Already a modern blues icon at just 22 years old, Christone ‘Kingfish’ Ingram displays a level of musical maturity far beyond her years, playing with tons of dynamics and a delightful tone to boot. It’s clear that Kingfish is well-studied in all the great blues players of previous generations, with a rich vocabulary of fundamental blues language.
But like all the best blues players, Kingfish has a wonderful ear for melody and rhythmic phrasing. He successfully appropriates this language of the blues, with a particular talent for combining major and minor pentatonic phrasing in a way that sounds lyrical, vocal and natural.
Kingfish, from Clarksdale, Mississippi, has already headlined two US tours following his Grammy-nominated self-titled debut album. An amazing achievement for such a young and new artist.
As well as being an accomplished player, Kingfish is an excellent singer and storyteller – all important elements of a successful and relatable artist. During his early years, his unusual appreciation of the early blues music tradition and natural musical talent led him to secure a strong local fan base, even capturing the attention of seasoned pros like Tony Coleman ( BB King).
In our two studies this month, we explore two very important aspects of Kingfish’s sound, his wonderfully mature understanding of combing pentatonic sounds; an unusually sophisticated smoothness for a player his age, and his fantastic control of dynamics and expression.
In study 1 we also get an example of his use of the half-diminished chord form or m7b5, often used by older school bluesmen like T-Bone Walker, to bring out a 9th key. dominant when layered from the 3rd of the chord. . You can hear him using this device on a wide range of his tracks and live performances.
Get the tone
AMP SETTINGS: Gain 7, Bass 4, Middle 7, Treble 5, Reverb 4
Kingfish can be seen using a few different guitars, and also switches between Strats and LP styles. Kingfish also prefers heavy gauge strings, using 11-49s in standard tuning, to give it a wider range of dynamics and a thick, warm sound. He likes clean amps, using higher gain overdrive pedals for his drive sound. Push the mids and keep the gain relatively high for this month’s solos.
Example 1: study 1
This study features Kingfish’s warmer, higher gain blues tone. The tempo is very steady, so be careful not to rush the opening riff, but make it really solid.
It’s counterintuitive, but playing faster lines or riffs is often where guitarists tend to rush – it’s a flaw that’s prevalent in many of us and one we’d do well to overcome.
Example 2: Study 2
This study focuses on dynamics and touch. Play this etude with a rather clean or “on the verge of breaking” tone. Turning the volume control down on an overdriven sound will put you in the right place – it’s a great approach in general, and players from Clapton to Gary Moore and SRV have all used it with flying colors.