Blues Guru Robben Ford

June 17, 2005

If you’ve got a keen eye and a decent ear, you can snag some cool licks and chord progressions by simply watching other guitarists play. A perfect example is the cool blues vamp [below] that I picked up watching the late, great Joe Pass one night.

At first glance it may appear complicated, but once you get the concept behind the progression you’ll find it’s a simple I-IV-V blues in C. It’s all about the pickup chord, Db9#5, and how, from a half-step above, it drops into the I chord, C9, on the first beat of the opening measure. Db9#5’s root isn’t actually played, but C9’s root is sounded, though independently of the rest of the chord—it hits on the 8th fret of the lowest string the middle of the bar [on the and of beat two]. That’s it! Aside from some re-fingering, there’s nothing more to learn about this progression—just move the two chords up a fourth (i.e. up a string) for the IV chord as shown [Gb9#5-F9] and up a whole-step from there for the V chord as shown [Ab9#5-G9]. Keep things rhythmic and funky, and when you’re ready to end this blues, try closing things out with a zesty grip like the C13 in the very last bar.

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