Chris Eldridge

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Nine Pound Hammer


Tony Rice Style Solo

This week we're picking apart Tony Rice's solo on Nine Pound Hammer from his masterpiece album Manzanita (and if you don't have Manzanita, get it!). Part of the fun here lives in the subtle syncopations that Tony is using in his phrasing, so be sure to pay extra attention to that side of things.

Enjoy!

Chris

 

 

 

Topics and/or subjects covered in this lesson:
Bluegrass
Chris Eldridge
Tony Rice
Norman Blake
Nine Pound Hammer

Print Print Chords & Tab

Loop 0:00 Run-Through of Tony Rice Style Solo

 

Download the Sheet Music PDF

 

Loop 0:43 Breakdown of Tony Rice Style Solo

Loop 19:42 Closing Thoughts and Outro

 

 

 

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John Robinson
John Robinson Jun 30, 2016

Hey Chris,

    Here is a runthrough on Nine Pound Hammer. Just a couple things to note: I found myself having to move my right hand back a bit toward the bridge because the notes were getting a bit tubby/loose at the end of the B part. I think I'm not used to playing so fast and Tony-ish. I also found myself having to pick a little lighter to keep things clean, which is a good thing I imagine. Is that a good approach to these types of songs? I also imagine it could be that I was playing on an OM. 

    Also I am recently recovered from the 6th (and hopefully final) surgery on my forearms/wrists, so I am struggling a bit with technique, relaxation, and overall 'feel'. I have lots of plates,screws, and scar tissue in there, so my arm feels very stiff overall. If you have any notes on such things, I'm all ears. I'm much more concerned with that stuff than with specific note flubs, etc. 

Thanks!

John

Chris Eldridge
Chris Eldridge Jul 23, 2016

Hi John, well done! The main thing is that you don't have to pick all of those notes. Use hammer on's and pull offs to make your life easier. Not only does that give your right hand a break (even a mini one note rest can help maintain your stamina!), but it will help the phrasing of some of those licks as well. For instance, at the end of the first full measure where you play from the 1st fret of the 4th string to the open 4th string leading into the C chord (it's at 0:13 on your video), play that as a pull off. When you play the C run immediately after that pull off, you can incorporate slides and pull-offs. I made a video to show you what I mean:

Giving your right hand those brief rests will help you to relax and get more of a flow going. That said, you're very much on the right track. Keep up the good work.

Chris

Kip Marchetti
Kip Marchetti Jun 29, 2016

Here are a couple of quick run throughs of the 1st half of the Tony Rice Solo. You can tell me if I'm on the right track or close or whatever. The 2nd half is another ball of wax as I'm entirely out of my element. Thank you!

 

Chris Eldridge
Chris Eldridge Jul 19, 2016

Hey Kip (and John!), sorry somehow I missed these two videos you guys posted on this lesson a few weeks back so sorry for the slow response time. Better late than never I suppose!

Kip, the timing of these phrases is off with some consistency for most of the A-part. Try singing along with my version until you know it and all of the syncopations exactly and can sing it correctly without hearing my version. Then once you've got that down, try playing it on the guitar.

John, I have to run to the studio (Julian Lage and I are in the middle of recording a new record!) but I'll answer your video when I get a chance in the next few days.

Cheers!

Chris

Kip Marchetti
Kip Marchetti Jul 19, 2016

I'm really happy and excited to hear that you and Julian Lage are back in the studio.

I know it takes forever but I'm already looking forward to a release.

As for the pickin' - my rendition excludes this part lol ... I added some of the things you did but didn't formally teach and maybe I'll try to do a video when the opportunity presents itself but now you've introduced Church Street Blues and I'm mesmerized.

John Robinson
John Robinson Jun 25, 2016

Hi Chris-

    Great lesson! I have a question about the scale(s) used here. I know it starts in G blues as you say, but when he switches to the C chord for instance is he thinking 'C blues', etc? Or is he thinking key of G still but trying to accent the C chord tones more? If you can't speak for Tony, how do you envision it in your playing? It's easier for me if the chord switches to like a B7 or something I'll play B mixolydian, but since the 4 and 5 chords are diatonic to the root except for one note it kind of throws me off, if that makes sense. That probably means I'm overthinking it.

    I guess I'm wondering not about this song in particular, but in a more general way about how different players approach this stuff. I know there's no one right way, but I've been stuck on how to visualize and what scales to use when improvising in a bluegrass context. I'm always wondering how I should be thinking when I go to the the 4 or 5 chord. I know most of the notes are same, so I'm more thinking about how to visualize it, and get a better understanding of WHY some of my favorite players are choosing the notes they use. I'm comfortable playing in any key and switching between whatever scales and all that, but I'm not sure it's the best way for my playing.

    Thanks!

       John

Chris Eldridge
Chris Eldridge Jun 29, 2016

Hey John,

I know for me (and likely Tony and most other flatpickers as well) I'm not actually thinking in terms of scales when I'm playing. While improvising, if I'm thinking of anything theoretical I'll tend to think in terms of triads or seventh chords. So when it goes to C I might think of a C triad, and I might think about adding a b7 (Bb) as well if I want a funky flavor in there or a major 7 (B natural) if I want a pretty flavor. That's a pretty broad generalization of the thought process but the important thing that I want to get across is that I tend to see this more as a C7 (or C Maj7) shape than thinking of all of the individual notes. 

In this particular case I see the phrase that he plays over the C chord as containing a pretty classic G-run (but here it's technically a C run!) that he doubles back on to get a funky Bb and bring it home with a bluesy pentatonic phrase.

It's hard to talk about this stuff without the benefit of being able to play and show you exactly what I mean (which I can't do for the next few days because I'm traveling), but hopefully this sheds a bit of light?

John Robinson
John Robinson Jun 30, 2016

Thanks for the info Chris. That definitely does shed some light. I try hard to visualize chord shapes/triads all the time when I'm playing, so I guess I'm on the right track? I don't usually think about 7th chord shapes, even when playing bluesier stuff, so that comment about the C7 is especially helpful. I guess I need to learn those 7th shapes/arpeggios up the neck now...

Thanks again!

Chris Eldridge
Chris Eldridge Jun 25, 2016

Kip, that's what I like to hear! You got this!

Kip Marchetti
Kip Marchetti Jun 24, 2016

Chris - thank you for showing us this  incredibly great Tony Rice lead. I have zero chance of learning it but wow ... great. You may recall that it virtually took me 3 months to almost nail Gold Rush. If I ever come close on this lead .. I would probably be hesitant or intimidated to play it for you since you admireTony Rice so much. I think it may be out of reach for me at this point in my flatpicking journey. We'll see. My plan was to show you my Norman Blake solo you taught last week but I think I'm just going to put that on hold for a bit while I stare at this one. Thanks for another record recommendation. Manzanita will be in my nightly dog walking ... earbud listening routine shortly. Norman Blake's Live at McCabe's didn't disappoint at all.

Unrelated question because I'm just curious about this - is your guitar plugged in or mic'd now and/or when you perform? Thanks man.

Kip Marchetti
Kip Marchetti Jun 25, 2016

The morning after - Manzanita is a great record and there is so much I want to learn how to play. Disregard everything I said about never being able to play this particular lead - I'm on this until I can.

Jeff Caldwell
Jeff Caldwell Jun 24, 2016

Will you have the pdf for the Tony solo?  

Mike Caren
Mike Caren Jun 24, 2016

Hi Jeff --- thanks for letting us know.  All fixed.

 
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