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SpaceCaptain
Fresh Boarder
Posts:18

Bobby's Chord Voicings

#113370 2 years, 9 months ago
I have been back into the guitar for a few months, and I 'm finding it more difficult to play Bobby's part than Jerry's.

His chord voicings are so unique and (to me) unintuitive. Does anyone know a source that explains some of his chords, and possibly tabs them out?

The more I break down the dead musically, the more I appreciate that Bobby has incredible amount of talent, as much as Jerry in my opinion. He's just harder to hear.
skidoo
Gold Boarder
Posts:929
skidoo, skidoo.....ski-doo doo doodlie doo doo doo

Re: Bobby's Chord Voicings

#113400 2 years, 9 months ago
check out JDarks if not already. sometimes he explains both parts...jerry & bob that is

www.youtube.com/user/JDarks

www.jdarks.com/
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edheadwharfrat
Expert Boarder
Posts:697

Re: Bobby's Chord Voicings

#113405 2 years, 9 months ago
SpaceCaptain wrote:
I have been back into the guitar for a few months, and I 'm finding it more difficult to play Bobby's part than Jerry's.

His chord voicings are so unique and (to me) unintuitive. Does anyone know a source that explains some of his chords, and possibly tabs them out?

The more I break down the dead musically, the more I appreciate that Bobby has incredible amount of talent, as much as Jerry in my opinion. He's just harder to hear.


I have been playing rhythm guitar on Grateful Dead songs in bands for years, and I am far from unraveling exactly how Bob plays his parts. As a general rule of thumb, he does not play either open chords or fully voiced bar chords using all six strings, but tends to play groups of three notes (triads) instead. During the vocal parts of the songs Jerry is usually playing what a rhythm guitarist traditionally plays while Bob is usually up higher on the neck playing "fills".

What I try to do is to play something that complements what the other guitar is doing without matching it. Besides only playing parts of chords, I try not to play the same exact beats as the rhythm section but instead play off of those beats.

I also try to pick individual notes and small runs of notes here and there to add texture to the chord changes. What helps me is to try to do something a little bit different each time I play the tune. While I am singing lead on songs I play very simply and tend to add more color during the jamming parts.

That's my take on Bob Weir's style. I've sort of learned a little bit about how he does it through trial and error, as well as watching him on video and watching other guitarists imitating his playing. It is definately a lot of fun to try to play that way.
Without love day to day insanity's king
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Little Bear
Gold Boarder
Posts:1079
...they probably take care of themselves

Re: Bobby's Chord Voicings

#113437 2 years, 9 months ago
Before you even try to Figure out his Unique voicings, your gonna need to get your self a car horn synthesizer... No way 'round it.
~God bless the Hampton Inn~ ~And You~
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scar1et_f1re
Platinum Boarder
Posts:4900
R U Kind?

Re: Bobby's Chord Voicings

#113446 2 years, 9 months ago
I trust you have not graduated to victim or the crime. Even Jerry said the chords are all intuitively wrong on that one (paraphrased, so chords may not be the proper word)
FFF! Family is Forever!!!

May God bless and keep you always
May your wishes all come true
May you always do for others
And let others do for you
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dr bakes
Platinum Boarder
Posts:4385
Dizzy ain't the word for the way you're makin me

Re: Bobby's Chord Voicings

#113448 2 years, 9 months ago
He plays in odd time signatures
Strangers stopping strangers just to shake their hand
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BillyDeLion
Junior Boarder
Posts:294

Re: Bobby's Chord Voicings

#113474 2 years, 9 months ago
SpaceCaptain wrote:
I have been back into the guitar for a few months, and I 'm finding it more difficult to play Bobby's part than Jerry's.

His chord voicings are so unique and (to me) unintuitive. Does anyone know a source that explains some of his chords, and possibly tabs them out?

The more I break down the dead musically, the more I appreciate that Bobby has incredible amount of talent, as much as Jerry in my opinion. He's just harder to hear.


Skidoo gave great advice. That's the place to look.

In my opinion, Bobby is so freaking under-rated as a guitarist. I have spoken to so many people that think it's easy to play his parts, and I know right away that they either never tried, or they don't even play guitar.

I can listen to Jerry, and even though I may not be able to play a lot of it (make that MOST of it), at least I understand what's going on. Bobby played stuff that's so unique it's truly like no other guitarist, and like you said, it's not intuitive.

To me the classic Bobby chords are in a song like Terrapin where he plays an F chord by playing the A chord shape on the D, G, and B strings moved up to the 10th fret but also adds the 13th fret on both the high E and the B strings. Then he will play a C chord with barely a movement by keeping the same position and playing the 13th fret on the B string and the 12th fret on the G string.

