In this post I’m going to write about an ornament that Tommy uses quiet often, especially in his soulful ballads. To be able to learn it you should have prior experience with barre, slides and hammer-ons. Without further ado let’s take a look at our little bugger:
So here it is. Notice the pinky doing it’s dance at around 51 s into the clip. What is actually happening there is a consecutive hammer-on, slide up and then slide down. Let’s take a closer look and try to refine the pinky move. By the way, Tommy’s guitar is tuned down a whole tone so he starts with barre on 7th fret. We’ll start with barre on the 5th to sound like him.
Here our main note is the B on the 7th fret. It means that we could simplify all those hammer-ons and slides to just this one note. We start with the 5th fret and hammer-on the 7th with our pinky. Now we rapidly slide our pinky to the next fret and return to the 7th. I noted an accent on the final 7th note as it is most important in this lick and it should be well spelled (even if it’s just slided).
The hammer-on is pretty straightforward. The slide on the other hand might be a little tricky. First of all I don’t recommend using your whole hand movement to achieve it even if that is the initial temptation. It should be performed with muscles that distance your pinky from your 3rd finger. To locate those muscles lay your left hand on a table palm down with fingers slightly bent (there should be some air between your hand and the surface). Than try to move your pinky left (away from the rest of the fingers) with as little overall hand movement as possible. If you understand the correct movement you can isolate just the slide part and practice it while holding the 5th fret barre like that:
There are two key aspects of successful execution of this double slide. First of all muscles of your metacarpus (the main part of your hand) should be relaxed. It will ensure effortless sideways movement of your pinky. The pressure that you put on the string with your pinky should also be as tiny as possible. The less pressure – the less friction while sliding. Once the sliding part is no more a problem for you, try to add the initial hammer-on (5th to 7th fret).
Here are some modifications of this pattern that I stumbled upon the way (I’ll use our initial example as a base)
So this is a basic concept. Try doing it with different chords (open CAGED chords work very well for this). The other thing you could try is reversing the slides direction (as in making your main note the 8th fret and doing slide to 7th and back to 8th. Do you have any other ideas for this pattern? As for some homework for you, check Tommy’s Stay close to me and Angelina videos and try to spot patterns similar to what we’ve been discussing here.