How to play the Muddy Waters riff on slide guitar

What’s up, ladies and gentlemen Tyler Preston here back coming at you with another lesson. Today. We’re going to be talking about the Muddy Waters riff. It’s really classical Blues old blues riff and it’s played with slide guitar and I just wanted to do a quick lesson today to break down how to play it for you because it’s a really classic sound that I think a lot of guitar players would love to be able to make so let’s get into it for starters. My guitar is tuned in open G.

Tuning. Okay. Now the other day we were playing in open D and open D is where you tune the guitar to an open D chord open G is where you tune the guitar to an open G chord, here’s the difference when we play open D. We are playing a chord where the root of the chord is the low E string and we’re tuning it to the the tone D when we play open G. We’re actually setting it up. So the route the the center route.

Of the whole guitar is the low a string. Okay, we’re going to tune the a string down a step to G and what that means is that strings a through the high e are our major chord and if we tack on the the lowest string it adds on a 5 to the bottom. So it kind of thickens up the sound it makes it a little bit inarticulate. Okay, so the trick when you’re playing

In open G is to avoid using the low E string unless you intentionally mean to use it for something like this. So there I’m using it for kind of like a country rock Walk Up sort of thing. There’s other stuff you can do with it obviously, but my point is your pic when you’re striking throughout this riff should be striking the a string.

And you’re going to be omitting the LOI throughout the whole rest of the Riff. Now, I’m not going to go into the details of how to tuned to open G now. I will put those in the notes for the lesson at my website Tyler There will be a link in the YouTube description below so you can go there and check that out that will give you the tuning so that you can get tuned to open G to play along with me. I’m just going to assume from here on out in the video that

You have tuned up to open G.

So let’s get into the Riff. Now the trick to this riff is that we are going to be hitting the fifth fret and the 3rd fret with our slide. Okay. So the three tones that the whole riff is composed of are open which is going to be open a d and g strings and then the 33rd position, which is 3rd fret, okay.

Remember your slide goes directly over the Fret very lightly so that it doesn’t bottom out the strings onto the neck. The string should not ever touch Frets or the neck of the guitar while you’re playing slide. So your slide hand should be nice and light just heavy enough to get good intonation, but no heavier. Okay, so that’s three and then we’ve got four. We’re calling this one for because we’re talking about Blues positions here. Okay, this is the one

The three and the four, what did that sound like bet you’ve never heard of beginning guitar player play that one. So to play this riff. The other big thing that we need to know is that we are playing a shuffle eighth note Rhythm punctuated by a triplet on the last beat.

The bar so we open up with our Shuffle down beats on the open a open G. Yeah. Okay. So we’re going to use that Rhythm throughout and then I’ll show you the triple it.

AAA AAA AAA. Yeah, okay. So now how do we get that really cool Vibe e slide.

Sauce on this for not even for lack of a better description. That’s what I believe. It’s got this song has got sauce to get sauce. Yes slide into the notes. Okay. Now we talked about this a little bit in my last video on slide guitar at the trick to playing slide is to slide in and out of notes and to land in intonation which means land directly over the Fret you can mask any imperfections with a little bit of vibrato. However this song

So pretty quick this riff is pretty quick. So there’s not a lot of room for vibrato on it. Yeah, there’s no room for vibrato on this one. So the trick is to slide up to 4 and then you play open again and slide up to three. You also need to be playing with all down Strokes.

It gives this song it’s really muscular feel. Okay, when you listen Johnny Ramone is the guy who I always think of when you think of like really powerful downstrokes creating this like super propulsive energetic sound using all down Strokes will always give you that kind of like gertner kind of vibe. So when you want to get that sound from your guitar you want to get that bite that attack all down is the way to go so we play all down Strokes.

Now the trick to really adding a bit of musicality to the tune in order to the to the riffing getting it getting it to really come into its own is to play a short slide into the for and play a longer slide into the three that longer slide into the three is really where the SAS comes from. Let’s play it slower, you know.

Hear that and also if you play emphasis on the downbeat of one.

Pretty cool, huh? I bet you’re getting that down. The last thing I’m going to show you is a lick that I borrowed from George Thorogood. Here’s the thing about the Muddy Waters riff That’s What I Call this one. It’s the Muddy Waters riff because he uses it in a bunch of songs most famously mannish boy, which was written as a response to I’m a man. Bye Bo Diddley pretty cool both both cool Tunes, but I think muddy I think muddy one that spat. You see Blues men have been going back and forth.

Making fun of each other way longer than rappers have any way George Thorogood took money Waters riff sped it up and made it into Bad to the Bone, right? You’ve heard this one.

So on and so forth. Well, that was the last thing that I wanted to show you was the reason that open G is I’m going to go ahead and say that the reason that open G is a superior slide guitar tuning to open D is because it allows you to hit the third on the high E string which makes all of your Melodies pop more easily because when you hit this note up here

And you’ve got your base not going I will play a little finger picking just you know to fingerstyle. It just sinks and open D tuning doesn’t do that in the same way. It’s a little lower just doesn’t sing the same way. So if you really want your guitar to sing with the slide open G is the way to go. She learned both. You should learn both.

But open G is the superior tuning for like a charm. So let’s just go ahead and quickly take a look at what I’m doing up there on the upper strings before we call it a day this video up here at the top. What I’m doing is I’m sliding up to the 12th fret

Okay. Now remember the 12th is the Octave of R1 and remember that when we play all of our strings bar using the slide. We’re getting major chords. Okay, so that’s why I can just slide up here to 12 on the lower bound of strengths the string five four three, and it sounds just as melodic as doing the the upper three strings.

Right. So the the primary spot where you’ll start to learn how to play licks in open G is between the 12th fret and the 10th fret okay, and here’s why because it forms a forms of rudimentary not totally complete pentatonic scale that you can use in blues. Music. Okay. Something remember about Blues Guys is that they were not practicing Theory they were just trying to find sounds that worked on their guitars. And so

So they didn’t really even have names for all this stuff most of them but they discovered that up here. If you slide back and forth between the 12th fret and the 10th fret with your slide. You can get all kinds of Melodies. So lets just hear what each note sounds like I’ll slide from 10 to 12 on the top four strings K because those are the melody strings. I will just do the top three that those are the melody strings, right?

Or what if we slide down?

I’ll just back and forth right in there. So when you start wanting to play around and do a little bit of lead slide playing this would be a spot to start start with your 12th fret on the high E string.

Alright, that’s it for today’s lesson. Get out of here. Go. Have fun with your slides.

On your way out the door, please. Be sure to subscribe, you know when you’re out there floating around in the world. Maybe consider telling a friend about my videos. I’m going to keep producing these every day. It’s my pleasure to make them for you questions. Hit me up on Twitter at mr. Tyler Preston or shoot me an e-mail Tyler a ton of press newsletter on my website and until next time good luck. Have fun and happy strumming.

Tyler Preston

Tyler Preston

National touring singer-songwriter & music teacher. I'm a country boy at heart, but I paid my dues singin' the blues. Find me on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.