1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  

Question about Sweet Home Chicago and blues stanrdards in E

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Tombolino, Feb 21, 2013.

  1. Tombolino


    Dec 28, 2012
    Hey friends,

    As a newb, Im learning a bunch of blues tunes, several of them from the Ed Friedland blues book. Wondering about songs that in the book are in E...like Sweet Home Chicago....is it usually played in E?

    Some E songs Im willing to figure out in other keys...but some like Sweet Home Chicago I prefer to be practical and ask here....:)

    Thank you.
  2. Not sure why you are asking this........ may be building the clock instead of just telling you the time.

    I asked Google to pull up some chord progressions on Sweet Home Chicago, and yes E looks like that is the key that song would have been published in. http://www.mikemusicbox.com/tabs/sweethomechicago-ec.html

    The key a song will be sung in depends on the vocalist. The key of E is normally requested by male vocalists with deep bass voices. I prefer to sing in D, others may like G. Female vocalists like the key of A. We all sing well in several of the keys (more than just one), and then there will be several keys we will have trouble hitting the highs and lows, so what key a song is going to be played in really depends on the vocalist that will be singing the song.

    We do a lot of Johnny Cash songs, When pulling up fake chord on Johnny's songs they may be in E, as that is a key Johnny liked. Our male vocalist likes to sing in G and D so we transpose them to what he wants to sing in.

    So to answer your question. Yes E looks good for that song. But, first time you play it out in public the vocalist may ask for it to be played in another key. Guitar guys grab a capo and adjust...... What will you do? Now that may be what you were getting at and if so we can help with that.
  3. Tombolino


    Dec 28, 2012
    Hi Malcolm, great answer thank you.

    Many of these songs I have encountered in the key of E uses open string fingreings which means as far as I know that if I wanna be prepared for other keys, I need to fig out the fingering without the use of open strings which will be different. Am I making sense? Any tips on this? Thank you. :)
  4. FunkHead

    FunkHead Supporting Member

    Mar 10, 2007
    You could always tune down 1/2 step to learn the songs in E. Then you'd be playing in the first position. That way it would be the same pattern all over the neck except when you're back to open strings. After a short while you'll see the open strings just like anywhere else on the neck. A lot of Stevie songs are in Eb. Stevie Ray Vaughn, Stevie Wonder. Sometimes I practice a bunch of Eb songs and just leave my bass "Detuned" 1/2 step.
  5. Tombolino


    Dec 28, 2012
    Thanks. For now, to me, open string patterns look visually significantly different than non open....:(
  6. Just hit me that Ed probably has the songs in the book in several keys - so you learn how to play in different keys.

    So we can help. What's the problem?
  7. FunkHead

    FunkHead Supporting Member

    Mar 10, 2007
    You could always play them 1 octave higher in the same Key. Sometimes it's easier to learn songs that way.
  8. For E the only open string you have to use is the E- you can stop all the rest of them by playing with your middle finger on the 5th fret, grab the high E with your pinkie on the 7th fret A string, III with your index on the E string, V with your pinkie on the E string, VII with your middle finger on the A string. That way what you learn will be pretty portable to other keys.
  9. Tombolino


    Dec 28, 2012
    Thank you gents, I think the key takeaway here is to learn how to play enough songs in open and closed positions? :)

    By the way, the Ed book doesnt really have open strings position A examples. Do you guys play much tunes from the A open strings position?
  10. packhowitzer

    packhowitzer 155mm of pure destruction

    Apr 20, 2011
    this might be slightly off topic, but if i am given the choice, i'd rather play a song in G or higher rather than in E. What i mean by that is, if it's in G, I have a few more options for fills (walking up to the root and that sort of thing). just a small quibble and i'll gladly play a song in E, but I just really like having the option of playing fills that move up to the root (and i don't have a 5 string).
  11. In the key of E the difference in fingering positions can be as little as 2 notes. Obviously the open E, then the F#. After that everything can be played at the 5th fret position with no open strings.

    On a 4 string bass it's good to learn to play below the high root note. Sticking with blues in the key of E, use the root E at the A string 7th fret and then play your walking pattern below that. So E then G#, B, C#, D for example. Once you have that, it's easy to substitute the low open E for the root. The rest of the pattern can stay the same.

    I recommend getting comfortable with this position with the 2 extra low notes rather than de tuning your bass. Blues bassists don't generally tune down. Notable exceptions would be Double Trouble bassist Tommy Shannon who tuned down because Stevie Ray always tuned down and played everything in Eb standard tuning, and Johnny Gayden who kept a de-tuned four string on hand for Albert Collins' capoed tunes in D.

    Of course, like many blues bassists (inc. Johnny Gayden), you could move to a 5 string so you could play in any key without having to use many open strings at all.
  12. trothwell


    Apr 9, 2008
    For "Sweet Home Chicago" and other standard blues tunes, you may ultimately find it more beneficial to learn the chord progression patterns in general rather than a specific key, so that it's easy to play in any key.

