Swing Guitar - Lesson 1

Mike Dowling

Lesson One: Rhythm's Where It's At!

90-minute video, includes music and chords on pdf file
  • Code:DLDOWSW21
  • Skill Level:Early Intermediate (3)

Here's a fabulous guitar lesson that will give you all the tools you'll need to become a great rhythm guitarist! Veteran player Mike Dowling demonstrates, clearly and simply, the techniques that put him in high demand as sideman for such legendary players as Joe Venuti, Jethro Burns and Vassar Clements.

Using swing blues as a starting point, Mike covers the basics of chord substitution, rhythm vamps, 10th chords, diminished chords, jump-style syncopations and funky 9th chord blues. He takes a close look at the often-overlooked right hand and introduces the vocabulary of classic swing chords that are guaranteed to add punch and style to your playing.

Mike spends a considerable amount of time on techniques that are designed to help you capture that elusive quality called "swing." He teaches Sheik of Araby and Beaumont Rag, and spends ample demonstration time taking the mystery out of the famous and important Rhythm Changes.

Ably assisted by renowned Nashville fiddler Buddy Spicher and acoustic bassist Chris Enghauser, Mike uses the trio format to showcase the power of rhythm guitar in an ensemble setting.

In 1975, master fiddler Vassar Clements heard Mike Dowling play swing guitar and hired him for his first touring band. Since then, Mike, who refined his technique under the tutelage of the great George Barnes, has gone from accomplished sideman and session player to solo artist and composer of amazing versatility. Mike's Homespun DVD "Bottleneck Blues & Beyond" shows that he is an especially effective teacher as well as a superb guitarist.

About Swing Guitar

In 1932, Duke Ellington recorded his classic, It Don't Mean A Thing (If It Aint Got That Swing) and officially added a new word to the lexicon of American music. But jazz musicians had been swinging long before the style had a label and "swing" could just as easily have been used to describe the bounce that guitarists Lonnie Johnson and Eddie Lang captured a decade earlier when they recorded Handful of Riffs.

What makes music swing? Stated most simply, it's the effect one gets by playing a basic four to the bar meter with accents on the 2nd and 4th beats. But more than that, it's a feeling and when swing emerged as popular music in the 1930's no instrument was better suited to express the feeling than a guitar. From rhythm giants like Freddie Green to the refined sounds of Charlie Christian or Oscar Moore; from Django's Maccaferri to Oscar Aleman's tri-cone or Eldon Shamblin's Strat-in the right hands, nothing swings like a guitar.


Joe Brodnicki 4 years, 8 months ago

I have several audio/video lessons on learning swing guitar and I've concluded there's no easy way to teach or learn this stuff. It's not terribly linear, there are a lot of techniques and chords, and a lot of this is intuitive. There's a lot to it and it's a slow process. Having said that, there's a lot here and I believe if I'm willing to take the time and effort to learn it and experiment, this video has things well broken down (not to much at once) and an incredible amount of content that is well-presented. I think that I just need to remind myself to relax and do my technique and strength building exercises. This is good stuff and Mike takes the time demonstrate and explain.

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