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Skip James playing style


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Howdy doo,


Has anybody here ever studied Skips playing style? What tuning did he mainly use? I THINK its open Dm?? I've jsut sat down and had a good listen to Cypress Grove... Bloody fantastic song!! Any pointers would be greatly appreciated.. Basically all im looking for is any hints and tips on tunings and specific little mannarisms that he used frequently.. Then hopefully I can work the rest out :D


But of course if anybody has a tab I would love to see it :)


Thanks Guys

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Great vids!


I've just read some references to James style in a book on John Lee Hooker.

I will be back to confirm this but I think his most regular tuning was a minor chord , either D or E, voiced [1-5-1-b3-5-1].


Supposedly at chordmelody.com there's a book on his playing but I couldn't find it.


At ultimate-guitar.com there are some tabs offered (veracity unknown).



http://thebluehighway.com/skip.html comes this telling fragment (emphasis added):


Another paranoia which affected James' work was his mistrust of other blues musicians, who he once referred to as a "barrel of crabs," pulling anyone who reached the top of the barrel back down, rather than let him get free to achieve success without them. When other bluesmen watched James perform, he would alter his playing style to keep the secrets of his unique sound concealed from their eyes (40), and this may have resulted in the speed and frenetic quality of some of his pieces, such as the lightning-fast "I'm So Glad" and the jagged "22-20 Blues." He was never forthcoming with information about other musicians, and when he did speak of them, he seldom had a kind word to say, instead using the opportunity to praise himself at their expense. James also felt contempt for fans of the "folk movement" who attended his late-period performances. As previously stated, James hoped his music would "deaden the minds" of his listeners, and this is reflected in the pitch-dark feel of his best tunes, a combination of vocals and music so oppressively sad that once during the Depression, James was paid by several people on a public street to stop playing, because he was depressing them even more than the Depression already had...

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Yes, most of his stuff was played in "Cross tuning," which was Open D or E minor. In D, low to high, it's DADFAD.


He usually used a slide, with lots of fretting as well, but in some of those later shows he didn't use the slide. He hadn't played in about 30 years and had to relearn his own songs.

"A cheerful heart is good medicine."
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