single trick to make their playing improve. What they fail to realize is that trick isn't technique, it's changing how you think about soloing. The vast majority of rock solos are built off power chord fingerings. That has nothing to do with scales. Once you hit that mindset and forget about boxes and scales a whole new world opens up.

    Chuck
    "No harmonic knowledge, no sense of time, a ghastly tone, unskilled vibrato, and so on. Chuck is one of the worst guitar players I know" -Gravity Jim

  27. #27
    Forum Member S. Cane's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    Location
    Ever heard of José Carioca?
    Posts
    4,435

    Re: Playing Jerry Garcia (Dead and pentatonics)

    Quote Originally Posted by Offshore Angler View Post
    That's probably a timing issue more than a fingering issue.

    Chuck

    Funny, by pure coincidence I just came across an example of what you said.

    I recently came across this guy from Japan who actually played jazz very well on a beat up Tele, and when I took the time to analyze what he was doing, it was mainly the minor pentatonic applied to the chord progressions the band was playing.

    These are easier times given internet and such, and I talked to him via social media. Indeed, he told me he developed his style by merely using what he called the blues scales, which he said he actually didn't know much theory about. It's mainly a matter of timing and how to end the phrases, "walking" and "chasing the note" a lot, instead of bending and double stoping as you would in the Blues.

  28. #28
    Forum Member OldStrummer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
    Location
    Northern Virginia, USA
    Posts
    3,423

    Re: Playing Jerry Garcia (Dead and pentatonics)

    I like that: "Walking" and "chasing the note." If I can hold that in my head while playing...
    Striving to be ordinary

    Proud to be a TFF Dumbass!

  29. #29
    Forum Member S. Cane's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    Location
    Ever heard of José Carioca?
    Posts
    4,435

    Re: Playing Jerry Garcia (Dead and pentatonics)

    Quote Originally Posted by OldStrummer View Post
    I like that: "Walking" and "chasing the note." If I can hold that in my head while playing...

    No big deal, just practice “walking” through the notes, especially chromatic passings, accentuating each note until you hit the root as a punchline, jazz bassists do this all the time. Do this instead of bending or playing double stops and voilà: you got jazz (though a very simple form of it).

  30. #30
    Forum Member Offshore Angler's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    New York Finger Lakes Area
    Posts
    7,902

    Re: Playing Jerry Garcia (Dead and pentatonics)

    I studied music from 4th grade thru college, and my best friend's father was our high school music teacher (as is now his son if he hasn't retired yet) so I was lucky to be around it from a tender age. Sneaking into jazz clubs underage. Playing blues (poorly) down in Oak Cliff while I was still in HS. It's miracle I never became a junkie.

    But - The way I really learned to master scales on the guitar was when I had a surf band. That will cure you of the pentatonic curse in about 12 minutes!

    I'd suggest getting into some Ventures, Trashmen, Challengers, Surfaris, etc. as a route to Jerry if you're still having issues. That's the music that influenced proto-rockers and made the guitar popular "with the kids". It really influenced a lot of styles.

    Seriously, try some Los Straightjackets, or have fun and play some Southern Culture on the Skids (SCOTS) to learn your way around a fretboard in a hurry.

    Guitar playing should be fun and exciting a challenging.

    Go play some surf and tell us what happens to your playing.

    Uncle Chuck
    "No harmonic knowledge, no sense of time, a ghastly tone, unskilled vibrato, and so on. Chuck is one of the worst guitar players I know" -Gravity Jim

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •