Review: TrueFire’s 335 Blues with Larry Carlton

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335_boxsetTruefire’s master class “335 Blues” is Larry Carlton’s first instructional DVD in twenty years.  But don’t let that gap make you think Mr. 335 instructional ability is rusty or lacking.  I’ve been disappointed before with instructional DVDs before and found they can sometimes be difficult to use and tab booklets that were inaccurate compared to what the musician was playing.  Not true with Truefire.

I was impressed at the quality of the instruction from Larry Carlton who provides key insights and advice for each lesson in the collection – both from a rhythm and lead perspective as well as practice tips and tone advice.

Truefire definitely has some experience in creating instructional content for your computer.  They provide a video player with key features like ability to loop video sections, slow parts down and zooming for close up looks at the guitar player’s hands.  One problem I had with the player was it’s size – the default size is pretty small.  Turns out you can increase the size of the player by going to “View” then “Show All” and dragging the window larger.  Good to know.

Also you can greatly increase the performance of the player and video if you copy the DVD to your hard drive and run it from there.  By doing this I was able to get a much better response out of the video when I paused or looped sections.

Larry giving you the inside scoop

Larry lays down the rules of the blues

The breadth and depth of content provided in Larry Carlton’s 335 Blues is excellent.  Included are 4 DVDs with 80 video lessons, practice rhythm tracks, PDFs with the standard and tab notation.  Truefire even includes Power Tab versions of the music for those on Windows.  If you’re a Mac user like me, you can use TabEdit to view the Power Tab files.  A quick side note – TabEdit costs $60 USD.  I found the PDFs to be just fine for the lessons.

The first two DVDs comprise the lessons with all the tabs and videos of Larry playing the pieces.  The lessons are very accessible and playable for intermediate and advanced students.  I’d even say some beginners could start with some of the lessons on DVD 1 and grow into some of the other parts.  Larry provides a nice variety of blues styles from shuffles and funk to jazzy and minor blues.

DVD 3 focuses more on technique.  Larry gives instructions on string bending, vibrato and advice to guitar players about practice habits.  My favorite is “Practice what you must, play what you love.”  It’s about creating a balance between the discipline of sitting down and learning and allowing ourselves the freedom to just rock out.  DVD 4 has a collection of videos that appear to be from a talk Larry gave to a group of students.  Topics range from amps and finding the sweet spot to discussing his studio work with Steely Dan in the 1970s.

Larry giving a talk on tone

Larry giving a talk on tone

Overall I thought it was a great set of instructional DVDs that’s a must-have for any Larry Carlton fan and a great asset for any blues fan.  Pricing for the DVD set seems to be a bit high at $100 for the 4 DVD set but Truefire offers a money-back guarantee if you’re disappointed with the product.  Hard to beat that. Overall Fretbase definitely recommends Larry Carlton’s 335 Blues.

If you want to get a sample of the videos and content head over to Truefire’s website.  You can view some of the videos on Truefire TV. If you had experiences with this DVD set or with any Truefire’s products – let us know in the comments.

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  1. Ralph

    Thanks for posting this review. I’ve been thinking about trying Truefire out to see how their lessons go. But I agree that it does seem a bit pricey.