The Woodshed

How to play Jerry Reed’s “Guitar Man”

1

Does anybody know what tuning Jerry used for the recording. I found a video of him playing it on YouTube so that helps with the fingerings. Yet, I don't think it's in standard tuning. Any help would be great. Thanks.

2

Paging Mr. Taffy. White courtesy phone please.

3

From the Peter Guralnik Elvis Book: "See I had my own tuning, and they were trying to record guitar man and they couldnt make it feel like my record " - "So they called me and I went down, and I hooked up that electric gut string, tuned the B string up a whole tone, and I toned the low E-string down a whole tone, so I could bar straight across, and as soon as we hit the intro, you could see Elvis' eyes light up - he knew we had it." Jerry Reed

4

Hoosier I've worked out quite a few of Jerry's tunes (thanks Ric for the recommendation), but this is one I haven't as yet. You can do no better than check out Phil Hunt's videos on this tune as he goes through it very well. In the first video he explains the tuning and goes through the intro slowly so you can understand what's going on. In the second he plays through the backing for the track so you can watch it and hopefully pick up what he's doing. If you're a flat picker then you have no chance but if you're a fingerpicker then you'll know what's involved. In the early days Jerry would tune his guitar a half tone down from regular tuning to get more snap when he played and help with the vocals. If you play a nylon string then you'll feel and hear the difference. And then to confound it all he would use altered tunings on top of being a half step down to help finger the notes he wanted to play. It's no wonder Elvis' backing guitarist at the time he recorded it had no idea how to get it to sound like Jerry's version.

Here's Phil's videos.

Phil has a lot of videos of Jerry's tunes posted so check them all out. I always enjoy watching them.

5

Phil Hunt was one of Paul Yandell's favorite pickers.

7

Dang, he is young there. Why is the guy behind him holding a string in his strumming hand?

8

Don't know his name, but it looks like he broke a string right before they went into this song.

Duane had a Gibson gut string like Jerry is playing. Had a pickup and a great sound. Tiny Timbrell found it for him, back in the Valley Arts days in the Valley. (Lo those many years ago.)

9

Don't know his name, but it looks like he broke a string right before they went into this song.

Duane had a Gibson gut string like Jerry is playing. Had a pickup and a great sound. Tiny Timbrell found it for him, back in the Valley Arts days in the Valley. (Lo those many years ago.)

– Deed Eddy

That's Nashville session guitarist Jimmy Wilkerson. His son Jason has a You Tube channel with some great examples of his dad's playing. Very good guitarist.


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