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Play Guitar Like Chuck Berry

In this lesson, we are checking out three guitar licks in the style of the iconic blues guitar star, Chuck Berry. Berry’s style, although often simplistic, has been copied by almost every guitar player throughout the last sixty years. Chuck heavily relied on double-stops and staccato bends, today’s lesson will show you how to adapt an ‘A7’ chord vamp, how to move a Chuck Berry style double stop lick through a twelve-bar blues progression and a classic lick in the style of the great man!

Chuck Berry Guitar Example 1 – Chord

Chuck Berry favoured dominant chord progressions. I have taken a bit of artistic license here and created a simple ‘A7’ vamp, which you can move into different keys. Although not strictly a ‘Chuck’ style rhythm pattern it does provide a great backing for the licks that follow in example two and three. Try moving this lick into the keys of ‘D’ and ‘E’ to complete your twelve-bar blues cycle.

Chuck Berry Guitar Example 2 – Technique

Berry extensively used double-stops in his soloing. They create a stronger more forceful sound than their single note equivalents. This progression is a twelve-bar blues in the key of ‘A’. The chords of ‘A,’ ‘D,’ and ‘E,’ are what this pattern follows. I find this a fantastic way to maximise value from any lick. Getting this lick clean is harder than it may look. Aim for clarity when you move the double-stops through different strings.

Chuck Berry Guitar Example 3 – Guitar Lick

Chuck Berry was a huge fan of the bending lick shown here in bar one. This lick alone has been emulated by almost all modern rock guitarists. Angus Young is also a big fan of using this lick. The dot above specific notes here indicates a staccato note. This means clip the note, don’t let it ring out. Again double-stops are the main theme here, highlighting the underlying chord of ‘A7’.

Recommended listening

For classic Chuck Berry style guitar licks, I recommend buying the album “The Best Of Chuck Berry” My favourite track on that album being “Roll Over Beethoven.”

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Guitar Lesson Video Transcription

Hey YouTube, Simon here once again for the awesome Fundamental Changes. Today we’re looking at Chuck Berry, and some of his styles and techniques. Let’s have a look at some of those just after this.

[guitar playing]

Example 1 here today, I’ve taken a little bit of artistic license. It isn’t hugely Chuck Berry’s, but it is something that you can lay down as a backing track for the licks that come next.

We’ve got an A7 in the D7 shape, top 4 strings, 7-9-8-9, and then a little lick that revolves around the E7 shape of the A7, so that’s your 5th fret minus the little finger. Make sure you try learning this in A, moving it up to D7 and E7 for your backing for this 12 bar blues, that’s a really fun one for your blues progression to do.

[guitar playing]

Chuck Berry loves double stops in 2-note chords. Example 2 here today is just using a classic Chuck Berry lick, and moving it through A, D and E in a 12-bar blues pattern. This is highly effective, fun one to play to your friends.

We start off in A. As I said, this little double stop riff, with this little hammer-on 5th to the 6th fret of the 3rd string, but you’re playing 2nd string as well. That’ll take a little bit of practice to get this neat. He often favors down picking all of this, so when you’re going through this, using just down picks throughout this progression.

Moving out through the 10th fret for the D, and then moving it through the progression, 12th fret for the E there as well. Take your time, aim for the clarity of the movement between the strings, and you’ll notice on the very end,you know, we get a little lick that ends on the note of E, which is where it would go to that chord at the very end of the progression, a fun one to play over any12 bar dominant 7th blues.

[guitar playing]

Bar 1 of our example here uses the classic Chuck Berry bend. This is just stereotypical of what he does. What you want to do is do your normal bend at the 7th fret, and you’re going to do a staccato note on the top strings 5 and 5. If you don’t know what staccato means, it’s clipping the strings. You don’t want to let it ring, you want to just go [pluck].

Take your fingers off gently as you play the note. That gives that real Chuck Berry feel. The 2nd part, once again using lots of double stops all around the chord of A7, quite fun little run this, sort of country, bluesy, rock and roll type stuff going on here, really, really fun.

I really hope you get something from these. If you’ve got any comments, questions, or anything to add, just build the community about what you guys want to see, and I’ll see you next time for more videos. Take care.

Hi everyone, thanks for watching this in the style of Chuck Berry for Fundamental Changes. As I always say, and you’re used to it now, go and check out Joseph’s website Fundamental Changes, check out his amazing books on Amazon that’ll revolutionize your playing, and check out my channel, SDPguitar, for more licks and tricks too. See you next time.