Play blues guitar like Albert Collins

20th May 2008 | 10:55

Play blues guitar like Albert Collins
You don't need to re-tune to learn these Collins-style licks
Play blues guitar like Albert Collins
This busy phrase features all the important elements. Short snappy notes appear alongside flowing pentatonic lines, intense vibrato and all manner of string bending. As if this weren't enough, there are triplets, doublestops and dotted 'swing' rhythms
Play blues guitar like Albert Collins
Here, you're emulating the type of phrasing that occurs naturally when using a capo, open tuning and lots of open strings. The quick-fire pentatonic runs are still a major feature, though this time tempered with some longer sustained notes. An ideal oppurtunity to work on your vibrato!
Play blues guitar like Albert Collins
You can really hear how this type of playing must have influenced a young Gary Moore. Albert was more fond of the searing, high register notes than many of his contemporaries. Again, take your time and you'll be surprised how quickly this falls under the fingers.

Check out this video lesson with free tab

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In 1952, Albert's band Albert Collins and the Rhythm Rockers cut The Freeze. This amply demonstrated his prowess on the instrument. Between 1958 and 1971 Albert recorded mainly instrumental Texas blues, with titles like Frosty, Sno-Cone and Defrost.

Between 1974/75 Albert quit playing the guitar completely and took a job in construction, working on Neil Diamond's house among others! By 1978, his wife Gwen had cajoled him back into his preferred profession of music.

He has since toured all over the world in his own right and as a guest with the likes of Gary Moore. His influence has reached far and wide, to players like Robert Kray and Stevie Ray Vaughan.

Albert Collins passed away in 1993, but is still considered one of the main figures in blues history.

The first thing you have to deal with here is Albert's unusual approach to tuning. He usually tuned the guitar to open Fminor (low to high: F-C-F-Ab-C-F), with a capo at the 5th, 6th or 7th fret. No doubt this contributed to his sound, but for your convenience -and sanity- we've stuck to standard tuning. After all, you don't need to copy someone slavishly to capture the essence of their playing.

You can learn the licks in the video by following our free tab.

The way to get the most authentic tone would be to use a single coil pickup -or combination of neck and bridge to be precise. If you're using a Strat-type guitar, try the middle pickup. This will give you a similar 'bite'.

Albert used to carry around a Fender Quad Reverb amplifier, as he felt this was an important part of his tone. You can still get close with a clean(ish) setting on any amp, with a splash of spring reverb.

Another key element is the attack Albert got using his right hand thumb and fingers to 'snap' the strings towards the fretboard, rather than the fuller sound which results from the more conventional pick stroke.

If you want to learn more about classic blues players then check out our video lessons on how to play like Freddie King and how to play like BB King

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