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Back Door Man: Introduction & Gear


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Back Door Man

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Whats up people! This is Henrik for Guitar Tricks and today we're going to learn how to play the old blues jam "Back Door Man", as made famous by Willie Dixon. We're be taking a look at two guitars today and we're going to focus on sitting in the groove and just nailing the sweet spot of the pocket. Guitar 1 is going to play a funky little phrase during the verses and choruses and a sweet blues solo with some really interesting licks and rhythms. Guitar 2 is going to be a guitar tuned to open G and we're going to outline the progression with a slide. This guitar is really setting the tone and the vibe of the song, especially combined with the more rhythmic elements of guitar 1.

Keep in mind that this song is more of a one chord jam with some turnarounds rather than your typical blues or pop format song. In a song like this that has a lot of the same phrases, what is changing is the vocals and lyrics - so it helps to keep an ear out for what the vocalist is singing. We're in a 4/4 time signature at a tempo of 110 bpm, in the key of G.

As for gear and tones, we're looking at some true old school electric blues tones for this song. Guitar 1 is pretty clean but you want it to break up just a little bit when you hit the strings a bit harder. You want to go for an old tube amp type of sound; I've dialed-in the settings with the bass around 4, the mids around 8, and the treble is around 6.5. You also want to add just a touch of spring reverb to guitar 1, nothing crazy at all just a little wetness at the end of the notes. I'm playing a Telecaster for guitar 1 and I'll be on the neck position pickup for most of the song, but for the second part of the solo I'll switch to the bridge pickup. When we go back to rhythm playing I'll switch back to the neck pickup. It's interesting to note that I have some pretty old strings on this guitar because new strings just sounded too bright and fancy.

Guitar 2 is going to be a Danelectro guitar and I'll be on the neck pick up for the whole song. But we're dialing in a bit different tone on this guitar. Here you want a bit more brightness so that the slide cuts through the rest of the instruments, obviously not shrill and screaming but a bit more treble. I've set the mids to 6, the bass is at around 3, and the treble is between 7 and 8. If your amp has a bright switch or presence knob, tweak it till you feel like it's close to the tone I'm using here today. And you also want to add just a tiny bit of reverb to this guitar as well, just so it's not dry and and right up front in the mix - it needs to cut through but not overshadow the rest of the instruments.