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FAVORITE LESSON STICKY
  • For new and old Campy Forum members ... Name your favorite lessons, and advise why...

    Edited from previous posts ...

    Four Wheel Drive lesson
    "...I have recently ordered the Four Wheel Drive lesson and I can´t recommend it highly enough. It will certainly keep you busy for a long time and will give you an insight of the genius of Buddy Emmons. For Jazz standards, a good resource is Ralph Patt's website, which has the "vanilla changes" of hundreds of jazz standards..."
    RogerioFerraz

    Panhandle Rag
    "...I would have to second going back over Panhandle Rag. Many many (a gazillion) options and variations of the main theme and verse are provided by Jim. It took me quite a while to absorb it all, but it gives a lot of insight into how to spice up a simple country chord progression..."
    clyde

    Country Soul Guitar
    "...I did Country Soul recently. Loved it! lot's of tasty licks..."
    halouis
  • Hi Jim,
    Yes, I am huge fan of the Four Wheel Drive lesson, but if I had to pick a favorite it would be the first one I have bought: Panhandle Rag. Why? Because it opened up my mind to a lot of non-traditional chords and new improvisation concepts, and for introducing to me new music that would otherwise probably take me longer to discover, such as Leon McAuliffe, Buddy Charleton, Buddy Emmons, Lloyd Green and so many other great pedal steelers who are incredibly inspirational.
    However, what I find the most fun about the lessons is the interchangeability between them. For example, I like to apply some of the Panhandle Rag concepts over Smoke Gets in your Eyes and vice versa. Or maybe try some of the Four Wheel Drive licks over a Tom Jobim song I might be learning and so on.
  • I decided to pick up Panhandle Rag based in part on your suggestion. I don't really have a lot of experience with this tune, but quite a few people on the forum seem to really love this lesson. I'm excited to dig into it, partly because I came across an awesome version of the tune played by Joe Dalton. I recommend doing a YouTube search for that one, lots of nice pedal steel licks.
  • Hi Jason,
    Glad to hear you took the plunge on Panhandle Rag. I hope you have fun with it as much as I do! Let us know what you think once you dig into it. And, yes, there are so many great versions out there: I love the ones by Lloyd Green and Jerry Byrd!
  • Twister.

    I'm pretty sure a lot of people like this one. Plenty of reasons. The opening Bm riff is simple but great. Nice double stops ala Campilongo/Reed. And the amazing Roy Nichols F#9 lick with the high E pedal in the solo.

    Mostly it's just a great song that's fun to play. Like Donny and Marie, a little bit country a little bit rock and roll.
  • Nuages!!!

    1.- Great Song. I love the melody....
    2.- Freddie Green Chords: Beautiful and effective
    3.- Last but not least: a lot of improv ideas: the JCampilongo triads aproach, Django style licks, two octaves arpeggios, b9 over dominant chords, and a lot of ideas...

    In my opinion is a great lesson

    Saludos
    Juan from Chile

  • My favourite lesson so far is Tiramisu. It's such a beautiful melody and lots of pretty voicings. The song is so full of tasteful subtleties and ornaments that I would never have thought of myself but now use (at least in concept) in other material.
    It forced me to focus on touch & tone to recreate it.
    It's made me go back and look at some other "cool" things I do to try to play even more dynamically.
    Now, onto "when you wish upon a star". That one gives me goose bumps every time.
  • > clyde - Twister

    Also my favorite right now. It's the first time I've really focused on speed and it feels great. I've almost got the bpm where it should be, but I need to connect the phrases more smoothly so it doesn't sound like a series of disconnected riffs every time I set into a new position.

    I'm also working on Pretty Awful (sweeps and speed) and Nang Nang (for the pedal steel bends)
  • Hi Jim, this was a tough question to answer! I hope this isn't cheating, but here is my top 10 list of Campy lessons:

    10) Freddie Green - I took this lesson as a follow up to the "Understanding Voice Progressions" lesson. Again, as a newbie to playing jazzy sounding tunes, I was looking for a lesson that would provide good building blocks and insight. This lesson hit the nail on the head. There were a bunch of new chord forms that I learned that have been priceless in the creation of my own original tunes. And the included studies progress nicely from beginner to intermediate to fairly advanced. I think that this lesson has a little something for everyone no matter what level of skill. Oh, and its a lot of fun!

