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Blues shuffle - I need advice

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by tonynoriega, Nov 13, 2005.

  1. tonynoriega

    tonynoriega Supporting Member

    Jun 26, 2004
    Tampa, Florida
    Hi Guys:

    I'm a 20-year player and have played different genres, including a little bit of blues. But now I'm joining a band that does blues exclusively, and as I'm now working on a Johnny Lang song named Matchbox, I'm not sure just how the shuffle thing works.....is it entirely on the drummer to play behind the implied beat, and for the bass to play normally, or do the drums AND bass adjust to the different beat? Thanks for your anticipated advice. Tony Noriega, Tampa
  2. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    There's as many different answers to that question as there are drummers and bassists. Personally, I like a shuffle where the bass holds the beat and the drummer plays behind it. Other times I like to have a contest with the drummer to see who can play the most behind the beat without slowing the song down.
  3. cdef


    Jul 18, 2003
    With shuffle, syncopated triplets are implied. Both the drummer and the bass player should be aware of this, and should develop a common sensitivity as to how the shuffle works. Tommy Shannon is a great bass player in the genre, so listen to how he does it.

    In early rock'n'roll you can often hear a shuffle beat superimposed on a straight 2x4. It's a weird-sounding combination these days, but it's the key to a certain kind of swing that you cannot get any other way. Earl Palmer used to be the master drummer for that.
  4. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Danny and the Juniors are like that, too. On "At The Hop" and "Rock And Roll Is Here To Stay," everyone else in the band is playing straight 4/4 except the drummer, who swings it. There's a lot of Huey Piano Smith stuff like that, too. Wouldn't surprise me if Earl Palmer played on that stuff, too. I know he played with him.

    Don't know how much that will help you with a blues band, though. Get yourself a Muddy Waters album, an Albert Collins album, and a John Lee Hooker album. That's a good way to start learning how to play with the drums on different shuffles.
  5. AGCurry


    Jun 29, 2005
    Kansas City
    Might I add - early B.B. King, with Sonny Freeman on drums. What a great drummer!
  6. ctxbass

    ctxbass Supporting Member

    Nov 6, 2003
    Central Texas
    The bass and drums should lock in on one hell of a groove.

    A good way to get started on a shuffle in an unfamiliar situation is to always come back to a straight quarter note on beat 1 of the bar. This helps to keep the groove established while you find what works with a particular drummer. Blues is all feel. Play each note like you really mean it.

    My favorite shuffle is on top of the downbeat and behind the backbeat, but the drummer has to do it too.
  7. ctxbass

    ctxbass Supporting Member

    Nov 6, 2003
    Central Texas
    That's what I'm talkin' about!
  8. Growler


    Sep 26, 2004
    Check out Albert King's Laundromat blues...