Play Guitar Like Robben Ford

In this lesson, we are checking out three guitar licks in the style of the jazz-blues superstar, Robben Ford. Ford’s use of sophisticated  Jazz lines and soulful earthy blues licks, combine to make him a real hero to many guitarists. Today we look at a three-chord jazzy-blues vamp, the Robben Ford Pentatonic scale, and a clever jazz lick. If you are looking at adding some depth and new elements to your underlying blues licks, this lesson is for you!

Robben Ford Guitar Example 1 – Jazz Chords

This three-chord vamp uses the chords of Dm9, Bb7 and A7#5. Apply a gentle funky strumming pattern and get used to the switch between the Dm9 and the Bb7. We often associated jazz with huge chord progressions with thousands of variations, but this simple one proves you can sound smart in your playing with very little effort.

Robben Ford Guitar Example 2 – Minor 6th Pentatonic Positions 1 and 4

Robben Ford has his own pentatonic scale. That scale is either referred to as the “Robben Ford Pentatonic” or “The Minor 6th Pentatonic.” Either way it is only one note different from your normal pentatonic. All you have to do is lower your minor 7th (b7th), down one fret to create the natural 6th. This gives it a very modern flavour.

Robben Ford Guitar Example 2 – Minor 6th Pentatonic Lick

Now that you have learnt your minor 6th Pentatonic scale in two positions it’s time to put it into practice. This lick combines both the ‘E’ and ‘A’ shapes and sounds both bluesy and jazzy.

Robben Ford Example 3 – Jazzy Arpeggio line

I love to steal other players’ ideas and try to incorporate them into my own playing. This Dm arpeggio line sounds incredibly complicated but really it  is just a standard minor pentatonic scale played in three-note groups. Lots of fusion players like this idea, especially Frank Gambale. Then we have an ‘A Altered’ lick. This lick is where Ford’s bluesy playing becomes jazzy. This lick works great over any A altered chord.

Recommended listening

For classic Robben Ford style guitar licks, I recommend buying the album “Talk To Your Daughter.” My favourite track on that album being “Talk To Your Daughter.”

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