Why is J Garcia stuff so difficult to play?

Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by Blue Bill, Jul 14, 2019.

  1. Blue Bill

    Blue Bill Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    A few days ago, TelZilla posted a thread on about the hardest thing we each can play. I'll tell you what, I can not, for the life of me, pick up Garcia solos. I've been trying to learn the solo for Brown Eyed Woman for two weeks, it's like learning to speak Chinese for me.

    I've learned the easy GD riffs and intros, but the solo stuff, man it is elusive. I started out playing mostly blues; I seem to be fixated on the back beat, the 2 and 4. JG seems to focus on the 1 and 3, maybe that's the problem. Or maybe it's based on a banjo foundation, an instrument that baffles me.

    Any clues or advice? I've been a deadhead for decades; I've listened to countless hours of his soloing, and I love it, but can not seem to get the hang of playing it. There must be some secret formula, right?
     
  2. memorex

    memorex Friend of Leo's

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    Which version of BEW are you trying to learn, the one on Europe 72 doesn't have much soloing in it.
     
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  3. rangercaster

    rangercaster Friend of Leo's

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    I think Jerry's playing is so purely improvisitory that you can't really apply any logic to it ... I am a fan of 40 years + and a player for a similar period ... I would describe his style as chromatic scale oriented ... Meaning a scale that contains all notes ...
    I try to play with a similar mindset ... And most likely fail ... But it is fun to try ...
     
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  4. schmee

    schmee Poster Extraordinaire

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    Google: Mixolodian. Bam! Done. Then all you have to do is play random notes in that mode and you have become JG. Oh, and don't forget to randomly stretch a string slightly sharp.
     
  5. Marc Morfei

    Marc Morfei Tele-Holic

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    I don’t know very much Grateful Dead. But from my experience, the rhythm of their songs is kind of unique, very syncopated or something. As for his leads, he’s not just riffing off a blues scale. I suspect he’s in some alternative mode. Some guys know the Dead stuff backwards and forewards. I’m sure someone will respond that actually knows what they’re talking about, with an actual answer.
     
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  6. Blue Bill

    Blue Bill Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    Yeah, it's only 2 times around, maybe 60 seconds long, arrrgh. I even bought a video lesson, from gratefulguitarlessons.com, with slowed-down vids and everything. I'm not sure what show this particular solo is from, but it sounds legit, when he plays it, but not when I try.
     
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  7. Boil

    Boil Tele-Holic

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    I think it requires some LSD
     
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  8. Blue Bill

    Blue Bill Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    Schmee: LOL!
     
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  9. Blue Bill

    Blue Bill Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    Schmee: "Google: Mixolodian. Bam! Done. Then all you have to do is play random notes in that mode and you have become JG. Oh, and don't forget to randomly stretch a string slightly sharp."


    That's what I thought, but it turns out, he plays all these really complicated and speedy riffs, one after the other, switching modes and scales every couple of beats, what the *#+&?
     
  10. memorex

    memorex Friend of Leo's

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    Jerry's live soloing was a lot of scales, and pentatonic stuff (ala Dicky Betts), connected by chromatic series of 3 or 4 notes. It's also about taking chances and making mistakes (or accidentals if you look at it that way), and then gracefully recovering back into the flow, much like his personal life.
     
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  11. steve v

    steve v Tele-Holic

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    I’ve been able to learn some specific solos, but I still struggle to improvise like Jerry. One time I was really nailing something, later realized I was in the wrong key (but somehow playing the right notes for the song)
     
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  12. Larry F

    Larry F Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    I tended to think of him as the point man for extended jams.The point of the solo isn't to make a statement, per se, but to lead the band into interesting territory. The whole band sometimes seems to be part of JG's solos. But if the whole band isn't onboard, then a JG solo can sound thin and interminable.
     
  13. Blue Bill

    Blue Bill Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    Hi Larry. True dat. After something like 10,000 hours of recorded soloing, there's bound to be a few clinkers. I'd be happy to sound just a little like him, just for a moment or two, once in a while, but so far, I always feel a little embarrassed at how not-Jerry-like I sound.
     
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  14. Rusty Shackelford

    Rusty Shackelford TDPRI Member

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    For me, I need to know what chord tones to be on and keep that in mind when listening critically. From there either learn his phrases note for note from a specific show or improv in a similar but not exact way
     
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  15. Greggorios

    Greggorios Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    :) yes, very much so.
     
  16. KCJonez

    KCJonez Tele-Holic

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    I think he was the best, so of course it's tough. You need to know the fretboard, you need to be aware of the chord of the moment, you need to know the chord tones for that chord, you have to be comfortable starting phrases at the end of the previous bar, you need to know arpeggios, you have to be able to walk into chord tones through chromatics, and you should know a bunch of bluegrass runs. These are all things, btw, that I cannot do, which is why I also find it hard to play Jerry Garcia solos. Another guy I love from that era is Dickey Betts, but I don't find it nearly as complicated. Jerry had his own thing going and it drew from such a range of material. People can joke all they want, but there was a lot more going on with the GD than just a bunch of fans and band members getting stoned...BUT, they definitely knew how to craft tunes that played to that state better than anyone ever.
     
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  17. omahaaudio

    omahaaudio Friend of Leo's

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    You're not high enough?
     
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  18. Chris4189

    Chris4189 TDPRI Member

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    I really can’t get into the GD, all their stuff sounds the same to me but I’m a big ABB fan and as pointed out already Dickey falls into the category for me.

    I think with Jam bands like the ABB and GD there was a lot of improv, minor mixed with major and they pulled from pentatonic, Dorian, mixolydian, blues scale and lord knows what else and if you combine all that it makes it tricky to nail note for note IMHO. Plus, they seemed to have a changed some of their solos/jams from show to show.

    Then on the flip you have bands like the original Skynyrd who had standing orders from RVZ and Allen Collins to play everything note by note, no improv whatsoever. If the song is in G the solo is G major or G minor etc.! I read a tidbit by Leslie West and he tried to get AC and Gary to jam with him on stage and they wouldn’t do it. I think some players have the ability to lay it out and go into the cosmos and others don’t.
     
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  19. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Here’s a tutorial..

     
  20. rangercaster

    rangercaster Friend of Leo's

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    A true improvisor is cognizant of the chord changes, but not held to rules, scales, modes ... Jerry and Django are from this school ...
     
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