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  • Simon Joseph James

    Finger Picking Blues Riff Vamping Over G6

    by Simon James.

    Finger Picking Blues can be immensely satisfying to play when just kicking back on the veranda on a hot day! Getting the coordination, however, between fingers and thumb and incorporating the shuffle can be tricky.

    In this excerpt we will be vamping around a G6 chord ensuring that the root note G is ringing all the way through while vamping over the top using one finger to make the chord a G6sus4. Sounds complicated, but really it's actually very simple!

    Begin by playing the G6 in the first bar, using your thumb and index finger to sound the low G and the high G together. Then with your index finger play the 6 in this case the E before returning to the higher of the two Gs played before . It is at this point that you should work on incorporating the shuffle whereby you play the E closer to the second beat instead of halfway through the first. To make this easier count the first beat as a Triplet, playing the G octave for the first two and the E on the 3, so on the 1 and 3 of 1,2,3.

    You will notice that the second time you play the G octave comes just before the 3rd beat, thus allowing you to get a real feel for that slightly syncopated sounding shuffle.

    In bars 2 and 4 the picking pattern remains more or less the same the difference being that you will begin to vamp on the G chord whereby you add the C with your first finger thus making the chord a G6sus4 just before the 3rd beat. You return to the G6 chord before beat 4 thus completing the vamping of the G chord.

    twickenham green


    Loop this pattern over and over and you will see that it is a really simple and effective way to play finger picking blues in the style of Robin Pecknold from the Fleet Foxes or Ray Lamontagne. From this foundation you will find it relatively simple to rearrange the pattern and add other notes from the chord.

    This excerpt is form the song Twickenham Green. A complete version of this tune will soon be available in my Folk/Blues Finger Picking Songbook

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