The Right Hand

Freddy King: The Classic Instrumentals (Volume 1) Introduction & Learning Resources
7 minutes
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Before we get started into Freddie kings instrumentals, I want to explain a little bit about his right hand technique. Freddie King had a very different kind of right hand technique compared to the other Westside guitar players other Chicago Westside guitar players like Otis rush and magic Sam. And he used a thumb pick a plastic thumb pick on his thumb, of course, and a metal finger pick, I don't have any metal finger picks, I use these plastic ones. They're called Alaska picks, and you can buy them and they fit right over your fingernail, which is kind of nice. When I play Freddie King stuff, I don't use the finger and thumb, the thumb and the finger pick. I've never tried this.

I do this with acoustic guitar, not with electric. But anyway, what this allow him to do. Turn my volume down a little bit. So go a little more. A little More percussive attack here, it allowed him to use his finger. And if you watch the videos of Freddie King, a lot of the stuff he does like in the key of C, he's gonna be using that first finger.

And it looks to me if you watch the videos from the TV show the beat, he's using that first finger for most everything. And that's the metal pick and that's what gives his sound kind of that biting, almost metallic tone. And then the thumb when he does licks like this, which is a lick over the he the first position he, I'm going to hammer on to the first string of the first fret third string of the third fret, and he uses the thumb for that and it comes right back up with the first finger. Also, sometimes when he does the bass licks like sounds to me like you might be using the thumb to be honest With you, I have no idea. If I listen to Freddie King stuff, I can't tell where he's using the thumb pick where she's in the finger pick. There are places when he does some of these.

That is an E lick, which is definitely the thumb and the first finger working together. Some of these licks he does like and see. That sounds like he's maybe doing that first leg or something like this. Maybe he's doing the first couple notes with the thumb with the first finger. Again, I do not know, but that's what Freddie King did. And if you want to play exactly like Freddie King did, that's what you're gonna have to have to work on.

Now, he also did these pinches, and we're going to get into songs like sad Night Owl and hideaway where he pinches these double stuff. So for instance, in set night owl, he does a leg when he gets to the five he plays it like this. And those he's definitely pinching one string, in this case, the fifth string with his thumb pick, and the third string with his finger his finger like this. That entire song is played with those pinches, and that's the thumb and the finger pick working together. So again, if you want to get into this, from the video I've seen, he looks like he uses the first finger for most everything and then the thumb pick when he needs it, or as he needs it, certain licks, definitely he's using it. Now what I do instead is the way I play electric guitar is I don't use the picks the thumb and the finger pick.

Instead I just use a flat pick. And when I need to pinch, what I'm going to do is have the pick in my left hand or my right hand thumb and first finger and then I'm going to use my middle finger. My second thing as my pinch, so If I'm going to pinch I'm actually using that finger I'm getting the nail in there and trying to dig into it as much as I can without getting stuck on it. And when it does these descendants double stop pinches like an hideaway. Again, I'm just pinching with the pick between my thumb and first finger and that second finger doing the work. I don't have to do that too often.

Now there are places like when he does the E lick, where sometimes I'll throw in that first finger pick the third string with the with the picker. And then maybe pull up with the first finger but you get such a different tone if you don't have the pick also on your finger. But once again to review this whole thing, you can play Freddie King stuff without using the thumb and the finger pick. But if you want to get his sound exactly Play, and play the things with the same field that he did that that's the way to go. And to practice this video series, I don't show the right hand match. I'm sorry, it's too much camera work for me and I do these by myself.

But I will explain this that, you know, as you go through this you're going to be you can do this with the thumb and the finger pick or you can just use a flat pick and then use your second finger for the pitches. Hope this helps you my advice, maybe watch some of the videos of Freddie king that are out there on YouTube and study this a little more. If you want to try to do it the way he did. Otherwise, you know, do it the way I do or come up with your own way to do it. Let's move on. There's one more idea involving the right hand that's an important part of Freddie King sound and that is right hand palm muting.

And that's a simple technique. If you've never heard of this before, where when we pick a note, I'm going to rest this part of my palm on my right hand on the strings. As I picked them so let's say we're playing in the key of C, I could play something like this. With the palm mute, it sounds like this. hear the difference, and you'll hear Freddie King do these scrapes where he's stroking up with this first finger on the eighth fret first, second and third strings. This is in the key of C, songs like San Jose, and also butterscotch, he does this a couple different times.

And if you get move on to some of his other instrumental he'll hear him using that. What I call rake, when he's kind of scraping raking the strings up. You'll also hear I'm playing individual notes that are muted. When we get to San Jose, you'll hear that and all I'm doing is putting that right hand palm on the strings very gently, right above the bridge. Here's the bridge. So I'm putting it on the strange right in this area.

Depends on you and how you hold the guitar and how you hold your pick. This is something like vibrato that you just have to play around with and experiment with until you can control the sound and get it to be the way you want it to sound the way you want it to. So listen to the Freddie King stuff. And when I talk about right hand palm muting, that's what I mean studying the right hand on the string and then picking them scraping them, raking them, whatever it is that we're going to do.

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