Artist spotlight: Keith Richards

This Artist Spotlight features the Rolling Stone’s Keith Richards. This particular spotlight will be a bit different as we are going to look at two classic Stone’s tracks that feature Keith Richard’s common tuning of Open G.

If you are unfamiliar with this don’t panic as  it’s really easy to tune your guitar to Open G. Start off by putting the guitar in drop-D by lowering the low E down to D. Then lower the 5th string (A) down one step to G. Finally drop the 6th string (E) down one step to D. Playing all the open strings from the 5th string down will sound a G major chord.

Open tunings are often used when playing with a slide but Richards used these tunings for rhythm playing and created a style and sound all of his own.

Can’t you hear me knocking: Example#1

|-------------------------------------|-------------------------------------|
|-------------------------------------|-------------------------------------|
|-10--7--9p7-----------------7--------|--10p9--7--9p7-----------------7-----|
|-10--7--9p7--10p9--7--7--9--7--------|--10p9--7--9p7--10p9--7--7--9--7-----|
|-------------10p9--7--7--7-----------|----------------10p9--7--7--7--------|
|-------------------------------------|-------------------------------------|

Can’t you hear me knocking: Example#2

|--------------7--7--7--5-----------------|
|--------------7--7--7--5--7--5-----------|
|--5-----------------------7--5-----------|
|--5--------------------------------------|
|--5--------------------------------------|
|-----------------------------------------|

|------------------------------------|----------------------------|
|-----5-----0------------------------|----------------------------|
|-----5-----0------------------------|-10p9--7--9p7---------------|
|-----5-----0------------------------|-10p9--7--9p7---10p9--------|
|--5--------0------------------------|----------------10p9--------|
|------------------------------------|----------------------------|

Brown Sugar: Intro

||-------------------------||
||---13-12----5-5--6-6-5---||
||---12-12----5-5--5-5-5---|| x3
||---14-12----5-5--7-7-5---||
||---12-12----5-5--5-5-5---||
||-------------------------||

||-------------------------------------------------------||
||---8-8-8--8--8-8---5-6-6-6-5---1-1-1-3-3-3---6-6-6-5---||
||---8-8-8-10-10-8---5-5-5-5-5---1-2-1-3-5-3---5-5-5-5---|| x2
||---8-8-8--8--8-8---5-7-7-7-5---1-1-1-3-3-3---7-7-7-5---||
||---8-8-8--8--8-8---5-5-5-5-5---1-1-----3-3---5-5-5-5---||
||-------------------------------------------------------||
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Artist Spotlight: Stevie Ray Vaughan

Difficulty: Medium/Advanced | Guitar used: Fender Stratocaster | Tuning: Standard

Stevie Ray Vaughan (SRV) is one of my favourite guitarists and I can’t be alone in that as he was ranked #7 in Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time. Heavily influenced by Jimi Hendrix, Albert King and Buddy Guy he went on to bring the Blues back into style in the mid 80s.

His main guitar was a beaten ’62 Fender Stratocaster bought in Austin, Texas. The guitar was heavily modified during his career but always had large gauge strings on it- usually 0.13 to 0.58 but sometimes a ridiculous 0.18 set! He would usually tune the guitar down a half-step to Eb but my examples are all in standard tuning for convenience.

Tragically, he died in a helicopter crash in 1990 returning to Chicago after a sold-out gig with Eric Clapton and Buddy Guy. He was only 35 years old and a true blues legend.

Little Wing live@El Mocamo says it all.

The Hendrix Influence- Testify

|-------------------|-----------------------------|
|-------------------|-----------------------------|
|---------------8v--|-14pb16r(14)p12---12v--------|
|---------------7v--|----------------14-----14p12-|
|-7-------------x---|-----------------------------|
|---4--5-6--6-7-7v--|-----------------------------|

|------------------12----------------|
|---------------12----15--------15---|
|--14b16==(14)r----------14s17-------|
|------------------------------------|
|------------------------------------|
|------------------------------------|

The example shown above highlights the influence of Jimi Hendrix on his playing style. Note the fast pre-bends into pull-offs and stylistic use of the minor pentatonic scale.

Texas Shuffle

|----0----0-----0-----0-|-----0-----0-----0-2-0-|
|----0----0-----0-----0-|-----0-----0-----0-2-0-|
|-----------------------|-------------------2---|
|-----------------------|--2--------------------|
|------------2-----4----|--------------2--------|
|-0----3h4--------------|--------3h4------------|

The Texas Shuffle is a rhythmic technique where you play a percussive mute on the up-beat. You can here SRV use it on tracks such as Pride and Joy and Cold Shot. Use your fretting hand to mute the strings after you play the notes on the 1st and 2nd strings. This is all about attitude so dig into the strings as much as possible! My example is a slightly simplified version of SRV’s riff in Pride and Joy.

Jazz Blues- Riviera Paradise

                                 Emadd2            !
|-^10-12-10-^8-10-8-^6-8-6------|-----------0----|-0-----------8-/11-|
|-^10-------^8------^6-----/9-7-|---------0------|-0-------11--------|
|-^10-------^8------^6-----/8-8-|-------0--------|-0-------10--------|
|--------------------------/7-7-|-----4----------|-4--------9--------|
|-------------------------------|---7------------|-7-----------------|
|-------------------------------|-0--------------|-0-----------------|
                        B6            D6
|--9-7-----------------|------------------------|
|------10---/10-8-7----|---7---/7-7-7s-10-10----|
|------------/9-----9--|---8---/8-8-8s-11---11--|
|------------/8--------|---6---/6-6-6s--9----9--|
|----------------------|------------------------|
|----------------------|-7-----/7-----/10-------|

Another big influence on SRV were Jazz guitarists such as Kenny Burrell. I have picked out the intro to Riviera Paradise as a good example that shows this Jazz influence in his playing. The ‘!’ in the tab should be played as an arpeggio starting on the 1st string and strummed as close to the bridge as possible. I’ve used the whammy bar on certain notes, particularly the B6 and D6 chords.

