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Finally nailed "Johnny B. Goode"

Gretsch6136

Member
Messages
1,519
Well done! Playing Chuck Berry tunes properly is a lot more difficult than many people seem to appreciate. Anyone can do an approximation, but to get every note and subtlety just right takes some work. And then you have to find a drummer and bass player that know how to swing it.
 

Average Joe

Member
Messages
11,824
It's one of those tunes a lot of people "think" they do correctly, but don't. The original have some phrasingg that require a bit of work.

Btw, it is incredibly rewarding to actually nail something rather than approximating it. I play covers and often songs are added at the last minute so "good enough" will often have to do. Getting it absolutely right is more rewarding
 

Turi

Member
Messages
9,485
Yeah I noticed how far off my "approximation" of it was when I actually started learning it.
I learnt like.. most of the intro at some point in my life, and have always just winged the rest when messing about at home, always knowing I wasn't playing it properly but never getting too into it.

..not now! I can play that ****! Sounds pretty much as it should.
There's one particular part that I simply can't do - Chuck bends a double stop down on the B and high E strings, does it multiple times - it basically sounds like a classic rock'n'roll lick ('cuz it is, lol) and well my Jazzmaster doesn't let me.

I have to bend it upwards, because there's not enough room on the fretboard - it totally doesn't sound spot-on either.. just that one bit..
Bending on the Jazzmaster isn't as easy as bending on a Tele or an LP, it's like.. it might physically look like I've bent the note just as far, but sound-wise it's actually quite a bit lower than the equivalent bend on well, any other guitar I've played.

Not sure why this is, but it's a thing and forces me to play that one particular part wrong..

It was a whole lot harder than I thought it would be - it's a song I've always wanted to be able to play properly but figured I'd just do it one day because every other guitarist can do it no sweat so it must be easy enough for a beginner.
It's not. It's totally not. To be honest, it's a whole lot harder for me to play than some of the more fancy Setzer licks and solos I've picked up.

To get it to sound just right, there's some sorta awkward stuff going on where Chuck is like, weaving the melody backwards onto itself or something, I don't know, can't explain it.
But I've got it now. I know how it should be played and I'm going to keep trying to bend that one part down even though my Jazzmaster doesn't want me to.

Mad fun to play!
Totally agree with "getting it right" being more rewarding than approximating.
It's a weird feeling - knowing that you're getting every single note down, as it is in the song. Not winging any parts that you don't have down - but actually having it down pat.
 

Turi

Member
Messages
9,485
Good for you! I'm working on it myself
Awesome dude! Keep at it!
If you can't figure it out by ear, I kinda cheated with it a bit - Lick Library had/has a sale on, two for one - I got the Chuck Berry one and Brian Setzer one.
The Chuck Berry one to be honest, I was hoping it'd be a more "in general" kinda lesson on his style of playing - it's not - it's note for note how to play a couple of his songs, all the way through, not just the solos.
Obviously JBG is one of them. Also has "Roll Over Beethoven" and a couple of others.
I was disappointed at first but hey, it helped me drill this one and I'm feeling really confident with it now.. so money well spent?

The Setzer one I've nabbed a few licks from, actually learnt the first two solos from it already - both sound way fancier and trickier than JBG, but neither are anywhere near as hard to drill.

I'm really impressed with both of 'em. Keen to see what else Lick Library has to offer.
 

don carney

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
1,349
I have spent considerable time re visiting Chuck Berry and agree with you that there is a lot more there then I recognized as a kid (course that seems to be true of everything). The introduction to JBG is one of the great all time riffs. My band loves to play this song (now that I can actually play the opening riff). The lead in the middle of the song I have worked on but if not played daily for many weeks fades away and so you are left with close but no cigar. There also lots of other Chuck songs to re visit (Nadine etc).
 

Turi

Member
Messages
9,485
I have spent considerable time re visiting Chuck Berry and agree with you that there is a lot more there then I recognized as a kid (course that seems to be true of everything). The introduction to JBG is one of the great all time riffs. My band loves to play this song (now that I can actually play the opening riff). The lead in the middle of the song I have worked on but if not played daily for many weeks fades away and so you are left with close but no cigar. There also lots of other Chuck songs to re visit (Nadine etc).
Haha, yeah, he's got loads of awesome songs.
Yeah JBG is one of those songs where it's like.. I know he plays it differently live each time, but the recorded version is the one people know and it's one of a very small handful of songs that need to be played spot on, note for note IMO.
It sorta feels like an injustice of sorts to not play this one right - I always spot it when bands do it live too - not that I've ever known how to play it properly until now, but you always notice something is a little "off".

It's just one of those songs that needs to be drilled, as it was on the original. :/
I find the solos easier than the intro!!!
 

bob-i

Member
Messages
8,766
Awesome, that is a really tough one to get right.

The most difficult thing to nail IMHO is the straight 4 rhythm played against the doted 8th/16th feel from the drums and piano. I've never heard anyone get that right.
 

musicman10_1

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,902
I love trying to get a song down - especially one that I have an approximation of but know that I'm not all the way there. I need to get back at it and Johnny B Goode sounds like an excellent choice.
 

gennation

Member
Messages
7,600
I'd been paying the hendrix live version since I was a kid. I play it that way with bands all the time. But, I had to play it for a cruise ship audition a few years ago so I learned the original. I been playing it Chuck's way ever since. That original is great riff!

I should add I also play it with an Elvis impersonator...in that case I play the James Burton intro and solos :)
 

swiveltung

Senior Member
Messages
14,486
yeah.. many "simple" sounding songs are not that simple to do directly as original.... but you can see that at live shows by the original performer too... they do it "approximately" a lot of the time also! A complicated, "snapshot in time " in a studio often doesn't repeat itself. Although, Berry may hve been one of the better ones at duplicating.
 

Turi

Member
Messages
9,485
yeah.. many "simple" sounding songs are not that simple to do directly as original.... but you can see that at live shows by the original performer too... they do it "approximately" a lot of the time also! A complicated, "snapshot in time " in a studio often doesn't repeat itself. Although, Berry may hve been one of the better ones at duplicating.
Yeah, too true. Loads of artists play their originals differently live.
..but I mean, unless you're playing to a crowd full of Chuck Berry extremists, I think it's one of those songs where you'd really wanna get it as it was originally.
 

amstrtatnut

Member
Messages
12,712
The triplet thing in 4/4 in the first part of the intro is weird to me. I can play it but...its a head scratcher.
 

gmann

Member
Messages
8,716
Most of my friends think Chuck Berry stuff all sounds the same and that it's easy to play. I think it all sounds different and it's not as easy as it sounds. It's not the most difficult stuff to play but it's all unique and to play it accurately takes a bit of work.
 

CowTipton

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
9,117
That clip from "Hail, Hail, Rock n Roll" is the first thing that came to mind.
 




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