    9) Prettiest Girl in New York - This one has to make my list because it also one of my favorite Campy originals. Its one of the "sweetest" sounding and most "playful" tunes that I have ever learned. Its another song that I can never get enough of. This is a perfectly paced and logically laid out lesson. This is a fun song that has a few challenges along the way but again very doable because of the thoughtful way that the lesson is presented.

    8) Backburner - So I had been obsessed with this song for a few years and was wondering if Jim would ever do a LBM for it. When I saw it available on the site it was like Christmas had come early. I actually took a vacation day from work to stay home and dig into this one. Outside of those crazy Low E string behind the nut bends, this was a song that was more "doable" than I had anticipated. This tune has one of my favorite guitar solos of all time. There are very distinct parts and each one is so melodic and voice like that it still blows me away every time I hear it. Learning how to play it note for note was such a great feeling! And once again, the perfectly paced tempo of the lesson facilitated an easy learning curve.

    7) Chet Song - This could be the most "FUN" lesson on my list. Learning some Chet inspired licks is always gonna be a challenge, but Jim breaks this down so nicely that its a snap. And most importantly, the improv ideas on how to use 3rds and 6th were incredibly insightful. And learning some really cool ways to create solos out of the major scale was a real treat. Add more ideas/techniques on how to play over changes and this lesson is a home run!

    6) Twister - This is still one of my favorite Campy originals and love the way this lesson is paced. I remember purchasing the lesson thinking that I would never get through the entire song but would learn a few of my favorite licks. Well, I ended taking the lesson exactly as planned out and...to my surprise...within a few days I could play a recognizable version of Twister. Learning this song really boosted my confidence in my playing AND inspired me to attempt even more complex pieces. A very well thought out and well paced lesson that is fun and inspiring.

    5) B - Flat Blues - This is a challenging and incredibly insightful lesson. This lesson will take your blues playing to the next level and way beyond. This lesson takes the triad approach for playing over changes and cranks it up a few notches as you learn to play over various chord forms. Something incredibly satisfying about nailing these changes all while maintaining melodic and fluid melodies. And I learned a ton of licks in this lesson that I started to change around to create my own melodies. This is literally "a lesson that keeps on giving." This was definitely a game changer for me that really did help me break out of the rut of playing the same old tired blues riffs that I had been playing for years.

    4) Over the Rainbow - This was my first LBM and one that opened my eyes to chord forms that I never knew existed. This was by a recommendation from Jim when I was looking for a lesson to expand my chord repertoire. I remember looking at all of these new chords (because I was mostly a 3 chord Ramones/Stones hack before my LBM journey) and thinking that it would be impossible. But in a short amount of time I started to really nail these new and "exotic looking" chords. Clear instructions and brilliantly charted out. Within two weeks I sounded like an entirely re-born player. I was hooked on Lessons By Mail!


    3) Travis - I always loved the sound of fingerpicking and had failed numerous times trying to learn from youtube videos. I remember spending an inordinate amount of time the first night trying to get the first pattern down. But, I followed Jim's instruction on the lesson and went over the pattern repeatedly. The first evening with the lesson, I really thought that it was beyond me. However, the next day I sat down to give it another shot and...all of a sudden the fingers on my right hand were dancing around that first pattern like it was second nature. I'll never forget the feeling of that. The next patterns were a snap. Over time I started to pick up some speed and come up with some pretty cool uses for working the finger picking into some of my original tunes. This is an A+ beginner lesson that I have gotten years of mileage out of. I simply could not have done it without Jim's incredibly logical and realistic approach to the entire venture.

    2) Understanding Voice Progressions - As a newbie to "jazz chords" this lesson changed my playing life forever. This was a big lesson for me wherein I really just focused on the new chord grips and utilizing the grips to learn the included Hank Garland progression. As all of these chords were completely foreign to me, I had to spend a good deal of time just getting my fingers to line up properly. Once I could nail that Garland progression using the various grips I started to make up my own progressions using these chords all based on the two main progressions that Jim teaches to kick off the lesson. For me this was like "jazz boot camp" that was worth every second that I spent on it. The creative doors that this has opened are too many to count.

