How To Play Death Letter Blues By The White Stripes On Guitar

Alright, if you read my blog, you probably know that I recently discovered The White Stripes for me. One of their covers, originally composed by Son House, is Death Letter (Blues). Jack White puts his own spin to it and I really like what he did with the tune. So I thought I’d put a little video together on how to play that piece on guitar. Well, for this particular video I actually used my dobro. Of course, Jack White plays it on a number of different electric guitars, but I thought the dobro is a pretty good fit here.

Here is a recap of what you just saw in the video. You can use a number of tunings for Death Letter Blues, I opted for an Open G Tuning (D-G-D-G-B-D). However, Open A for instance works very well, too. Just be careful with the Open A Tuning, because it definitely adds more strain on the neck of your guitar and unless you have a model that is solidly built, stick to the Open G Tuning.

For the opening lick use the low E String and the A String. Hit the A String once (you can also hit the D String alongside with it to add more richness), then bend the E String by a quarter note in the third fret. After that, hit the A String again.

As for the second element, make sure you mute the strings a little bit. This is a little bit trickier than it may sound, because you need to be careful that you don’t damp them too much. Alternate with down- and upstrokes.
As explained in the video, for the little fill I like to use my slide. However, you can also play those notes regularly as shown in the tutorial. Ideally, mix it up a little.

I think the slides into the 5th and 7th fret are self explanatory. Make sure that you play them with a nice punch, it’s got to be loud and dirty. This song doesn’t leave much room for hesitation. And even if you’re off a little bit here and there, it really doesn’t matter, as long as you play it with panache.

The most difficult part is the one I described above, where you need to mute the strings just by the right degree. This part requires some accuracy, so make sure you only hit the strings you really need.

Alright, I hope my little ‘How to play Death Letter Blues by The White Stripes on Guitar’ video tutorial was helpful. Let me know if you have any questions.


Published date: November 16th, 2014 by Ulrich Peise

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