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Michael Johnson >> Southern Rock Legends >>
Lesson Subject: Southern Rock Legends I
What you learn: Lynyrd Skynyrd Style Part 1
Michael: Michael Johnson

Michael: Welcome class to the lesson series on Southern Rock Legends! In this lesson we will cover the style of Lynyrd Skynyrd. Skynyrd has a very distinct guitar sound, using rock, blues and country type licks, but having more "edge" to the guitar sound compared to other southern rock bands like The Allman Brothers. Skynyrd featured 3 guitarists; Gary Rossington, Allen Collins, & Ed King. Ed King later leaves the band and is replaced by Steve Gains who was a very skilled player. Steve Gains and lead singer Ronnie Van Zant died later in a plane accident in 1977. The current line up consists of Gary Rossington, Rickey Medlocke (Blackfoot) and Hughie Thomasson (Outlaws). This lesson will be the first of a two part lesson series. You can hear the licks you will learn in these lesson in the lesson sample.

Lesson Sample - Highband - 3.2 Meg

Michael: Let's start with the rhythm guitar for the 1st riff.

Part 1 - Rhythm Guitar

Michael: Notice you use a common Am, G and F progression for the rhythm. In the 3rd bar you jump to the C chord. Here's the looping jam track.

Looping Jam Track 1 - Lowband

Michael: Let's try some licks over this rhythm. The licks will be in the key of A Minor:

Part 1 - Solo 1

Part 1 - Solo 1

Michael: This lick starts in the A Minor Pentatonic pattern on the 5th fret. Here's the scale pattern you use.

A Minor Pentatonic

Michael: Now in bar 4 you shift up to the 2nd box pattern of the A Minor Pentatonic, here's the pattern:

A Minor Pentatonic - Box 1 & 2

Michael: Do you see how the 2 patterns are related? These patterns are very common for rock. Let's jump to the next set of licks:

Part 1 - Solo 2

Part 1 - Solo 2

Michael: This lick starts with a double stop slide within the 2nd box pattern of the A Minor Pentatonic scale pattern I gave you earlier. Then you move using double note intervals on the 2nd and 3rd strings. Then you jump back into the 1st box pattern of the A Minor Pentatonic using a descending run that starts with a bending note on the 3rd string/7th fret. In bar 4 & 5 you play the pull-off lick again that was used in the 1st lick. You resolve the lick by playing a variation on the double stop notes at the beginning of the lick. Let's try another lick:

Part 1 - Solo 3

Part 1 - Solo 3

Michael: This time you play the double stop notes in the 1st box pattern of the A Minor Pentatonic. You continue by playing the lower notes of the same box pattern until bar 3, where you jump into the A Minor scale. At this point you play a pull-off that ascends the related scale on the middle two string (G & D). Notice how the pull-off lick adjusts the the scale patterns as it ascends the middle 2 strings. Here's the patterns that are used for the pull-off notes.

A Minor Pattern - G & D Strings)

Michael: See how all the notes are layered. This allows you to play some very cool ascending and descending licks. Make sure you play these licks over the looping jam track. Here's our next lick:

Part 1 - Solo 4

Part 1 - Solo 4

Michael: Now this lick uses the 4th box pattern of the A Minor Pentatonic scale pattern. Here's the pattern:

A Minor Pentatonic - 4th Box Pattern

Michael: Notice in bar 3 of the lick you add the 2nd note (B) of the A Minor scale in a repeating descending run. In bar 4 you bend the 2nd string (B) with the 3rd finger, then playing notes on the 1st string (E) using your 4th finger. Let's try another rhythm.

Looping Jam Track 2 - Lowband

Michael: Let's try a lick for this rhythm track.

Part 2 - Solo 1

Part 2 - Solo 1

Michael: This lick is actually in the D Major pentatonic. The rhythm guitar plays D, A, G, D, A, Bm, G. This lick uses a perfect 4th note, which is not included in a D Major Pentatonic, this extra notes sounds very cool when included with the Major Pentatonic.

Frank: Michael, what gauge strings are you using? And what kind of guitar?

Michael: For those of you wondering what guitar and string gauge I'm using, it's a '50s RI Tele with .11-.52 gauge strings. Well time to go! We'll continue this lesson next week!

Frank: Man, it's been absolutely great, Michael! Thanks so much!

Michael: Thanks, see you next week!

Doug: thanks

Markl: thanks


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