China Cat Sunflower 1st Guitar Solo – Video Lesson

Let's examine Jerry Garcia's guitar solo over the 1st instrumental break on the "Europe '72" version of China Cat Sunflower.

​In this post I'm going to take a look at the 9 bar instrumental break that occurs between the verses of "China Cat Sunflower". This section was a great vehicle for Garcia to improvise over, and he always came through with melodic, yet energetic lines that would perfectly segue into the next verse (or main guitar solo as happens after the 2nd instrumental break).

Continue reading

Touch of Grey – Jerry Garcia’s Solo – Video Lesson

Jerry Garcia's guitar solo on Touch of Grey is a masterclass in soloing out of chord shapes.

"In the Dark" was released 30 years ago, in the summer of 1987. Commercially, it did very well, spawning a whole new generation of Deadheads. The Grateful Dead finally broke into pop culture, and one reason for that was due to the success of the single, "Touch of Grey". Although not a new song (The Dead first performed "Touch of Grey" on September 15, 1982), "Touch of Grey" had become somewhat of an anthem for The Dead, and was the first song they performed after Garcia's near death experience.

In this video lesson, we're going to use Jerry's solo from "Touch of Grey" as a study in soloing out of chord shapes. Garcia uses basic open chord shapes (the CAGED system) to create a melodic and timeless solo. 

Continue reading

Ringin’ That Bell – Part 3 – Jerry Garcia’s 2nd Guitar Solo on Franklin’s Tower

In this third and final post in the series, we're going to examine Jerry Garcia's playing on the 2nd guitar solo from the studio version of "Franklin's Tower". As I stated before, these solos from the "Blues for Allah" recording are great study pieces for looking into the Jerry Garcia guitar style. Each solo is its own masterclass in developing a beautifully melodic solo over a classic Mixolydian chord progression.

Continue reading

Ringin’ That Bell – Part 2 – Jerry Garcia’s 1st Guitar Solo on Franklin’s Tower

In this second post dedicated to Jerry's playing on "Franklin's Tower" we are going to study the first guitar solo from the album version of this "Grateful Dead" classic. The main reason I chose to look at these 3 solos from the "Blues for Allah" version is because they are short, melodic, and very well crafted examples of Jerry's approach when it comes to soloing over "Franklin's Tower". In 8 short measures, you can see the development of an idea from start to finish.

Continue reading

Ringin’ That Bell – Part 1 – Jerry Garcia’s Intro Guitar Solo on Franklin’s Tower

If you've ever ended up jamming with a group or playing a gig with band that does one or two "Grateful Dead" songs, chances are you've found yourself playing the song "Franklin's Tower". It's one of the more popular "Dead" tunes people like to jam on, and for good reason. One of those reasons is definitely because it consists of only three chords. However, as easy as it may seem on the surface to solo over this three chord song progression, it's a safe bet to say you'll probably run out of ideas quickly, especially if you're expected to take extended guitar solo, as Garcia often would.

Over this 3-part series, I'm going to take a look at the intro, first, and second guitar solos from the studio album version of "Franklin's Tower". Although it may not seem very hard to improvise over this quintessential Mixolydian progression, few guitarists accurately emulate Jerry's beautiful, yet elusive style when taking their turn at it. By examining these three solos (24 measures), we can begin to see how Jerry would approach playing over this classic progression.

Continue reading
>