ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Guitar Lesson - Larry Carlton Blues

Updated on June 1, 2013

Blues guitar

I saw Larry Carlton play in the late 1970s with The Crusaders, a great jazz fusion band in a massive venue with virtually no audience, probably 100 people in a 2,000 seat hall. It kind of made a point about the best music being the least appreciated, a general principle that always seems to work!

Larry also played on many of the Steely Dan albums and with Joni Mitchell. The solo on Kid Charlemagne is rated as one of the best guitar solos, and still sounds great today.

Check out this video of Larry, one of the all-time greats, demonstrating the stellar technique and taste that makes him revered amongst the guitar fraternity.

Playing along

This is a standard 12-Bar blues in the key of C. Here are the chords, play each chord for 4 beats.

C9... F9... C9... C9... F9... F9... C9... C9... G7... F7... C9... G7...

You could play 7th, 9th, 13th chords in any order and mix them up. The last chord, G7, is good with a sharp 9 note added, or G7 sharp 9.

Scale choices - you can use the pentatonic minor scale (Cm) or the C blues scale.

Now that we have the chords down, we can apply them to many other songs - Mustang Sally is a great example. Although the number of bars on each chord will be different, the same three chords and the same scale patterns will work.

C blues - scales and chords

Blues chords

You can use 7th or 9th chords for a blues, and mix them up any way you like. You can also use both the scale patterns shown. For a less blues and more country sound, just move the whole pattern down three frets. This is a top tip for improvising!

More Larry stuff

Check out larrycarlton.com. In addition to guitar seminars, there are videos of lessons available.

Here Larry is playing a Gibson 335, his trademark guitar, with light gauge strings. He will often use pre-bends, where you bend the string to the target note and then hit it as you release the bend. A difficult technique that requires a lot of practice, but it's really effective in guitar solos.

Another thing to watch out for - when Larry bends a string, he's using other fingers to support the bend. This is the only way to really control the intonation, an aspect that is really strong in his solo playing. The vibrato is also great, not as extreme as BB King's, but similarly effective. The tone of the 335 is a thing of wonder.

Larry uses hybrid picking, where the pick is used but also the other right hand fingers. Many of the best players use this technique, Danny Gatton, Albert Lee etc. Can't get the hang of it myself, though it's obviously a great approach if you can do it right.

Gibson semis

The Gibson 335 is a classic guitar design, with many slight variations on the theme. I used to have a 345, which I should never have sold! There is also a 355, 356, (both upmarket versions) 333 and 339. The 339 is a smaller, scaled down body which is more comfortable to play. It's a bit heavy though.

Epiphone versions are also available, as a budget option. The main difference is in the pickups, so you could improve one of these guitars with better pickups - although semis are a nightmare to work on as the wiring is so difficult to get at.

More great blues players

BB King - the elder statesman of the blues

Robben Ford - a great jazz influenced blues player

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Jon Green profile imageAUTHOR

      Jon Green 

      8 years ago from Frome, Somerset, UK

      Thanks RayJack.I don't ever plan it, but always spend a lot of practice time on blues ideas.For me it's the jazz-influenced blues that is the best, back to Louis Jordan in the 1940s.

    • RayJack profile image

      RayJack 

      8 years ago from UK

      fantastic stuff.i've just bought myself a guitar for christmas after not playing for 20 years,used to play a lot of folk music and write songs,but i need to go back to the begining again,and it's the blues i fancy so i will be back to your page soon.

      RayJack

    • prosmentor profile image

      prosmentor 

      8 years ago from Lagos, Nigeria

      Great work! Please keep on writing this kind of article.

    • Jon Green profile imageAUTHOR

      Jon Green 

      8 years ago from Frome, Somerset, UK

      Hi Russ - I'm a big fan of "Mr.335". Robben Ford is also a great blues player. Cheers, Jon

    • Russ Baleson profile image

      Russ Baleson 

      8 years ago from Sandhurst, United Kingdom

      Wow! The master at work. He makes it look so easy!!! Amazing feel, texture and balls.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)