Rhythm Workout. Organ Style Comping

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Organ Style Comping guitar lessonOne great way to inject new ideas into your guitar playing is to borrow a style or two from other instruments… The chords featured in the demo tune might be unfamiliar, but the minimal feel of this style of playing overrides any real technical difficulties. As you’ve probably deduced from the title, this example draws on the tradition of jazz organ style playing and applies it in a guitar context. It’s healthy to be aware of what other instruments can do and be able to assimilate their licks into your playing style. From a soloist’s point of view, for instance, you can learn a lot from listening to sax players; while guys such as Allan Holdsworth and Frank Gambale would arguably sound very different if they’d never heard the likes of Michael Brecker.

Similarly, you may have heard guitarists such as Buckethead and Scotty Mishoe applying slap bass techniques on a guitar – very successfully, I might add! From a sonic point of view, Eric Johnson’s creamy overdriven tone owes more than a little to the violin and, as an example of someone porting licks and techniques from one instrument to another, think of Yngwie Malmsteen’s distinctive playing style and the sort of ‘stunt violin’ you can hear on any recording of Paginini’s ’24 Caprices’. As a final, slightly more off-the-wall example, players such as Tom Morello (of Rage Against The Machine) have incorporated some DJ-style scratching sounds into their vocabulary. The next lesson Organ Style soloing.

The main point is that the guitar can do all this stuff; it will never sound exactly like any other instrument, but it can be used to quote elements of the sounds normally associated with other instruments – hopefully giving rise to something original in the process. Okay – sermon over; let’s look specifically at how the organ vibe can be translated onto guitar.

Organ Style Comping. Tonally speaking

To get an appropriate tone, the best thing you can do is to run your amp through a Leslie rotating speaker (think Hendrix or Stevie Ray Vaughan). However, these monstrous cabs contain noisy motors and need to be cranked quite high to get a clear sound without background hum getting in the way (just ask the poor guy who lived next door to me a couple of years ago!). What’s more, they weigh a ton and take up lots of space. Fortunately, though, technology is here to help us, with Leslie emulators now readily available; the lesson was recorded with a Hughes and Kettner Rotosphere, which does a pretty good job of recreating the swirling top end produced by a rotating speaker while sitting comfortably on your pedal board. The other thing you can do to obtain a more authentic organ style sound is to ditch your pick. When a keyboard player executes a chordal stab you hear all the notes simultaneously, but if you’re strumming a chord on a guitar with a pick you’ll find that you cannot recreate the same immediacy and attack. Aim for a fingerstyle approach, which enables you to allocate a separate finger to each string and therefore produce all the notes simultaneously. It’s worth spending some time experimenting with the alignment of your fingertips on the strings and checking that each finger sits on its respective string when at rest. You may find it helpful to squeeze your fingers together (like Mr Spock’s hand trick but without the gap between the second and third fingers) so that once they’re lined up they’ll stay that way.

Back it up

The backing track is a jazz-blues in G, and you’ll pick up on the lazy swing feel which runs throughout (Phil kindly described it as a “quiz-show vibe”). The idea of the comping part is to complement the bass and drums, so rather than choosing a set rhythmic figure and repeating it, you’re constantly listening to the rest of the band and, if you like, “conversing” with them. Features which are particularly organ-esque include the long slide down from a chord (there’s one near the end of the second chorus), the idea of playing a double-stop containing a minor third and immediately hammering on to a major third (see the start of the third chorus) and, finally, the overall sense of sparseness, which means a well-timed chordal stab will sound that much more effective. Always allow yourself plenty of space…

Now, let’s see an organ player try to copy one of our string-bending licks!

Organ Style Comping tab sheet

It’s a part of Organ Style Comping lesson

Below you can download a full copy of

 lesson with backing track for free

DOWNLOAD HERE

20 December 2012 0 comments
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