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Vintage Guitar Magazine Presents:

by Wolf Marshall

Subject: Clapton Bluesbreaker

Fig.3. Steppin' out with Slowhand. Over fast blues shuffles Eric is in a class of his own. Memphis Slim's "Steppin' Out" was a signature instrumental piece throughout his early years and presents a brilliant case in point. This piece, a cooking fast shuffle, was a show stopper in the Blues Breakers sets as well as Clapton's previous Powerhouse record and future Cream performances. This phrase depicts the sort of relentless soloing Eric employed in the heat of the moment during such excursions. It takes place over a fast 12-bar blues in G, and spans the final measure of the progression and the following four bars. The lick demonstrates a typical E.C. strategy which spreads the fleet pentatonic soloing over seven frets of the guitar and joins three familiar blues boxes in its course. 

A trademark gradual bend begins the pick-up lick in bar one. An often-heard Slowhand riff is found in bars two and three. Note the use of repeated notes in the riff figures which add considerable energy and rhythmic drive to the middle of the phrase. The passage is concluded with a quick descent into the first position which effectively milks the low register for a satisfying close. Set your amp and guitar controls on full for this lick, and dig in hard for a driving full-bodied tone with blues bite.

"I played these E.C. licks with a Gibson re-issue Les Paul Standard and a Fender Cyber-Twin amp. I used the rear pickup for Licks 1 and 2. Lick 3 was played with both pickups engaged. I used the stock "Blues Combo" setting in the Cyber-Twin's amp collection."

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