Trout Fishing 

by Liam Cain, 26th June 2018 


A previous blog post How to Focus Your Guitar Playing explained that putting your energy into studying one player for a month can be beneficial. A student expressed interest in learning a Walter Trout song, Say Goodbye To The Blues. You will discover the insights used to help unlock Trout's playing.

Step 1 - Listen & Watch

The first thing is listening. Here is a live version from Amsterdam on Spotify.
After listening, watch a live performance to help consolidate the listening process.

Step 2 - Analysis


The next task is to work out the time signature, key, form, and chords used. Say Goodbye To The Blues is a 12/8 slow shuffle groove in the key of A minor. Trout is playing a quick change blues (he goes to the IV in the second bar) which is the same as Texas Flood by Stevie Ray Vaughan, whom the song was originally dedicated.

The 12 Bar Form of Say Goodbye To The Blues

| Am7 | Dm7 | Am7 |Dm7|
| Dm7 | Dm7 | Am7 | Am7 |
  | E7  | Dm7 | Am7 Dm7 | Am7 E7 |

The harmony uses minor 7th chords. If Trout used minor chords, he could use the natural minor scale in addition to pentatonic and blues scales. The approach used by guitarists like Gary Moore producing a darker mood. They get even darker by adding the harmonic minor scale - listen to the run by Slash in Sweet Child of Mine as he kicks in the wah. 
The use of the minor 7th harmony implies the Dorian mode which is a little brighter because of the natural 6th. Both the Aeolian and Dorian modes use a natural 2nd. Add this note to the pentatonic scale.

A minor Pentatonic Add 2


The E7 is a sharp 9 - the Hendrix chord used in Purple Haze. The Hendrix chord is an altered dominant chord. Trout plays the melodic minor over this chord. Use the natural 7th as a passing note over the Hendrix chord like Trout in his turnaround licks.

Adding the Natural 7th to Pentatonic Scale


The harmonic minor and melodic minor scales share this natural 7th. Like the natural second it makes a great addition to the stock minor pentatonic scale over a minor or minor 7th chord.

Step 3 - Jam


Play along with the track. Play rhythm to get the groove. Practice soloing. Trout uses the pentatonic all over the guitar neck. Can you?

Learn How to Navigate the Fretboard


Enjoying having fun with Say Goodbye To The Blues. Trout's guitar playing is full of fire and isexciting to play.

Cover Art by Theo Reijnders: pinterest.com


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