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Storm Stenvold >> Eric Clapton style >>
Lesson Subject: Eric Clapton Style
What you learn: Part 6 - Acoustic Era
Teacher: Storm Stenvold

Storm: In this lesson you'll be focusing on Eric's acoustic guitar style. A lot on his 'unplugged' playing, but you can find Clapton playing acoustic blues a bit throughout his career, all the way back to his Blues Breakers days. The intro music contains some of tonight's licks and a jam track to play along with will come after that.

Intro Acoustic Solo (988k)

Storm: A bit more focus on the acoustic blues tonight, but with time permitting I will hand out a other style riffs as well.

Acoustic Clapton Jam Track

Storm: The backing riff and solo are in the key of E. Here are some simple chord voicings to strum along with. Riffs in a second.




Henry: The backing riff is easy.

Storm: Good. The solos use some more advanced stuff. The backing riff is a 'boogie woogie'. Similar riff to many blues tunes, like Clapton's 'Before You Accuse Me.' Move the riff over a set of strings for the 'A' chord change in bars 5-6 and later in bar 10. This backing track is a 12-bar blues, don't you know. Here is the riff for the B7 change in bar 9.

Storm: Here is the opening riff for a solo. It is a Clapton favorite when playing acoustic. Double stop 3rds.

Storm: This riff outlines the E7 chord. Here is the 3rds pattern moving through the Mixolydian 'mode'. The Mixolydian is sometimes called the dominant scale, the scale to fit the 7th chord. These double stops sound great on acoustic. Nice and full.

Storm: Notice also the bass note underneath in the lick. Clapton would use a couple of different right hand positions to allow him to play melody and bass notes simultaneously

Fingerstyle Right Hand

Henry: Did he used bybrid picking as well ?

Storm: Yes, Holding the pick and sneaking in the fingers. First is standard 'Fingerstyle' right hand position.

Henry: How does someone like Clapton convert the original to acoustic was it a hard thing to due musically or does he basically use the same notes.

Storm: I think you have to consider the electric has more sustain so Clapton's acoustic playing has more of a chordal quality, in general. Keeps it more full. This fingerstyle position holds the thumb on the low bass note and uses the index, middle and ring fingers to grab notes on the melody strings. Here I am holding the 3rd, 2nd and 1st strings.

homeboy: Do you have a quick explanation of what "3rds over E7" means?

Storm: 3rds are an interval, a distance between two notes of the scale. Both notes stay in the same scale so the shapes change to fit the key. Try to memorize the pattern and make up your own licks. Here is another lick

Storm: If you chose to put in bass notes, a bit of palm muting can help keep them from over-powering the licks you are trying to play. It is a cool sound, one-man band kind of thing. The 4th fret-3rd fret notes are out of the pattern but move chromatically to the next combination in the pattern. Here's a video of both licks together:

3rds licks over E7 (652k)

Storm: Another right hand technique to try is the 'Brush Stroke.'

'Brush' Stroke

Storm: Here you use, again, the thumb for the bass notes. But using your index finger on an upstroke to catch the melody or chord notes.

Storm: Moving to the A chord the 3rds pattern changes. This same set of notes up two frets would work for the B7 chord.

Storm: Here are some other chord voicing to learn for E7. Clapton will use these, either full or picking notes from them, to move around the neck in his acoustic solos.

Storm: Here is a lick using one of these voicings. Works well as a turnaround, too.

What lick do you use when the chord swaps to B7?

Storm: I actually play the last measure of the '3rd over A' lick up two frets. I have heard Clapton use that from his Yardbirds days right up to Unplugged.  Speaking of turnarounds...

Storm: Hope this series on the Eric Clapton Style has inspired you and taught you new things. Thanks and feel free to email me through the website if you have further questions. - Storm

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