Clapton Riff



WATCH FOR SPEED BUMPS. . .I'll never forget as a young player trying to impress an older guy (who was playing bass on the same job) with how fast I could play. He was a very good bass player with a reputation of helping the young gun guitarists in town if he liked your playing. So when it came time for my guitar solo, I really let him have it. I played as fast as I could and after my solo I kinda glanced up to see his response. He was visibly "not" moved by my playing. After the song was over he leaned over to me and whispered, "Did somebody tell you you were getting paid by the note tonight? You're here to play 'music' not to see how many notes you can play." Man, did he take me down a notch or two! I walked out of there later that night like a dog with his tail between its' legs. He taught me a valuable lesson though...

Speed isn't everything.

... If it was, the great blues players wouldn't be as popular as they are. They use a variety of sounds and techniques that color their playing in a way that makes people want to "hear what they have to say" musically speaking.

What we're really talking about here is what is referred to by other instrumental musicians as "phrasing." If you have pretty good left hand dexterity, you can do alot of things that add fire to your sound rather than just trying to play fast. By the way, I don't care how fast you can play, there's always someone faster out there. There's a line a mile long of players that demonstrate their blinding speed, just playing fast, on and on and on. . . how boring.

I judged a "Guitar Wars" competition a few years back and the first guy that got up there began to play these really fast runs and, I must admit, I was pretty impressed. . . for about 30 seconds. That's all he did, stand there and play fast runs for about 3 minutes straight. Crazy thing is, he wasn't the only one. Almost every one of the other contestants after him sounded exactly like him. Little cookie cutter players that all sounded exactly alike. How do you judge that?ERIC CLAPTONEric Clapton has alot of personality in his playing. He always has. That's why we used this riff as an example- to encourage you to get some of his older stuff if you haven't heard it. Go get several of his CDs and really study the way he executes the notes he plays. His early stuff was pretty high-energy and his later stuff was full of expression in a different way.

One good idea is to look through the Clapton books in the bookstore.THE HAMMER ON AND THE PULL-OFFThe Let's look at two of the left-hand techniques used in this riff, the Hammer-on and the Pull-off. Both techniques require you to pick the first note but only finger any subsequent note(s) with your left hand. For a visual example see the HANDS guide.

The Hammer-on
To hammer-on, you play a note and finger the next note you want to play on that string above it. By "above it", I mean higher in pitch on the same string. Look at the example below from the riff:



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