Paul Jackson Jr ‘Science of Rhythm Guitar’ Transcription

A few people have been asking me to transcribe some of Paul Jackson jr’s ‘Science of Rhythm Guitar’, specifically from this clip:



Here is one time around the chord sequence (1:56 in the video). It gives a nice insight into the style of rhythm guitar Paul is demonstrating in the clip. There are some nice licks to lift from this but the main point of the excerpt is to understand the style and concept behind the part.

I hope you enjoy the clip and transcription – I’ve got the rest hand-written, so let me know in the comments below if you’d like me to computerise the rest of the transcription so you can read it on the blog.



This type of guitar playing is quite fashionable in some circles but the majority of intermediate players simply force their favourite one or two chord licks into a sequence without really hearing the overall musical effect of their efforts. Don’t be that guy!

This sort of player will learn a couple of licks for a minor chord, a couple for a major 7 chord, practice them until they’re almost smooth and then start trying to use them on a gig. This rushed approach will do your playing a great disservice.

To sound really authentic, it’s important to drill a lick more thoroughly – take it through all twelve keys, learn it in different positions, understand why it works, note the intervals in use, explore variations.  Go deeper with the concept, ingrain it into your hands and your ears, and then come up with your own approach. Remember the learning process: imitate, assimilate, innovate.




Basic Blues Guitar Lesson 1

Today we’re going to begin our series of Basic Blues Guitar Lessons. The aim of this series is to get your blues guitar playing up and running from a beginner’s start.

In this week’s video I show you how to play a basic blues progression, complete with a live demonstration. Just follow along with your guitar and start playin’ the blues!

The Chart

In the video I promised a structural chart to show how the three chords fit into a 12-bar blues. I’ve included the chord names and numbered the bars so you can follow along with the video example.

Remember that each ‘bar’ (or ‘measure’, if you prefer the American terminology) contains four counts. After twelve bars, we go back to the beginning of the sequence (bar 1) and start over. (The video section that explains this starts at 3 mins 22 secs).

One time through the whole structure, from bars 1-12, is commonly called ‘one time around the form‘ or sometimes ‘one chorus‘. So if you’re jamming with a musician and he asks you to play  an intro ‘one time around the form‘ or ‘play one chorus‘ he wants you to play through bars 1-12 as an introduction to the song.

Sometimes, mid-performance, a singer might encourage you to take an improvised solo (we’ll cover how to do that in a later lesson) and will call for you to ‘take a couple of choruses‘ or ‘take a couple forms‘. He means for you to take 24 bars (twice around the 12-bar form) to play a guitar solo.


That’s it for this installment, please do comment below if you have any questions on the lesson (or requests and suggestions for future lessons).

See you next time for the next Basic Blues Guitar Lesson installment!

Miloco Studios Album Session, 11 July 2011

On Monday 11th of July 2011, a dashing group of ne’er-do-wells descended upon Miloco Studios for the recording of American jazz singer Joe Francis’ latest album. There was blood, sweat, tears, and other fluids (tea, mainly) but by the end 12 full tracks were in the bag.
A very special day with the whole band (all 9 of us) tracking simultaneously in the same room – not such a common thing these days! We had a lot of fun playing Ben Donnelly’s classy arrangements.
A note for the gear heads, I played the entire session with my strat through a gorgeous Fender Bassman – the only pedal I used was a Boss Tuner! If that isn’t old school, I don’t know what is!


Joe Francis Album Session, a set on Flickr.

Metronome Secrets for Guitar 4/4

Welcome to the 4th and final part of the series on Metronome Secrets for Guitar. Over the course of these articles I’ve covered lots of different and interesting ways to use the metronome to improve your time-keeping, groove and technique. I hope it’s been a nice intro for those new to this tool, and a refresher with some creative new ideas for those who are already metroprone.

Moving the Pocket

In this installment we’ll be talking about placement of the pocket within a groove.

Having read the last three installments of this series, one might be forgiven for thinking that ‘good time’ is the ability to play in perfect time with the metronome, striking your notes at exactly the place that the metronome does. Certainly one of the foundations for good time keeping is the ability to play a part without speeding up or slowing down. And while that’s a great place to start, it’s not all there is to it.

To really play with groove, you need to be able to identify where the band is feeling the pulse and sync in with that. It may not be exactly on the click. They may be consistently playing a fraction of a second behind where the ‘click’ would be…they’re not slowing down, they’re in time and maintaining the tempo…it’s just that they’re playing slightly behind it for effect.

Different styles of music have different ‘pockets’. Some require the musicians to play slightly behind the beat for a relaxed, lazy feel; while others call for a pocket that pushes slightly ahead of the click for a sense of drive and urgency. Different drummers have different pockets too, even in a simple backbeat no two drummers place their snare drum in exactly the same place.

If you play with the same group of musicians again and again you’ll find it easy to lock in with each others’ grooves. A seasoned pro can quickly identify a new ‘pocket’ and sit in it – this comes from years of playing with lots of different musicians. In most situations, every member is contributing to the pocket – different members holding back, pushing, setting the groove. The key is consistency – it’s no good playing behind the beat in one bar and ahead of it in the next!

In this video I play some examples of ‘on’, ‘ahead’ and ‘behind’ pockets – try to listen and feel the different energies in each one. I’ve exaggerated the examples to make things nice and clear.


For a really fantastic example of pocket playing, check out Steely Dan playing ‘Babylon Sisters’. How would you describe the band’s pocket? Is it behind, on the beat, or ahead? These are masters of groove, can you play along and lock in with their feel as if you were on stage with them?