    1) Playing the Blues (AND) Playing the Blues/Nailing the changes - Ok, so I'm cheating again as these are two separate lessons. But taking them back to back changed my world. I had been playing blues based music for a long time and thought I had a good grasp on the blues scale and how to use it. Well, these 2 lessons really blew me away and taught me how to "strip away" a lot the fat around what I had been previously playing! In the First Playing the Blues lesson Jim slices the pentatonic and blues scale into much more usable fragments than I had ever worked with...all the while teaching me how to nimbly and effortlessly move up and down the neck. A lesson that on its face looked somewhat basic and rudimentary has proven to be one the most profound and impactful lessons that I have ever take. Then, in Nailing The Changes, new createive doors continued to open as I learned how to confidently start playing over changes in a way that really opened up the musicality in my playing. And, to my surprise both of these lessons planted the seeds for learning how to play country and rockabilly. There is genius in the "simplicity" of these two lessons that have somehow proven to be infinitely applicable every time I pick up the guitar. In my opinion, these two lessons offer the essential genetic/molecular structure for anyone who wants to play more fluently and melodically.
  • CJ-

    This is tremendous. We all appreciate your generosity taking the time to write your excellent insights. I hope to see you soon my friend and and thank you!

    -Jim
  • I will second CJ's evaluation of Over the Rainbow. I was never into chord melody playing but I gave that lesson a try. I swear there is not a single "difficult to grab" chord in the whole lesson. Sounds great and relatively easy. What could be better.
  • I just finished the Truck Drivin Guitar lesson that was recently added. It's the playing of Gene Moles in Red Simpson's band. Three songs are taught; Truck Drivin Man (key of E), Highway Patrol (key of A), and Diesel Smoke, Dangerous Curves (key of G minor). Great songs with great guitar in the good old Bakersfield Country style. Gene Moles is phenomenal and I would have to believe if he played with Buck or Merle that he would be much better known among guitarists. Red Simpson is great in his own right but he didn't have the popularity of the other two.

    Jim teaches the intro, solo and rhythm for each song. Jim goes out of his way to show his admiration for Gene as he teaches, and if you get the lesson you'll see why. The solo's are great and really illuminate Gene's unique style. I guarantee these probably are not licks you've seen, heard or played before. These solo's really twist, turn, and twang. Once you get through Highway Patrol you'll see what an influence Gene was on Junior Brown. Junior covers that song and lifts parts of Gene's solo verbatim. From what I understand Gene was also an expert in twisting the tuning pegs while playing and Junior also got that from him. I also see a bit of Gene in our friend Mr. Campilongo. When Jim gets aggressive when playing a single note solo, it seems to me he picks harder, plays staccato and cuts the notes short. It sounds cool. I hear that in Gene's playing, though not really in these solo's except maybe the end of Diesel Smoke.

    Another thing I really liked about the lesson was that Jim does a "recap" of each solo where he plays it in its entirety, with limited accompaniment, at about 3/4 speed and he counts it off. Really, really helpful. A good middle ground before trying to play along with Gene.

    I really marvel at Gene's playing, and the more I learn the more I wonder where and how he came up with this stuff. I like this format where Jim focusses on a single players style across a number of pieces. I could go for more of that. The whole lesson being devoted to Gene really provides a lot of depth.
  • Thanks so much Clyde-

    I actually sent someone an email this morning asking about the "Truck..." lesson. I was wondering if the "Truck.." addition was making folks happy - Your email was a timely joy to read! Aside from feeling the responsibility of representing Gene Moles work accurately - I am trying to make the lessons better and I'm glad the 3/4 speed feature helped. Next time out, I'll have a rhythm track too, so guitarists can play *without me*.

    I'm learning how to improve the lessons and this forum has helped me tremendously! Anyway Clyde, I really appreciate the positive feedback and thanks for buying the lesson.

    Have a great day- Jim
  • Hi, I'm a new contributor to the forum. Over the last few months I've gone through a few lessons and thought I'd pitch in.

    For context I've played for around 15 years but mostly country blues, folk and finger picking stuff. John Fahey, Davey Graham, John Hurt, Skip James, Blind Blake, Nick Drake and such. A lot of altered tunings but I just just played tunes really. Anyway, about 18 months ago I bought an electric guitar and delved into a bit of blues soloing and studying the boxes etc. Since then I got a bunch of Jim's lessons and thought I'd share my thoughts.

