Stevie Ray Vaughan vs. Robben Ford... What Separates Them?

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These bonus lessons have been created to supplement the material covered in the free YouTube lesson linked below. Please watch it first.

Stevie Ray Vaughan and Robben Ford are both rightfully considered to be two masters of the genre that is blues. However, they each have their own unique style and approaches to blues guitar playing and in this free YouTube guitar lesson, I breakdown some key differences between their individual approaches to improvising a solo over a 12-bar blues shuffle.

When Stevie Ray Vaughan would solo over tracks in the key of E (or Eb) like Pride & Joy, Testify, Scuttle Buttin' or Mary Had a Little Lamb, he would bulldoze his way through a series of licks laden with open string notes, slides and hammer-ons & pull-offs targeting notes like b5's and b9's, with such a ferocious and visceral intensity that very few guitar players (myself included) are capable of imitating accurately. In tracks like the ones mentioned above, there was barely and space left between licks in his solos.

Robben Ford on the other hand, has a more laid back approach to soloing over shuffles. He'll often open with a short phrase to make a statement. He would then pause, let it breathe and then come back with a rebuttal in the form of a phrase that sounds similar to the first one but that is altered in some big or small way, rhythmically and/or melodically.

He would then build the solo by connecting strings of phrases together over the course of 12 bars and vary his dynamics greatly in the process - some notes would be hit with a soft approach, others would have hard accents placed on them. In addition to all of this, he'd frequently change the position of his picking hand to get it closer to the bridge or closer to the fretboard which allows him to get a different timbral effect - grittier and twangier closer to the bridge, softer towards the fretboard.

Harmonically speaking, Robben Ford was a bit more adventurous with his note choices than Stevie Ray Vaughan. He will regularly throw in notes that add tension and release to the chord changes in a blues progression. Check out the lesson below for a lick that demonstrates this...

In this free YouTube lesson that analyses the aforementioned differences between the two players, I demonstrate two solos that emulate the playing styles of both Stevie and Robben one after the other, as well as four licks that were written to highlight the differences between their approaches to playing through the changes in a 12-bar blues progression.

Members of have exclusive access to the TAB files for these solos and licks in both Guitar Pro and PDF format. The backing track is also included in both streamable video and downloadable WAV file format.

What's included?

  • Pride & Joy style blues shuffle backing track in the key of E (video & downloadable WAV file)
  • TAB files for YouTube solos and lick examples (Guitar Pro & PDF)
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Section 1

Study the solos and licks with TAB files and the backing track