I got a ton of questions regarding this lick on my “Slow Blues in G Two Ways” video, here we break it down in detail.
This very cool concept uses a high pedal note played together with moving notes from the blues scale underneath. I honestly don’t remember where I came across the idea for this, whether from George Benson licks or from Danny Gatton licks, but it is very reminiscent of something that they both did. Gatton would usually do kind of the opposite, using a low pedal tone and move notes from the blues scale on top of it. This concept works wonders over blues and is a real crowd-pleaser, Enjoy!
PEDAL POINT GUITAR LICKS
Pedal tone or pedal point licks use a simple musical device in which one note is repeated in unison with other moving notes.
History of Pedal Points
Pedal points, or pedal tones, came to us from organ players. Organs have the ability to play a long sustained note while other notes are free to play melody and harmony at the same time. They were traditionally a deep bass note played with one of the organist’s foot pedals, hence the name. You can read more on the Wikipedia page about Pedal Points.
Pedal Points in Blues Guitar
Same as with the organ, pedal points can be played as a low bass note on guitar and are used this way in many old blues songs as a repeating bass drone. The pedal point licks shown in this video are in the context of the lead guitar and the pedal tone is at the top of the chord structure with the notes below moving. These examples use the tonic, or root note, of the key but the 5th can also be used. You can think of them as double stop licks where one of the notes of the pairs does not move.
These really are organ style licks for blues guitar. If you imagine an organ playing these as you listen you will be able to picture it. There are other free lessons in this website that show double stop guitar licks that have been influenced by the sound of the organ players.
George Benson is one of the most phenomenal guitarists (and singer) ever with a vast knowledge of scales and harmony, which he delivered at blistering speeds. He is best known for the Soul Jazz genre but his earlier work was very much straight ahead jazz. You can learn more on the George Benson Wikipedia page and on the official George Benson website.
George Benson’s discography shows that he made 36 studio albums, 5 live albums and 2 music DVD’s. He was awarded 10 Grammy Awards for both his instrumental and vocal performance and also for album of the year.
Danny Gatton has been dubbed, “the world´s greatest unknown guitarist”, and also as, “The Humbler” and, “The Telemaster”. He is the man behind the style known as Redneck Jazz, which combines blues, rockabilly, country, and jazz. Guitarist Steve Vai reckons Danny “comes closer than anyone else to being the best guitar player that ever lived.” He was included in the top 100 guitarists of all time in an article by “Rolling Stone” and in the “Top 50 Guitarists” on the old Gibson website.