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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    For me, Betts is relatively easy to copy. Not easy like, it doesn't take work and repetition to learn, but it's do-able, mostly major, Dorian, and blues scales.

    Garcia seems to just throw in random notes and make it sound cool. I wonder, did he think, "How 'bout if I throw in a couple Phrygian notes leading up to the relative minor, then echo that theme leading back to the one chord"? Waaay over my head.

    Ranger, I think you are correct; he got a lot from Django.
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2019
  2. Chris4189

    Chris4189 TDPRI Member

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    That’s what I think about Betts

    But, I’ll be the first to admit I’m comfortable with major and minor pentatonic and mixing the two but the other modes I just can’t seem to nail/grasp. I tend to throw extra notes here or there myself because it sounds good to me. The dog howls but I think that is because he is cheering me on lol
     
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  3. Texicaster

    Texicaster Tele-Holic

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    Yep Jerry is tough because the simple line of notes does not tell the story! Guys will say "chromatics" but simply adding a chromatic run will not give you Garcia sound.


    Lost of subtleties. The essence of Garcias guitar is the fact it gots people on their feet and dancing! There's a "hidden" theme or melody in his most way out solos.

    Kinda fractal like in the way he overlaps and intersperses melodies with simpler themes. It's hard stuff and the fact few have mastered his approach (Mayer has NOT! John K almost!) speaks volumes. Most tend to over do it.

    Plus Garcia was THE best at building a solo! The last solos of Big River from Dicks Picks 1 still knocks me out and is THE perfect solo IMO! Holds the melody through out!

    I am really baffled how people on guitar forums bash Garcia. There are plenty of guitarists I can not stand but would never stoop so low to insult their playing! Trey comes to mind but I'm not so stupid as to say he can't play! That's bush league but at least helps us weed out the tin ear jack wagons.

    if you haven't found these site you may enjoy!

    http://jdarks.com/

    https://www.rukind.com/
     
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  4. Blue Bill

    Blue Bill Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    Great example. Just the noodle-y lines he plays behind Weir's vocals, man it would take me 100 hours to get close. Like many, this was my first Dick's Picks. '71 to '78 has always been my favorite.

    I'd love to see any Jerry-basher try to play 10 seconds of that song.
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2019
  5. EsquireOK

    EsquireOK Friend of Leo's

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    You and him have different personalities. Why would you want an improvised solo to be the same as another person's improvised solo? If you're playing Dead covers, or any covers, just improvise when the solos come up. You'll be soloing with your own personality, which is what the song originally called for from the guitarist.

    If it's a "part" more so than a solo, then by all means learn it "right," but IMO, you shouldn't stress on learning what were originally improvised parts.
     
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  6. memorex

    memorex Friend of Leo's

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    You're overthinking it. I play in a Dead tribute band and I'm the Jerry. For me, the hardest part is singing all night. The soloing is easy. Just use what you've heard Jerry do as a framework, don't try to cop anything exactly, and do it in your own style. Throw some chromatic licks in to connect the dots, and when you make a mistake, which is the whole point, make a brilliant recovery. That's Jerry.
     
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  7. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

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    It seems to me that Garcia follows the chords...and therefore the scales of those chords...letting one lead to the next...using the necessary ‘out’ notes to get there if desired. He has a great left wrist...fantastic picking technique imho...relaxed....in tempo while being totally at ease. Subdued while being sublime????
    Much of that Big River approach is right out of ‘60’s country guitar...with a bit of an edge to it.
     
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  8. Blue Bill

    Blue Bill Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    LOL! I have the make a mistake part down pat, it's the brilliant recovery I need work on. :lol:
     
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  9. Marc Muller

    Marc Muller Tele-Holic

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    Nothing easy about it. Posted before, still isn't easy....

     
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  10. fretWalkr

    fretWalkr TDPRI Member

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    I hear a bluegrass / country feel and playing over chord changes. He plays a lot in a major key with blue notes, mixolydian scales, pentatonic scales, and some familiar licks thrown in.

    Playing over changes requires you to have in mind what the current chord is and use the scales that work with the chord (chord scales). Shift your scales to emphasize the important notes of the chord, especially the 3rd and 7th. He builds lines with chromatic passing tones.
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2019
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  11. L.A. Mike

    L.A. Mike Tele-Holic

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    Some of Garcia' early influences besides 50's rock & roll were folk music, Appalachian music, Bakersfield Calif. country and Bluegrass. I remember him mentioning Doc Watson as being an influence as well as Django.
    So, it's a mixture for sure.
    He studied modal scales and tied scales together that way during his extended solos.
    Like was mentioned earlier, he used mixolydian and major Pentatonic scales a lot.

    This video is nice (music starts at 6 minutes. The intro with Letterman is great. It shows Jerry's acoustic side.
     
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  12. Blue Bill

    Blue Bill Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    Hi Marc. I've admired your playing since I first heard you. I watched your video of MAMU many times since you posted it a few weeks ago, what a workout.

