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Beef up your Sound! Power Trio Playing!

Putting together 2 separate lines for a bigger sound on guitar can make a huge difference. Here's how to do it and how to practice to make it easy.

In at the Deep End!

"What time are we on?", asked our piano player via telephone from 30 miles away just 10 minutes before we were due to perform at a local charity day. With no chance he'd make it in time our band was all but reduced to a power trio for the gig (thankfully our singer is a top harp player) and I was to endure our set that day feeling like a rug had been pulled from under me.

Guitar parts that had worked well for years with a piano filling out our band's sound were suddenly laid bare. They didn't work any more and I didn't have much luck trying to work things out on the fly. Our 45 minute slot felt like a very long shift as a big hole in my playing was rubbed in my face.

(Companion Video. Click to play)

Today's Challenge - Gimme Some Loving!

Here's an example considering the following very basic guitar part I had used back in the 90s and which had functioned fine with a piano also taking up space but which just doesn't cut the mustard in a power trio situation. The song is "Gimme Some Loving" (of Blues Brothers fame).

(see video above @ 2m:10s)

A few years back I joined a true power trio with some friends as a side venture and "Gimme Some Loving" was to be one of the songs in our set. I sat down with a pen and paper and gave myself a guitar lesson on the art of filling out my sound.

The Top Line

Aside from the riff shown above the other big part of the song I wanted to get in was the main theme (instrumental melody), which fills 4 bars and goes like this:

(See video above @ 2m:42s)

You can see that the melody here incorporates semiquavers (beat 3 of line 2). If you have any problems playing this section correctly be sure to take the Taplature approach to quick success. Semiquavers are covered in this blog article and also in the free Taplature Crash Course sent to all subscribers.

It's Fingerpickin' Good!

Experimenting with getting our bass guitarist/singer to play the low riff while I played the theme (even fattened out with some chord tones) left a lot to be desired. Ideally I wanted to be able to play both lines together.

Taking a fingerstyle approach we could simply overlay the two parts and hey presto, two independent lines of music!

(See video above @ 3m:20s)

Bring on the Beef!

This fingerpicked version works, but more meat was definitely required! Taking the same framework and adapting to allow for some aggressive picking action along with some fulI sounding partial chords I finally settled on the following:

(See video above @ 4m:5s)

This arrangement still gives the impression of two guitars playing but offers a lot more punch and guts than the fingerpicked version. Using a heavy pick, the drive the song demands is evident.

Slow Down, Break Down, Exaggerate!

The stumbling block for most will likely be the semiquaver section and unless this makes instant sense it's recommended to use the Taplature "Million Pound Challenge" approach to get things programmed in correctly. Notes, foot tap and count all together make you do it right!

Practise until you are able to move your focus between each of the two independent parts, hearing each as separate entity. That ability tells you it's now strong enough to hold up in the true test; a performance situation! Here there's no chance to think; you have to switch off your conscious brain and just do it!


Old Swanner.

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