Buddy Guy Influence- Leave my Girl Alone

|----8--8--8----8--8--8----8-8s5------17\-|
|-8h10-10-10-8h10-10-10-8h10-8------------|
|-----------------------------------------|
|-----------------------------------------|
|-----------------------------------------|
|-----------------------------------------|

|----8--8--8----8--8--8----8-8s5-------------------|
|-8h10-10-10-8h10-10-10-8h10-----------------------|
|--------------------------------7b9==(9)r(7)p5----|
|-----------------------------------------------7v-|
|--------------------------------------------------|
|--------------------------------------------------|

SRV covered this Buddy Guy song on the 1989 In Step album but you can hear Buddy’s influence in loads of his songs.

Artist Spotlight: Omar Rodríguez-López

Difficulty: Medium | Guitar used: Fender Telecaster | Tuning: Standard

Originally a bassist, he switched to guitar during his early years with At the Drive-In. After 3 albums he and lead singer Cedric Bixler-Zavala left and would go on to form The Mars Volta. The debut album De-loused in the Comatorium showed his unique song writing talent with a mixture of Latin, Jazz and progressive rock.

He blends rock, punk and jazz with an array of effects and frenetic technigue to create a real signature sound. In an interview he suggested that his general dislike of the guitar formed the basis for his unorthodox technique!

These examples show a range of Omar’s guitar playing styles and if you are unfamiliar with his music then hopefully you’ll take a closer look.

Example#1: Eriatarka- chorus

|------------------------------------------------------------|
|------------------------------------------------------------|
|------------------------------------------------------------|
|-111111------9-9-9-------7-7-7-------0-0-0---x--x-x---------| x3
|-x-x-x-------x-x-x-------x-x-x-------x-x-x---x--x-x---------|
|-7-7-7-------7-7-7-------7-7-7-------7-7-7---x--x-x--9b10r9-|

|------------------------------------------------------------|
|------------------------------------------------------------|
|------------------------------------------------------------|
|-7-7-7-7-7-7-7-7-7-7-7-7-7-------10101010101010101010101010-|
|-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-------x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x--|
|-8-8-8-8-8-8-8-8-8-8-8-8-8-------11111111111111111111111111-|

If you don’t have the CD then Listen to the track here with the example above starting at 1:24 to get an idea of how it sounds with bass and drums. I love the way the drum ‘n’ bass beat works with the staccato guitar.

Example#2: One Armed Scissor- chorus

  Em7              Dadd11
|-----------------|------------0------|
|-8-8-8-8-8--0----|-3-3-3-3-3--3------|
|-7-7-7-7-7--7----|-0-0-0-0-0--0-x-x--|
|-x-x-x-x-x--0----|-4-4-4-4-4----x-x--|
|-7-7-7-7-7--7----|-5-5-5-5-5----x-x--|
|-----------------|-------------------|

  Amadd9                   C5
|--------------------------|-------------------------|
|-----12-12-12-12-12-0-x---|-------------------------|
|------x--x--x--x-x--0-x---|-------------------------|
|-10--10-10-10-10-10-------|-------------------------|
|-12--12-12-12-12-12-------|--x--/10--10-10-10-10-10-|
|--------------------------|--x--/8---8--8--8--8--8--|

This is the song that first got me into Omar’s playing. This is from the classic at the drive-in record, relationship of command. The transition between the D and Am is a bit tricky but remember it’s supposed to sound a bit messy- hitting the odd open string or muting others is good in this case!

Example#3: Inertiatic ESP- bridge

|----------------------|---------------------|
|---------------------|----------------------|
|----------------------|---------------------|
|----------------------|---------------------|
|-0h2-0h2-2-2-2-2-2-2-|-0h2-0h2-2-2-0h2-0h2--|
|----------------------|---------------------|

|---------------------|-----------------------|
|---------------------|-----------------------|
|-2h4-2h4-4-4-4-4-4-4-|-2h4-2h4-4-4-4-4-4-4---|
|---------------------|-----------------------|
|---------------------|-----------------------|
|---------------------|-----------------------|

|---------------------|---------------------|
|---------------------|---------------------|
|-6h7-6h7-7-7-7-7-7-7-|-6h7-6h7-7-7-7-7-7-7-|
|---------------------|---------------------|
|---------------------|---------------------|
|---------------------|---------------------|

|---------------------|---------------------|
|---------------------|---------------------|
|---------------------|---------------------|X2
|-2h4-2h4-4-4-4-4-4-4-|-2h4-2h4-4-4-2h4-2h4-|
|---------------------|---------------------|
|---------------------|---------------------|

|-----------|-----------|-5----5----|
|-3----3----|-----------|-0----0----|
|-4----4----|-3----3----|-4----4----|
|-x----x----|-x----x----|-----------|
|-2----2----|-2----2----|-----------|
|-----------|-----------|-----------|

Again, if you haven’t heard this track check out the official video here. The example above is the bridge part at 3:14. It features some fast single string picking with hammer-ons occurring off the beat creating a sense of tension leading into the break down part at the end.