This great and influential lick utilizes the “claw” or hybrid-picking style to its fullest. Often associated with tunes like “My Baby Left Me,” “See See Rider” and, of course, “Mystery Train,” this lick has kicked off more jams than probably any other rhythm part in history.
The actual physical properties of the lick are easy to understand, but for some reason the one crucial syncopation that exists within it often throws off many of my students. It’s the fact that on the second part of the pattern, the two fingers that are picking the higher strings actually play their notes just before the alternating bass sounds again.
The alternating bass of the run is what gives it it’s “drive,” while the syncopated higher notes add to the rhythmic complexity of the lick. So, pay close attention because this one can really give you trouble. But when you finally lock in on it, it’s one of the most rewarding and fun sounds to execute on the guitar.
Happy picking!—Arlen Roth