    You might try practicing along with the Jamey Aebersold book/CD "Blues in All Keys": http://www.amazon.com/Vol-Blues-All-Keys-Book/dp/B0002HLLCC
  13. wrench45us


    Aug 26, 2011

    detuning not a good long term strategy

    5 string -- never a need for an open string (unless you need that low B)
    but you haveto ignore any tab in instruction books and work up the neck
    but you already have a 4 string so angryclown's got your guidance
  14. Tombolino


    Dec 28, 2012
    @trothwell. Sounds interesting but not following what you mean....:)
  15. I do not use open string positions, reason, it's a little hard for me to reach those frets. I play closed -- G @ the 3rd fret, A @ the 5th, C @ the 8th, etc. I also prefer root on the E string. I'll play F @ the 3rd string 8th fret, but, like to stay rooted on the E string.

    Trust where Ed is taking you, he knows his stuff.
  16. Gravy4001


    Jan 9, 2012
    Well, it's blues so just learn the pattern and then you can apply it in any key, anywhere on the fretboard. The only snag will be in key of E where you'll have to deal with the open string but practice and you'll get it quickly. Then you can sleep easy at night knowing that whatever key they call you can do it. Knowing your way around the fretboard is also good in general so if you intend to keep playing then it's certainly not a waste of your time.
  17. Tombolino


    Dec 28, 2012
    Thank you. Regarding being able to play tunes in other keys....some songs the pattern is cake to transpose but other lines/songs have more stuff, fills, jumps, etc l..now...if i sat and practiced such songs in mutliple keys....thats the only way to being multi key ready? I suppose my concern is spending too much time on one song vs learning more songs. Im a former guitat player so i am know that right now i need to build repertoire....your thoughts ?
  18. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    You don't need to learn each and every song in all 12 keys.... you only need to learn the 12 major scales. Then you can play any song in any key. That's how I think of it, anyways. :)
  19. IMO -- First thing is to get your fundamentals down, how to run a scale, then how to make melody phrases from that scale or how to play chord tones from that scale and then how to build a bass line. All that basic stuff you must learn.

    Then how to use it in songs. What do you do when you play rhythm guitar? Do the same here. Rhythm guitar and bass guitar are different, sure, but both are in the rhythm section. What you do on Rhythm guitar will transfer.

    Yes we need to play a lot of songs, question is which songs. Answer - the ones we will use this week. I play in two bands, one of which is Country and we have been playing the same ole songs over and over for so long it's not necessary that I practice those. They are on auto pilot. Give me the name and the key and away we go.

    Now the other is Praise. Six new songs each week. So yes I have to work on those - we get the songs Wednesday night and play them Sunday. Here is what I do - for what that is worth.

    I'll be playing from a music stand. So I get the fake chord sheet music we are given into something I can read. I do not need to know the chord is a D2 or a Csus or even a G/A, I'll play a D, C and A so out comes the "White Out" and I get the sheet music so I can read what I'm supposed to do. It is amazing how White Out clears out all the gooble goop and leaves me with just what I do. I then take the fake chord to a print shop and have it enlarged to 11X17 inch size - 78 year old eyes - my point - do what ever you need to do to get the sheet music to where you can read it and play from it. This normally means notes in the margins to direct me to a bridge, or back to the chorus, what ever it takes to navigate through the sheet music. And yes some of the fake chord has so many chord scratch through that it's best to just re-type and start over.

    OK now I play by rote what is on the sheet music. All that scale and chord tone stuff, how to hold the beast, how to get sound from it, etc. is hopefully filed away in my subconscious and I can now concentrate on the sheet music for this specific song. All those fills etc. if you are going to play them, put them on the sheet music. When you start getting paid the big bucks you will have to leave your music stand at home, but, until then let it help you.

    Play from some kind of sheet music, I use fake chord as that is what both bands pass among themselves. If you like standard notation, tab, Nashville numbers - whatever - have at it, but right now let the sheet music help you.

    OK now that I have the sheet music where I can read it and follow along with what I'm supposed to be doing I then call up a video on the song - from the Internet - and play-a-long with it. That's how I practice , first few times through the song I just concentrate on the chord progression and being able to move between all the chord changes. Next I want to be able to hit the chord changes as they come up in the song, not before, not after, dead on. For this I play-a-long with the Internet video and follow the lyrics being sung.

    Few words on following the chords and hitting the chord changes dead on. That is what the director wants, so that is what I do. If that is not important then relax and wing it.

    May not be right for you, but, it works for me,
    As always, have fun.
  20. bassfuser


    Jul 16, 2008
    A lot of times the open strings are used as passing tones. You can play a muted note in place of the open string and still get the same effect. You will need to hit a higher register Eb if the key is in Eb, but that's also the case with the key of E. Look at "Pride and Joy" in Ed's book. The open E is used extensively as a passing tone.

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.