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Storm Stenvold >> Eric Clapton style >>
Lesson Subject: Eric Clapton Style
What you learn: Part 3 - BluesBreakers Era
Teacher: Storm Stenvold

Storm: In this lesson you'll learn a few backing riffs and a 12 Bar solo in the style of Eric Clapton from his early days with John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers. Go ahead and load up the jam track. It's a 12 Bar Shuffle in the key of G.

Bluesbreakers 12-Bar

Storm: The three chords outlined are G7, C7 and D7. Now Eric didn't do much chord playing in this project. He was pretty much the 'lead' player. Still, good to know some basic voicings.

Storm: If Eric would play chords, he might often use 'partials'. Just two or three strings to imply the changes. Here are the full voicings. Use the same fingerings but experiment with these 'small' chords to the backing track.




Storm: More often Eric would play a riff to outline the chord progression. When he wasn't playing fills and/or lead.

Storm: This riff outlines the G7 chord change. It also could be thought of as coming from the G minor pentatonic. C9 is an extension of C7. Both fit. This riff could then be moved to outline the progression.

Storm: From the G at the 3rd fret, move up 5 frets for the C change, another 2 frets for the D change. Or move the root note of the riff on to the 5th string, staying at the 3rd fret. Then again up 2 frets for D.

chaz: Can I move from C9 to D9 also ?

Storm: Yes, all chords in blues are commonly the same quality. So the C9 shape could be used up 2 frets to work for D9. Up 7 frets works as G9 too. More backing riffs. The last example adds a hammer-on triplet and alternates to a different ending note. The 'blues' third. That 1/4 step bend.

Storm: This riff uses the same hammer-on move, this time out of the major pentatonic.

Storm: This last riff is similar to the bridge of 'All Your Love'. Cover of the Otis Rush song that kicks of the Bluesbreakers album. The last riffs also incorporates a position shift. Necessary to reach the high note of the last example.

Storm: Lets check out a solo in Clapton's style from this album. Then we'll break it down into separate licks that work with the jam track at the beginning. Listen to this next sound clip:

12 Bar Chorus - Bluesbreakers style

Storm: Through the form, 12 bars for this progression, is called a 'chorus' in jazz and blues. The opening lick starts on the 2nd beat. Half-step bends into the b7 of the scale. The blues 3rd again. And a hammer-on grace note adds some color to a familiar I-IV-I chord riff.

Storm: Here is a video clip to the phrase.


Storm: This next phrase goes over the G7 to C7 change, bars 4-5.

sj: Clapton doesn't use his pinky much

Storm: Not much at all in soloing. He'll use it in his chord playing. The double-stop riff in the lick works well over any chord of the progression. The end of the phrase is the start of the C chord change. Uses the minor pentatonic scale.

chaz: Is this all down picking in lick 2?

Storm: In a position often called the 'Albert King' box. I used all down strokes on that phrase, yes. Here is video clip. Just the left hand:


Storm: The next example really has two separate licks in it. The first half uses a half step bend at the 10th fret. Kind of a mix of the minor pentatonic with the 2nd added. Then a combination bend as the progression changes back to the I chord, G. First a whole step bend, then 1 1/2 steps, then a 1/2 step. Eric uses this technique as a big part of his phrasing.


Storm: This riff is over the V chord, D. Bend of the root note up a whole step over this chord change. More minor pentatonic otherwise, with position shifts by sliding.


Storm: And a turnaround lick to take us to the top.

Turnaround Lick

Storm: On to the next lesson when you're ready!


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