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Old 06-15-2013, 12:36 PM
KarlK KarlK is offline
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Default Pros vs. Joes – Ryan Adams “Dirty Rain” & A Cover

I have been trying to learn Ryan Adams “Dirty Rain” and when I try to learn a song, I try to find the best “visible” artist performance, the best tab I can, the best cover I can, and the put it all together to work to master the song as best as I can as the hack that I am.

So before you read further, take a look and listen to these three links.

The RA performance.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yALUj2ghLqs

The best cover I found, done with what seems like a very professional recording setup.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ydJw1A0a9_s

And the tab – which seems quite true to the Ryan Adams performance above.
http://www.guitaretab.com/r/ryan-adams/318276.html

We’ll concentrate here on the guitar playing differences rather than the singing. The singing differences are obvious, in that Adams creates some pretty remarkable and distinctive Adam-y vocal effects, particularly when he gets to the chorus – “So, oh, oh” – a quasi-yodle that gets to appropriate emotional heights. But the cover singer, Adam Simons, has a very strong voice.

So what are the playing differences?

1. Modulation --
Both players are playing quality guitars though they are different. Adams is playing his trademark Harmony Jet black, a deep resonant guitar that is amplified to bring out its boominess. Simons it appears is playing a Martin laminate. But listen to the opening bars of each performance – watch how Adams works to project an obvious but very subtle dynamic range. Modulation is key in Adams playing – it seems he is trying to keep the guitar quiet so the singing takes precedence but then getting the base notes with the thumb and other treble notes louder for transitions and other fills so they become distinctive to the listener’s ear. For Simons, the sound is at one level – the guitar seems too loud. Of course, some of that is attributable to the fact that Adams is combining finger style and pickless strumming while Simons is using a pick.

2. Chord choice – Simons has all the chords down, but Adams at key points chooses very different chord voicings. For example, in the first chorus – the “So...” Adams chooses the 5th position A barre (@1:23) whereas Simon heads back down to first position A (1:45) then back up to B at the 7th position. Adams hand positioning is more efficient (a trademark of his playing, economy of movement is key). Adams barre A allows movement up to the barre B to occur quickly and for JUST an instant, and then allows him to voice a E shape even further up the neck, where Adams does a very subtle pull off. (@1:32). And note the chord choices at song’s conclusion, particularly Adams transition @3:01-3;05 – with what seems like a Dsus and Asus combinations, whereas Simons in hard strumming D and A majors.

3. Fills and Hammers with Precision – This is where Adams shines. Both he and Simons do the index finger 1st position A bar and the similar B shape up the board, but note how Adams really makes the hammer ons pop for the Db and Eb notes on the A and B chords respectively. Simons tries for the effect, but at times it’s muddied. Compare, too, the way each payer does the walk up to chorus. Simons strikes single notes on the Low E, whereas Adams does an up and down on each note. Also, watch how Adams walks down the fretboard (@1:45-1:48) from Barre A to barre G#min, to barre F#min, to E, for a great effect, and then proceeds up to 2:00 striking single notes with precision and clarity.

Anyway, this is not to disparage Simons cover – he is clearly talented and a better guitar player and singer than me. But I think a “pros vs joes” comparison can be very instructive.

Last edited by KarlK; 06-15-2013 at 12:49 PM.
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