How to Play a Turnaround Lick in the Style of Robert Johnson – Acoustic Blues Guitar Lesson

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What’s happening guys this is Jon McLennan with Guitar Control, today we’re looking at Robert Johnson kind of Acoustic style blues playing. This is based off, the 12 bar blues, and we’ve got a nice turnaround lick, something you might hear like “On Sweet Home Chicago” or “Kind Hearted Woman Blues”. Robert Johnson was a phenomenal, and one of the most amazing delta blues players.

Check the image above to follow the chords and tabs.

Let’s jump into this lick, I’m showing it to you in standard, a lot of times Robert Johnson would tune down a half step, or use a capo on the second fret. Anyways you can take this lick, and we’re just playing an e, and you can capo it up, and move it around but you’ll get the basic idea of a turnaround lick. This is what we’re playing here and it goes in the last two bars of a blues.

It’s really important to have a lot of these under your fingers, we’re going to start with the open e, and then have this shape up on the second string third fret. I put my first finger down right diagonal across on the next string fourth fret and I’m going to put my second finger, so I’ve got third fret, fourth fret on the second and third strings, so I play the low e using pick and fingers because I play a lot of hybrid style.

I’ve got pick on the first note, middle finger on the next note, and then open e with my ring finger. Now if that’s uncomfortable for you, you can both play all the notes with the pick and then we’re going to drop that one half step, one fret to the second fret, and on the third fret. Keep your fingers on the strings it kind of guides you in, some people will play something and then they take their fingers off and they go, what’s next is keeping your fingers there, and move it down and that’s going to be three, two, zero, drop it down another fret two, one, zero, again my fingers, I’m keeping all of that as smooth as I possibly can, and then I end with the open e and third finger kind of pinch, or third string pinching those notes.

You know if you’re playing pick, you can play all three strings hammer in, we’re basically implying an e chord with the top three strings. Real common sound you hear in the blues, and then here’s a great Robert Johnson chord, it’s a b7 but you’ve got the second fret, second fret, first fret, second fret, and open. So I’m playing there pick on the low string then grab all these notes together and play an open kind of a cool sound especially getting the low f sharp in there. A lot of people in the blues will play a b7 which is cool, here’s how Robert Johnson would do it so let’s try the whole example, jam along with me and see if you can drop that lick in the last two bars of the blues here we go.

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