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Little Red Rooster

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In this tutorial I'm going to teach you how to play the classic blues song "Little Red Rooster" as made famous by the one and only Howlin' Wolf. It doesn't get much more authentic than this song, and it's been covered by countless other blues artists. This great version of the song features a full band, but is driven by a dirty sounding electric slide guitar in an open A tuning. Just like it's the case with many other blues songs from this era, this main guitar could support the vocals and the song completely on it's own. The other instruments add a lot too, but the main slide guitar and the vocals make up the backbone of the whole thing. So naturally the electric slide guitar is the part you want to play, if you play this song with only one guitar. This guitar also plays a couple of cool and extremely expressive solos.

The harmonic structure of this song is based on an alternative version of a 12 bar form, where you start on the IV-chord. They pretty much stick to this form through the whole song with just a few exceptions, where the singer/slide player changes the chord at the top of the form or shortens the form spontaneously. On the recording you can actually hear the band get confused a couple of times, but that's all part of the sound.

Although it's hard to hear on the recording there is a really cool rhythm guitar part supporting the main guitar through the whole thing. This part is very loose and jammy, but we're going to condense it into a more concise part that you can use for this song as well as a million other blues songs. We'll also talk about how to get your tones just right for this song for both the rhythm and the lead guitar. The song is in the key of A, with a slow groove in 4/4 with the classic swinging eighth notes. The quarter note equals 78 BPM. Let's get right to it!

Lesson Info
Little Red Rooster