Here are Chris Buck’s top five tips for better blues-rock guitar playing

For someone still so young, it feels like Chris Buck has been around for a long time. Indeed, it was in 2010 that the Welsh guitarist started making waves as part of the Tom Hollister trio, celebrated by Steve Winwood as the next big thing and taken over by legendary GN’R manager Alan Niven, only for the everything. collapsing on their first US tour as singer Hollister called out the band.

The trio of Buck, Hollister and drummer Adam Roberts remained close in the years that followed, however, and as Buck’s star began to rise as a solo artist, the old friends wondered if it was time to give the band another chance, and joined the bass player. Sam Williams, Cardinal Black was born.

The quartet began recording material in 2020, and aside from the small matter of a tour supporting Myles Kennedy, that hard work has now paid off in the form of a debut album, January is approachingwhich was released at the end of October 2022.
The album shows money in rare form, demonstrating searing blues-rock tracks that drip with technique, feel and emotion in a very hard-to-find package.

To celebrate the release of Cardinal Black’s debut album, we asked Chris to give us his top five tips that can make YOU a better blues-rock player, or as the man himself puts it – a better guitar player. in general ! Check out the tips below or click the video above to watch it all.

1. Learn your one-rope intervals

“As guitarists, we can no doubt be a little guilty on occasion of getting stuck in this idea of ​​a fretboard made up of frets or shapes or scales or modes, when in fact all the notes we will need appear on a single string!

“Of course, not everything will be convenient to play on one string, but having an idea of ​​all those notes and how they relate to each other can be extremely helpful in unlocking the fretboard.”

2. Get comfortable with your fingers

“Being comfortable with the fingers of your picking hand is extremely helpful – not just for adding textural, tonal and dynamic variation to what you’re playing, but on a practical level, it won’t send you back to your amp or your microphone. stay upright if you drop a pick in the middle of a concert!

“Finding a comfortable, accessible place to hold my pick when I wasn’t using it – freeing up fingers that would have been occupied just holding the plectrum – became an integral part of my playing. The great thing about it is that There’s no wrong or right way to do it – if it works for you and is comfortable, accessible and helps your style of play, then it’s the right way!

3. Watch where you choose

“A lot of guitarists are guilty of finding a place where it’s comfortable for their hand to rest and not really straying from it. But even the slightest variation from this – whether it’s a simple flick of the fingers, wrist or hand – can produce massive textural, tonal and dynamic results.

“If you play directly above the mic you’re using, you’ll get a louder, fatter sound, while if you move away from that mic, the sound will become quieter and thinner. Likewise, playing closer to the neck will give you a darker, warmer sound, while playing closer to the bridge will give you a thinner, more nasal sound.

4. Work on your vibrato

“This extends to all guitarists – myself included! I’ve been guilty of extending a unique approach to my vibrato – in the heat of the moment my vibrato can feel like a door swinging in the wind, so it’s definitely something that requires attention, practice and perseverance.

“Simplistically, on a slow track your vibrato should be commensurate with that – slow, groovy and controlled – whereas a faster, more frantic track will likely accept a faster, more frantic vibrato.”

5. Play with a purpose (less is more)

“Playing to let the notes breathe and with intention will always trump senseless bursts of notes and scales, or regurgitating things you’ve practiced and rehearsed before. Being aware of your phrasing and what you’re trying to say in the context of the song is really the most important thing you can do as a guitarist.

“What I’ve discovered recently is that the older I get, the less I play – which might seem counter-intuitive. Surely, the better and more skilled you get, the more you play? But for me, playing with a goal and having the confidence to say more with less has really become a key part of my game.”

Cardinal Black’s new album January Came Close is out now – find out more at thecardinalblack.com

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