    Playing the blues nailing the changes
    As a generally learn-by-rote player, sorry I was a singer, this really helped me to start seeing changes. Other than that it's worth it alone for the bending exercises. I thought I was fine bending notes but this one made me realise I was a really a novice, but bear in mind I was an acoustic player and had no idea how to bend into changes at all. Kind of a revelation.

    B flat blues
    This one builds on the nailing the changes lesson and other than having some really nice go-to licks, it really makes you look at the underlying chord tones of a progression. It was pretty big for me. The triad exercises really help you to know the notes and shapes on the neck and feel confident with outlining the chord tones. I'm still working on it. For me at least, it's tough but the pay off is worth it. It's slightly depressing/inspirational how easily Jim makes improv lines sound. Obviously I need to work harder.

    Up a lazy river
    Other than the fact that this is a wonderful tune in itself and full of tasteful licks it really gets you thinking about chord tones and triads. It's a must have companion to B flat blues in my mind.

    Over the rainbow
    I got this one first and as a folky/country blues player I learnt a few new chord shapes and a pretty arrangement of a well known tune. My first excursion into chord melody and totally doable as Jim says. If you have just a couple of years' worth of playing under your fingers you'll pick it up pretty quickly.

    Stardust
    If you've got Over the rainbow nailed go for this. More chord shapes and another lovely melody. And lovely chord shapes. I learned the single note lines along with the chord melody and a whole new world opened up for me.
  • Fingerpicker- thank you so much for the post! -Jim
  • Hi, i'm new here as well. i bought the travis picking lesson and the playing the blues lesson a few weeks ago and i am very very happy with both. i tried to learn a lot from books and often found them discouraging because it's often too much information for me and it was hard to find the music i really wanted to learn and play. the campy lessons work much better for me, it's the right amount of information and i immediately started to play around and improvise with the stuff i learned- perfect for me! i will head to playing the blues-nailing the changes soon and i am very curious about the country soul lesson (i love so much the guitar work of the Band / robbie robertson and also of the new lucinda williams album and i hope it leads me a little bit in that direction...)...country lead in G seems to be a must for me as well (i have no /very less knowledge of country lead guitar...) . Recommendations are very, very wellcome, i would love to learn some sweet bakersfield licks... As there is very, very limited possibillity to learn County / Americana Music here in Germany i am very happy i found the campy lessons. thank you all and have a great day,
    Jochen from Luebeck / Germany
  • Jochen...To get some country licks under your belt you wont do any better than "Country Soul" and "Country Lead in G." For the Bakersfield sound try the Buckaroo lesson and the Truck Drivin (Gene Moles) lesson and the Workin'Man lesson. Also "Steel Guitar Licks and Beyond."

    I agree with you that the format of these lessons is excellent for absorbing the material. Also, on the Bakersfield stuff just listen to a ton of Buck Owens, Merle Haggard, Red Simpson, and also Dwight Yoakum (Pete Anderson on guitar). The world is your oyster when it comes to this stuff.
  • thank you, clyde!
  • After shoveling slush for about an hour I decided to play some guitar. I worked through the "Gotta Get Drunk" lesson. This is a Little Willies tune with Nora Jones on vocals. It's a medium to up tempo swinging country tune. I believe Willie Nelson wrote it.

    Jim teaches the intro, rhythm, and two 32 bar solos. The rhythm is nice, mostly 6th and 9th chords on the top four strings punctuating the vocals. Perhaps a few voicings you haven't seen.

    The progression is 16 bars in the key of A, uses the I7, IV7, and V7 chords and sneaks in the II7 (B7) for one measure. Jim's solos are improvised and except for a tip of the hat to Jimmie Rivers at the start of solo one and Don Rich near the end of solo two, they are pure Campilongo (at least to my ears). Harmonics, behind the nut bends, chickin pickin, chromaticism, some pedal steel like stuff played out of chord forms.

