Corey Harris

Lesson >

Keep Your Lamp Trimmed

Post 2

In this lesson I demonstrate the alternating bass line as well as the melody.  Pay attention to your tempo (not too fast) and to the rhythm of the tune when getting the bass.  I also discuss how to hold the slide and ways to minimize noises by damping with your palm as you play.  Contact me with any questions or comments.

Topics and/or subjects covered in this lesson:
Open E Tuning

Print Print Chords & Tab

loop @ 7:25 to practice the open lick

$2.0 h2 $1.0 $2.0 $3.1 p0 $4.0 $6.0 |


loop @ 8:05 to practice the E7 lick.  The chord form is



loop @ 11:50 to practice the bass and vocal run through


loop @ 19:00 to practice the ending lick

$6.0.$5.2.$4.0.$3.1.$2.2.$1.0 $2.0 h2 $1.0 $2.0 $3.1 p0 $4.0 $6.0 | $1.12 $3. /12.$2./12.$1./12 |


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Alex Barbera
Alex Barbera Feb 20, 2012

@Corey....I have a friend down in Sardinia who's a liuther...When I come back there I will ask him some help...anyway, I have another guitar whose action is much more higher than this one so it could be not necesary to work on the nut...Maybe I should just avoid using the capo :))

Unfortunately I don't have friends who work in a machine shop here in Bologna...I've found this slide in a shop in Bologna...The only problem, if this can be defined problems, is that it's Eric Sardinas's slide ^__^..I don't like him very much...He seems to me he's too proud of himself and looks  he feels like being the best slide guitar player in the world!!! :DD...I don't like very much in general musicians with this kind of attitude!

I was interested in the slide you were wearing in the homespun video method...If I find it somewhere I'll buy one in the future and I was thinkin about also this one that maybe could be interesting when I play with my resonator guitar...It's keb's bottleneck...He truly has the attitude in making music that I like...

I've upload a new video on the latest cc pill blues lesson...If you have some time, could you give a look at it? :))


Corey Harris
Corey Harris Feb 20, 2012 more thing.  If you know anyone who has a machine shop and can work with metal, you might want to go look for some old brass pipe (from an old house) and then have them cut it to the size you need.  The slide I use was made this way by another guitarist and given to me a long time ago.

Corey Harris
Corey Harris Feb 20, 2012

@Alex...Yes, you can carefully remove the nut by gently tapping it loose.  Then you can reglue it once you have used the matchbook to add the height.  If this makes you nervous then ask a luthier to help you with it.  If you do it yourself, make sure that you don't add too much glue so you can take it off if you need to later.  You only need a little bit; the tension of the strings will help to hold it in place.

As for which slide to use, that is your call.  I like short, thick slides, either brass or steel.  A lot depends on the guitar that you use.  Just pick the one that works best for you.  It might take awhile to find the right one.

Alex Barbera
Alex Barbera Feb 18, 2012

@Corey..I misunderstood your precedent message about the nut.....I have two guitars..In both of them I can't remove the nut because it's attached to guitar neck!!!!...Should I do this operation manually???

I'm looking for a new slide...Which of this two would you recommend to me? One is called Harris Slide...I don't know if it's yours, but it's very similar...

I'm more oriented on this slide, but I'm fascinated also by this one...


Corey Harris
Corey Harris Feb 16, 2012 more thing about the action.  I'm not saying that you should do anything to the trussrod, but just the nut that holds the strings at the headstock (top) of the guitar.  When you take the strings off, you should be able to easily remove the nut and then add the matchbook cover (like I mentioned before) to raise the level slightly.  Action is really key in making your slide sound good or bad, so just think about it.  There is no way you can damage your guitar by just taking the nut off and adding a little bit more height to it.

Corey Harris
Corey Harris Feb 16, 2012

@Alex...the whole story of Robert Johnson selling his soul to the devil is completely untrue.  It was invented by white journalists decades after he had died.  Eight months?  I think it was more like two or three years of intense practicing and being around cats like Ike Zinnerman (?) and later Son House and Charley Patton.  He also listened to a lot of records.  To say that he sold his soul to the devil takes away from all his hard work he put in to making his music sound the way it did.  Nobody will never sound like him because he was expressing own sound...the best somebody can do is learn the music in their own way and express their own sound through the tunes.  So forget trying to get it just like him and forget all the talk about the devil.  Just make it sound good to your ears and take your time.

Corey Harris
Corey Harris Feb 16, 2012

@Mike...that is much better.  I can hear the lighter touch.  I think you only need to work on the phrasing of the slide.  You can listen to my version here or just go back to Blind Willie Johnson version and listen to what the slide is doing.  Try to take your attention away from playing positions and listen to what the slide is saying.  In the next lesson I will work on slowing down the slide and phrasing. 

Mike Caren
Mike Caren Feb 14, 2012

@Corey .. OK .. thanks for the feedback on tilting the slide.  It's working for me so glad to hear that you think it's good approach.