    Mike, that vid of Letterman cracks me up everytime; a classic. I always wished JG would have been in a movie or two, with that sense of humor.

    Fretwalker, yeah, that's the tough part for me, trying to shift scales with the chord changes, on the fly, while keeping track of which chord we're on, and what's coming next. It's like rocket surgery for me. I did just practice the lesson for 45 minutes, it feels a little better.

    Thanks you guys, for all the encouragement and advice, I appreciate it!!
     
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  13. backporchmusic

    backporchmusic Friend of Leo's

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    Jerry just kept going. By that I mean he started playing and never paused for air. Most players, Betts and Allman included, who are somehow lumped in with him, played 'riffs' at points where they repeated phrases over and over to buy time to think and build tension. In other words, their lead work stalls at some point. Jerry just kept going.
     
  14. Junkyard Dog

    Junkyard Dog Tele-Afflicted

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    Let me preface my remarks with: I don't really care for the Grateful Dead. Don't hate them either, but I never got much of their songwriting, and I thought the singing was (to put it nicely) bad.

    Now that said, I think Jerry Garcia was a great guitarist and one of the best of the rock and roll era. Although I could never endure the 20 minute live Grateful Dead funeral dirges, someone above mentioned Big River...his guitar playing on that was outstanding!!! I also saw him one time in the 1980s with an acoustic band. It was not an acoustic version of the Grateful Dead...different musicians and not Grateful Dead songs. I liked his acoustic guitar playing in that band a lot too.

    I guess I've not even answered the question of "why so hard to play", but maybe it's just because he was a great guitarist with an unmistakable style. I've tried to learn his take on Big River (from a very good lesson at the link below)...it's hard.

     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2019
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  15. strat a various

    strat a various Friend of Leo's

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    Please don't take offense, but I'm getting the idea that you are wanting to learn some stuff that really requires some ear training, and you haven't had any/or not enough ear training.

    My analogy is Math: if you effortlessly add and subtract, and then just jump into some algebra or calculus, you shouldn't get frustrated that you can't easily figure it out. It's true, all the information is clearly written on the page, and it's logical, but without some training, you'll have a very tough time understanding it.

    Your problem is similar to first year music theory/ Jazz Band students who try to transcribe bebop solos ... they whip out the melody on a few easy ones, and then get bogged down right away in the fast sax lines during the solos.

    You need to start with maybe a little bit easier solos first, just for a few days, and learn to sing the notes you hear, in small phrases. Sing the parts in tune as much as possible. Two or four measures at a time to start. Eric Clapton solos and Duane Allman solos are good to get warmed up. Sing the phrases until you have them memorized. SRV is good, too. Just practice singing the notes of the solos, a few bars at a time. Then, find the notes you are singing on the guitar.

    Do this for a few days/weeks. Work your way up to the easiest Garcia solos you can find, do the same thing ... sing it, memorize it, play it. As your ears get stronger, it will get easier to figure out the faster parts. It takes time.

    If you keep it up, you'll get to where you hear notes you couldn't follow before, and you'll be able to find the notes and learn the solos. Don't try to make sense out of them from a theory perspective, get to that later. Just learn the notes, learn the solos.
     
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  16. Shuster

    Shuster Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    It's all about the beard,,,;)
     
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  17. Blue Bill

    Blue Bill Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    No offense taken, you are right on, that's where I'm at. I did start with Clapton; learned the solos for Badge, Crossroads, White Room, Nobody Knows You, also Stormy Monday from ABB, some Floyd, some SRV, etc. I did have to learn to sing the lines to learn to play them. Moving up to JG, feels like a whole new level. The last few years, I finally dedicated myself to learning the standard scales and modes, lots of training exercises and repetition. A few bars at a time, that's my mantra. I wish it didn't take me so dang long to learn new stuff.
     
  18. MilwMark

    MilwMark Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    I can't stand listening to that overplaying and noodling without saying anything. Nor his technique really.

    But listening to the clips posted here, I'm in the overthinking camp. He's just playing by ear and doesn't really care if he has a beginning-middle-end, nor if he plays something "right". He just plays by ear, flubs sometimes and has a good enough ear and enough experience to find his way back.

    Memorizing something like that is exactly the wrong approach. It's semi-random so it will be hard to memorize -and what would be the point? It's the antithesis of what he's doing.
     
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  19. LOSTVENTURE

    LOSTVENTURE Tele-Afflicted

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    Like any other solo, you have to memorize it before you try to play it. Break it down into phrases and work out each statement completely before going on to the next. Time consuming, but the effort will get you where you want to be. This is how I've been learning for almost 60 years now.
     
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  20. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I can see how someone might think this, but one can also posit that Garcia knew exactly what he could do and played the way he wanted to play. To be really good at that ‘free form’ approach, one has to have a firm grasp on the basics....and I think he had a really good grasp on what was going on. David Grisman respected his playing enough to work with him over the years.
     
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