Dispelling hundreds of years of myths and conjectures, it wasn’t until 1996 that DNA testing determined that the world-renown Cabernet Sauvignon wine was the offspring of a natural cross-pollination between the Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc grape vine dating back to the 17th century. Naturally, wine aficionados would agree that cross-pollination is a good thing.
Guitar players would likewise agree that cross-pollination is a good thing when it comes to blending techniques and creative approaches from a variety of styles, and no one does it better than Carl Verheyen. That’s why he gets all the big sessions and monster gigs. That’s also why we asked Carl to share his special weapons and tactics for crafting compelling, interesting and fresh rhythm guitar parts.
True to Verheyen form, this nine-section SWAT Rhythm Guitar curriculum over-delivers fretboard wisdom for virtually any style of rhythm guitar.
SECTION 1: Rhythm Tips
In this first section, Carl presents four key concepts: The Drummers Heartbeat, Energy Concentration, Shuffle Types and Less Is More. Key learnings here include the importance of underplaying, how to identify and locate the pocket, how to establish the groove with drummers and why distinguishing various shuffle feels and regional grooves is as important as knowing your chord forms.
SECTION 2: Pop Progression
Five key concepts covered here in the second section: Hendrix Mayfield Style, Modern Chord Voicings, Dotted 8th & 16th Arps, The Verheyen 6th Lick and Combining Techniques. Carl demonstrates a variety of different rhythm approaches over the same progression to illustrate how important it is to have a deep bag of concepts to pull from. You’ll also learn how to apply a Hendrix/Mayfield approach to your rhythm parts. Carl also passes on several very useful (and very sweet sounding) modern chord voicings, the dotted delay eighth-note effect, and his signature 6th lick just to ice the cake on this section.
SECTION 3: Blues Progression
Carl dedicated a full section to playing the blues with a wide variety of fresh rhythm techniques and approaches: The 13 to 9 Lick, A Country Approach, Cropper Style Sliding 4ths, Gospel Style Piano Voicings, Swamp Licks and Combining Techniques. Using the changes to Key To The Highway, Carl demonstrates his must-know 13th to 9th rhythm lick, a few chicken pickin’ applications, how to cross-pollinate styles, Steve Cropper-inspired moves, sliding 4ths all over the neck, distinctive piano voicings, gospel styling and the section would not be complete without Carl’s infamous Swamp licks.
SECTION 4: Funk Progressions
Funk rhythm are pervasive in so many styles of contemporary music and Carl gets you squarely in the funk game with this section and its key learnings; Inventive Chord Fragments, Skank Licks, Harmonic Freedom and Combining Techniques. Comping on chord funk progressions is all about syncopation and accents, which Carl divides into two approaches; Static and Inventive. Borrowed from jazz guitar harmonic material, Carl passes on several chord fragments from his own funk vocabulary along with his Skank Style technique where all 6 strings are struck at once, but only one note is sounded.
SECTION 5: Rock Progression
Modal Chords, Modern Rock Voicings and Modern Power Chords are all central focuses of this section. Instead of showing you all of the rock and heavy metal vocabulary you likely already know, Carl stocks your arsenal with many new ideas; Using modal chords to add harmonic and melodic interest to any single chord, how to dispense with various chord tones to come up with other types of chord forms, combining modal and modern chord forms and a very fresh approach for playing power chords.
SECTION 6: Playing With Keyboards
Tritones and Tritones with Chord Fragments are key to complimenting and not crowding or stepping on the toes of a keyboard player. Carl dedicates this section to various voicings and approaches for keeping your rhythm guitar parts distinctive from the keyboard parts (and staying friendly with those keyboardists!).
SECTION 7: Latin Progression
You might not play LAtin music gigs, but you will frequently encounter Latin-spiced music across rock, pop, blues and jazz. Carl delivers an insightful collection of concepts and approaches for complimenting those situations two key learnings; Latin Chord Voicings and Samba with Bass Lines.
SECTION 8: Riff Based Parts
Open Strings, Harmonics and Bends are showcased in this section along with the inner-workings of Carl’s tune, Chinatown (players have been asking for the scoop on this tune for years!). Carl demonstrates how to play the intricate riff and also explains how he came up with it. Chinatown is a fairly involved riff but using open strings you’re able to cover a lot of ground on the neck and extend the range for the figure.
SECTION 9: Solo Rhythm Guitar
In this final section, Carl addresses playing solo electric guitar where you play bass notes as well as melody, rhythms and riffs all rolled into one performance. Three key approaches for solo electric are presented in From The Church, Back Porch Blues and No Walkin’ Blues. You’ll work through these three blues-influenced solo pieces to get a grip on the techniques, chord vocabulary and creative approaches for performing solo on electric guitar.
Carl demonstrates all of the key concepts over rhythm tracks for real-world musical context, and then breaks down the techniques and approach in a clear and very accessible manner. All of the performance examples are tabbed and notated, plus all of the rhythm tracks are included to work with on your own.
These are indeed “special weapons and tactics” and as such some of the material will be challenging to master and so prepare to put the time in shedding those particular techniques and approaches. On the other hand, there’s plenty of tips and techniques that you will grasp instantly and take to the bandstand immediately.