OK .. here's the bass and thumb together.  I still need practice as there are some rough parts and as you say Corey .. lighter touch.  That said, I'm feeling encouraged as I think I'm going to be able to bring this one together!

Alex Barbera
Alex Barbera Feb 13, 2012

Corey, I haven't thought about the action of the guitar!!!!!...I usually play open and standard tunings with a capo on the 2nd fret..if I avoid using it the action will result higher...I prefer not to put my hands on the trussroad cause I'm not very confident with this kind of things and I'm worried to make letteraly a disaster...:DDD

About Robert Johson, I think you're reffering to Terraplane blues or stones in my passway, isn't it?...:) In my opinion, talkin about this kind of technique, his masterpiece was Crossroad blues but my favourite is Preachin Blues(Up Jumped the Devil)..I still remember the doc of martin scorsese where you and keb were talkin about Robert Johnson and played together Sweet Home Chicago and walkin blues...For me was awesome to see two of my reference points for acoustic blues playin together the song of my first love...anyway, I don't want to be too prolix because if i start talkin about robert Johnson and everything that sorrounds his person I will go off topic but as a believer in God, call me stupid, I believe that he sold his sold to the devil or whatever else because for me is almost impossible to think that a musician in only 8 months could become better than Son House,Charley Patton etc...There are people playin many years the blues without being neither a nickel in their hands, and Robert made it in less than one year!!!...But this is because I believe in angels, demons, God and the Devil...:))

Thanks for your advices...I will buy a new slide....;)))


Corey Harris
Corey Harris Feb 13, 2012

@ Alex - Two suggestions: raise the action on your guitar just a little bit.  Check out what I wrote to Mike above on how to do that.  Also, slow down you playing and concentrate on the sound of the slide and making your wrist more fluid.  I think this might help.  Let me know....

Corey Harris
Corey Harris Feb 13, 2012

@ Mike...Saw your video.  I think you idea of tilting the slide a little bit is good.  That is a big part of it - just using the slide on the strings you want to play - otherwise we would all end up sounding like a beer commercial!  I suggest using a lighter touch on the strings.  Also, it would help if your action was a little bit higher.  I used to take a matchbook cover and fold it over once so that it is double thickness.  Then I would cut it to the size of the nut and then glue it underneath.  That gives you something like 1/16th of an inch in height, which should make playing easier.  You can still play in standard tuning this way, but if you have a guitar that you can use only for slide that would be better.  

Corey Harris
Corey Harris Feb 12, 2012

@Alex....yes, I think a small slide is much better.( Sorry, but I'm not able to listen to your video right now.  I will check it tomorrow.) That way you can change the angle (slightly) of the slide so that you can isolate the string that you want to play and minimize any extra noises.  I think it is a great idea to not use the slide always when making notes.  That adds to the dynamics of the song!  Check out Robert Johnson...I forget which song, but he did that.  Sometimes he would play a whole songs and then play the last few notes to let you know he was playing slide.  I dig that.  Keep it up.

Alex Barbera
Alex Barbera Feb 11, 2012

Hy Mike,

I'm not ahead of you....we're all students here and we are at the same level...^__^...I've started studyin this tune I think in july 2011 but I haven't put much effort on it just because I concentrated myself on other things...but this just to say that I'm not new with keep your lamp and for this reason is easy to result "ahead"....

I thank you for your advices Mike....I'm making a lot of changes in my way of playin since I started joinin' sonic is avoid thumbpick and the other is to catch the slide in that alternative way Corey clearly explained in this video...this will be another great switch but I like more the sound of the slide and it seems I can make easily the vibrato :)))

Will you upload some videos with singin too? ;))))

Mike Caren
Mike Caren Feb 11, 2012

Great video Alex!  I always enjoy seeing your videos.  You're ahead of me as usual!  I'm still working on getting the bass and meldoy to behave together.  

I had an issue with the strings ringing too.  What helped me is I started rotating the slide so it only touches the string I was trying to play .. and it helped a lot!  I'm not sure if this is good technique or not .. but I thought I would share it.  Here's a video below to try and show you what I am doing.  I had to stand over my computer to capture this .. that's why the playing is so bad!

Alex Barbera
Alex Barbera Feb 10, 2012

Hy Corey,

I recorded this yesterday so I didn't have the chance too see the new lesson...anyway I think could be usefull to give a look at it anyway....Actually I'm not new with Keep your lamp. Despite this I'm still having problems with the alternate bass, palm muting and when I play with the acoustic guitar the sound seems to me too noisy...This doesn't happens with the resonator maybe because the strings are larger, but I think is prevalently a matter of touch...and now I'm using 0.13 on my acoustic guitar, so they're not so thin!

I've tried to use slide as you suggested us to do but it's becoming difficoult for me...It hurts my hand a little but I think it's normal if you are at the beginning...I normally use a bottleneck but If I want to change the tecnique I think I should get a smaller one...

What do you think about  not always using slide when making some notes? ...I've tried yesterday , just for fun, to alternate the use of bottleneck...

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