Chris Eldridge

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Nine Pound Hammer

Norman Blake Style Solo

Norman Blake has made some incredible records where he plays by himself, without accompaniment. One of my favorites is definitely Live at McCabe's. Be sure to look it up if you haven't heard it. The record opens with Norman playing Nine Pound Hammer. It's incredible. The guitar tone is some of the greatest and most authoritative you will ever hear, and it's remarkable how powerful and full Norman sounds by himself, even when stops playing rhythm to play a single note solo.

This week we're going to take a look at Norman's intro to the song and try to get inside how he does what he does.




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

Print Print Chords & Tab

Loop 0:00 Run-Through of Norman Blake Style Solo


Download the Sheet Music PDF


Loop 0:25 Breakdown of Norman Blake Style Solo

Loop 14:25 Closing Thoughts and Outro






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Travis Styer
Travis Styer Nov 23, 2018

Chris thanks for the message !  I will review and work on that  


Family in town so my normal practice space was taken!  So was in the garage with the space heater on ;) 


1938 D-18

Wild story man but I found it on Craigslist in Kansas City.  An older gentlemen whom played it all around the country for 30 years passed away this summer.  His family sold it to our family and it was just an amazing experience passing it from one family to another.  I still can’t belive I own it



Also i am I am a good friend of Jim Baggets and he says hello !



Travis Styer 

Travis Styer
Travis Styer Nov 22, 2018

Chris Eldridge
Chris Eldridge Nov 23, 2018

Hey Travis, 

Sounding very good! I can’t see your hands super well, but I don’t see anything in your face, neck or shoulders that indicates tension so that’s good too. That said, I see 2 areas for improvement:

-The sense of propulsive, forward-moving rhythm relents in a few spots: 0:10, 0:15, 0:21. None of these instances are huge, but they’re significant enough that they are distracting me from the sense of pure flow. And you ABSOLUTELY NAILED that sense of pure flow in the intro where you’re doing the rolling rhythm over the G chord (0:02-0:06). See if you can get all of it to feel as good as the intro. It might mean practicing/drilling some of the notey parts until they can’t make you stumble at all. 

-It’s hard to accurately judge this because I’m guessing that your video was recorded via a laptop and so microphone placement might be exacerbating this, BUT I think you could probably be pulling a richer, fuller tone. Again, in the intro there is a sense of resonance that is really nice and it seems to get just a touch more thin sounding as it goes along. As the video goes along it looks like your right hand moves back toward the bridge ever so slightly. Maybe 0.5cm. But even that tiny amount can make a difference. I could be way off with this second assessment, but take a look at it yourself. Maybe see what happens if you shift where the pick is hitting the strings ever so slightly forward toward the soundhole and let me know what you think. 

p.s. That is a great and old looking D-18! What year is it?

Kip Marchetti
Kip Marchetti Jun 28, 2016

Ok Chris - this is my take on the Norman Blake 1st solo ... but right off the bat ... as I just rewatched yours ... I notice my rhythm isn't quite right.

As for the speed of my playing - maybe someday but way better than when I started.

Needless to say - I'm happy about all that I'm learning here.

Kip Marchetti
Kip Marchetti Jun 17, 2016

I've lived my life probably like most people looking forward to Friday, the end of the work week, and a chance to relax. I still look forward to Friday but now for an entirely different reason. As I'm sure you have guessed and hopefully share my sentiment - I so look forward to seeing Chris pick and teach these cool lessons. I have no reason to blow smoke - it is a genuine happiness. I'm only a bit sorry that it took so long to discover that I love this form of music. I'm also looking forward to buying (downloading) Norman Blake - Live at McCabe's.

I don't know if I'll ever be able to play this solo but I'm going to have a lot of fun trying (minus the triplets ha ha). It may take a while for these old(er) fingers to get the hang of it. I did have better than average ... for me ... luck with Nashville Blues so I'm encouraged going in.

See you on the other side


Chris Eldridge
Chris Eldridge Jun 22, 2016

Kip, thanks so much for saying that! That makes me genuinely happy.

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