I saw Weir playing Bertha at MSG from up close once, and went home to figure out what he was doing. He played a shape similar to the C chord shape that I described above, but moved down to the 5th fret so it's a G chord (A string and D string both at 5th fret, G string at 7th fret, B string at 8th fret, playing the notes DGDG - no third note. This is a great chord that works over a major or a minor chord) for the C chord he simply played the D, G, and B strings at the 5th fret. A lot of these shapes can easiliy be altered to create extended chords or 7ths, minors, etc

So much cool stuff in GD songs are Bobby and so many people have said to me that he's replaceable. I don't even bother arguing with them about it. Let them believe what they want. The high register guitar licks in the intro to ChinaCat and the intro to Terrapin, etc, all that is Weir, without him it wouldn't sound right! Any song Jerry sang, during the vocals, the guitar licks are Bobby's and Jerry is just playing chords while he sings for the most part.
These are the good old days!!
wlewis
Platinum Boarder
Posts:6476

Re: Bobby's Chord Voicings

#113479 2 years, 9 months ago
hang ten out on space and time
who else is gonna bring you, a broken arrow?
wlewis
Platinum Boarder
Posts:6476

Re: Bobby's Chord Voicings

#113482 2 years, 9 months ago
scar1et_f1re wrote:
I trust you have not graduated to victim or the crime. Even Jerry said the chords are all intuitively wrong on that one (paraphrased, so chords may not be the proper word)


it's just a song with dissonant sections. it naturally sounds strange. our minds feel tension from dissonance. we are waiting for some relief something harmonious. it's actually genius.



Jerry Garcia, interviewed by Bonnie Simmons 9/28/89 for a "Built to Last"
promotional disc:


JG: I think the first time Weir showed it ["Victim or the Crime"] to me was
when we played with Joan Baez at an AIDS thing in the city, and he -- I lis-
tened in amazement and said "God, that's got pretty angular changes, doesn't
it?" It's fascinating because it defies, almost, any effort to play freely
through it. You have to know it; it's that simple. It has changes in it,
and they're very strict, and they have lots of real dissonant moments. So
the angularity of it was fascinating to me, the tonality was, because it's
one of those things where you really have to stretch to figure out something
appropriate to play to add to the tonal mood of the tune.

The text of it -- I don't believe I've ever actually listened to all the
words to it. Ever. I have the gist of it; by now I probably could recite
it if I really had to, but the text of it is more of the same in a way, it
doesn't have a whole lot of light in it. It's very dense, and it's
angstridden to boot. So it seemed to me when we were starting to record it,
in order to save it from an effort to make it more attractive, I thought
that what would work with the song would be to just go with it, to go with
the angularity and the sort of asymmetrical way it's structured, and play to
expose that. An early possibility that occurred to me was that this would
be an interesting song to do something really strange with. And this is
where of course Mickey comes into the picture, 'cause he's one of the guys
that holds down the strangeness corner and he's always a willing accomplice
in these ideas. So I thought the Beam, which is an instrument that people
feel about about the way they feel about Victim or the Crime, the tune -- I
thought, let's take two of the things that really have a huge potential for
really upsetting people --

BS: A polarization tool.

JG: Absolutely -- and let's combine them in a happy marriage, something
that will be a real horror show. And it's turned out to be strangely
beautiful. I really enjoy it, now. When me and Mickey started working on
it, I'd be sitting there listening and say "You know, I may be going crazy,
but I'm starting to like this..."

BS: I am too. Initially I thought it was one of the oddest things I had
ever imagined.

JG: Well, it certainly is strange. It's one of Weir's stunningly odd com-
positions, but it's also very adventurous. It's uncompromising; it's what
it is, and the challenge of coming up with stuff to play that sounds intel-
ligent in the context has been incredible, but also appropriately gnarly. I
really wanted that part of it to work. I think we did a nice job on the
record with it. It works. Whatever it is, it works. I'm real happy with
it because it was one of those things that was like, "What are we going to
do with this?" It's like having a monster brother that you lock in the at-
tic. It's like a relative that you -- "God, I hope nobody comes over when
he's eating...." But that's one of the things that makes the Grateful Dead
fun.

We've got a handle on it, I think, now, and there's also places for us to
take it. I think it may open up into something truly monstrous. It may
turn into something truly monstrous in the future, and certainly the re-
corded version works.
who else is gonna bring you, a broken arrow?
Last Edit: 2 years, 9 months ago by wlewis.
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Fargone Daydream
Fresh Boarder
Posts:5

Re: Bobby's Chord Voicings

#113599 2 years, 9 months ago
Another key Bobby voicing is a very full e chord played only by holding the a string on the 7th fret, d string on the 6th fret and the g string on the 9th fret. It has a nice tonal quality, and he uses it in many songs. If you slide the from the 9th fret to the 8th fret on the g string, you have the first two chords in Stella Blue, with just the move of one finger. The second variation above is also used in Eyes of the World. Of course, this formation can move up or down the neck.

I have always played the Bobby parts in the bands I played in back in the day. When I was younger, I tended to play the late 80's vintage, because those were the shows I went to at the time and it was more of what I knew at the time. Now, I am totally digging '71-'74 vintage Bobby have been working more at understanding his approach during this era since I mostly play for a hobby these days. I had put the guitar down for about 10 years in between (job, wife, kids, etc). I find that the time away has allowed me to play with more perspective now.

Beware, if you learn to play guitar the Weir way, when you play with others who don't "get" the GD, they think I am the most unconventional player. Its fun to mess with them....
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