    After learning the solos, I spent some time analyzing how Jim navigated the chord changes. One of my favorites is bars 5-8 of the first solo (A7-A7-B7-E7). I found quite a lot of stuff to take away from this lesson and try to put my own spin on it. Yet another good one.
  • One that I haven't seen anyone comment about is the 'Crazy' lesson. I feel this is the best one in terms of pedal steel offerings. Jim arranges it as a pedal steel/sixth interval chord melody of the tune. It's a thin arrangement without extended chords, so it really shows how you can get away with little and sound great. Works great with playing with a full band.
  • Thank you everyone -I really appreciate the posts here. Aside from helping out other Forum members choose the appropriate lesson for their needs - It warms my heart to know folks are getting some inspiration from the lessons... (though I'm self conscious about beating my chest so I usually refrain from writing in this thread)

    On this note, William and I are going through the older lessons and will try to improve the sonic quality. As we all know, some of the older, pre-Pro Tool lessons could be "hotter" and I appreciate you all dealing with this - but no worries, we won't edit out the car horns and police sirens.
  • Hola Amigos!!
    One of my all time favorite lesson is "Country Soul".
    Here is my humble cover:

    http://youtu.be/cdXd8kG8I3A

    Thanks Jim for all the lessons !!
    Saludos
    Juan
    (CHILE)
  • Great work Juan - well played! Thank you for posting

    All the best- Jim

  • After a six year hiatus from playing I looked for a lesson plan to move me from an Intermediate 3-5 level. I started with Travis Picking 101 and Blackbird. My first foray into hybrid picking. It truly reinvigorated my love of playing. And a technical milestone for my playing.

    I then ordered Sonic Tele. Wow!! That lesson plan will keep me busy for months. Very technical. Just what I need to push me to be a better player. Can't always stay in my comfort zone. This one captures the essence of Jim's technical stylings.

    Next ordered lesson was the great Hank Garland Sugarfoot Rag. Awesome right hand exercise. Great fun with many applications.

    I then ordered Teen Scene via Chet Atkins. Anorher fun and an easy lesson that will open many doors on down the road.

    Lastly, I just ordered Step It Up And Go and Playing the Blues. Can't wait to dive in!

    Thanks Jim for the inspiration and getting me back on track.

    Now I need more hours in the day…any suggestions there?

    Bill
  • Just finished the Big Bill lesson. One of Jim's older ones (I think). Cool song. I Really like the diversity in the intro A, B, and C sections. Seemed like three different songs but somehow Jim seems to integrate it all together. The into has some diminished licks and some nice dissonances. The solo is more or less over Rhythm Changes (Bb). A lot of different stuff. The bluegrass run, Jimmy River's licks, chicken pickin, chromaticism, etc. Definitely a fun tune with lots of licks.
  • I finally finished the Silent Night lesson, just in time for Christmas. I want to say it was a freebie last year, but my memory isn't what it used to be. Anyway, it was really cool playing it for my family. My wife really enjoyed it. My eight year old, not so much. He recently discovered AC/DC and gives unfavorable reviews to anything that isn't distorted. I tried doing Silent Night through my Octafuzz, but it just wasn't the same. ;)
  • Blue Cajan -
    Thanks for the post and I’m glad you are enjoying that arrangement. As far as your boy- I remember as a young boy hearing Paul Motion and I wondered why he “couldn’t keep a beat” like the "better" drummer on "In a Gadda Da Vida"! ... Give him some time ha ha!
  • Too funny, Jim. Hopefully my son will learn about Paul Motian sooner than later. I bought him an electronic drum set (electronic to start for our sanity) for Christmas, and he loves it. I would have preferred starting him on piano or guitar, but he is totally fascinated by drums. And I think we all have a type of musical instrument calling our names. So why fight it?
  • Ok. So, I have an update I hope is useful. If you read earlier I did a few lessons by mail and thought I had them down. In my living room at least. Then, I thought I'd go to a jam night. I did and I choked and sucked. Bad. It was embarrassing. So I went back to the drawing board and went through the lessons again. It made so much more sense on the second, third and fourth run through. The lessons are dense! Playing through changes is, for me at least, different when you're with a live band when compared to your home looper that is always playing the same thing. My message to anyone who has the lessons I spoke about earlier is to revisit them after a while. i found there was a lot I'd missed the first time through.
  • As the great Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges once said: "Rereading, Not Reading, Is What Counts".

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