Scuttle Buttin main phrase

Does anyone have insight into how SRV picks this main phrase? I can’t find a good YT video to show if he is alt picking those first 5 notes or doing some sort of sweep.

Hi, used to play this tune; I’m a bit rusty on SRV these days and my current 8-46 string gauge doesn’t help that I haven’t been keeping up with these tunes.

Uploaded this one for you, hope it helps!
Not sure if it’s alt picked, etc. This is how I did it, right or wrong :slight_smile:

Here’s it with a thumb pick, days before CTC afflicted me :sweat_smile:

“To give you an idea, try playing the lead-in bar by picking the first bent note and then pulling the B and E strings with your RH middle and ring fingers respectively. Then, pick the slide D-E and pluck the next E note with your middle finger (or you could use your middle finger solely for the E string and pick the rest…). Be sure to observe the staccato (CO) markings on the chordal stabs (bars 1,3,5, etc), for full rhythm effect.”

Gutherie Govan, Guitar Techniques September 1997.

Thanks for uploading those - the second video (with the thumb pic) is really close to the SRV ‘effortless bounce’ he seems to get (both studio and live recordings). I can alternate pick it…but it feels like the speed tops out…it’s one note per string, 16ths at 160bpm…even for a short phrase, it’s pretty fast.

I have a hunch he picks it something like this (see pic)…but can’t find good evidence to ‘support my hypothesis’.

InkedScuttle Buttin with rake

You’ll get it with practice. It took me 4 months a decade ago to blaze though it with a regular pick. I’m sure I’ll be able to get it back in a day or two if I work with it. It’s the sring gauge thats throwing me off here.

Doing it with a thumb pick was just fun as I was totally into Gatton at the time.

I don’t think there’s a sweep but I could be wrong.

The hardest part was getting the last note in on time. Ironically I’m struggling with the Trilogy suite riff’s last note, there’s a theme here :woozy_face::grin:

That’s the detail I’m looking to investigate. I can play it - I learned it 20+ years ago - it just doesn’t have the ‘easy rhythmic bounce’ that SRV gets - when I do it with a pick. All his other signature licks I can get into the groove of…he’s also known to rake quite a bit for short phrases. It work’s great with fingers in the way that @NTC mentioned…but…something tells me SRV didn’t hybrid pick this.

YouTube was surprisingly short on decent quality shots of his right hand when playing that opening phrase. I may learn it with the rakes I suspect are in there…but…would love to just know what SRV did himself.

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Heare a take from not tok far back, still, I could do better earlier. I’m using rha same picking as in the first clip.

I’d love to check some good footage too. Let us know if you come across any.


This looks picked.

It’s always fun trying to take something in hybrid picking and then try to figure out how I could pick it with only the pick.

On the album version the main lick is changed slightly a number of ways. If I stick to regular tuning, the lick starting on the G string is either a slide, a half step bend or a whole step bend. The B, E, B is always present on the album version. The next note on the B string is either a slide or a whole step bend. The next note is an open E. The next two notes on the B string can either be a pull off or can be picked. Then on the G string either a slide with a pull off, a slide with a picked note, a pre-bend with a pull off, or a slide with a muted note on the open string. And then the E note on the D string, which can sometimes be an open G string note instead of the E on the D string.



I agree - no rake on those first three notes in this video. Damn he’s smooth.

There’s some interesting things going on in the 1985 Live From Montreux footage, for sure.

  • He plays the start with a slide as opposed to a bend.
  • He ends the phrase on the low E with an upstroke.
  • It looks like he’s sliding to play the A, Bb, A and then pulling-off to sound the G (3rd string). He may even hammer from nowhere to play the E on the 4th string, as I cannot see him pick anything from the first downstroke at the beginning (A) to the upstroke for the low E in that part of the lick.
  • His technique uses both double upstokes and double downstrokes, but no faster than 8th notes. This can be observed during the 2nd and 4th bars, and with the first two notes of the 3rd bar.

The entire picking strategy seems rather odd (imo), but it really looks to me like he’s playing something like this for the first four bars:

Ben Eller had a lesson on this some years ago

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Uncle Ben’s sliding makes a difference…that might be key here in finding the sound I’m going for…I’ve been focused on the right hand. Thanks for that.

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Slide or a bend is obvious :joy:
Good luck.

Stevie nearly always played that half-step thing on the G string with slides and pull-offs as has been mentioned above. Took me a while to figure that out.

The guy from Texas Blues Alley on YouTube explains the really tricky part here-basically the same as Guthrie Govan explained it…

My band and I played “Scuttle Buttin’” at my senior high school talent show in 1990…back then I followed the Andy Aledort transcription that was in Guitar For The Practicing Musician which was wrong. I used straight picking then, but both Guthrie Govan and this Texas Blues Alley guy have it right.


This is great. Very specific. Glad I’m not the only one that never felt like I could make it ‘sit’.


Damn, that 4k video enhancing looks great looking at the videos directly on his YouTube channel! Maybe we could get the same process done for videos where the quality is lacking, e.g., Shawn Lane’s Power Licks/Solos? :face_with_monocle:


Paul Davids made a great video on this song a couple of days ago that offers some more insight on the live versions compared to the studio recording. :slightly_smiling_face:


That bend thing, Greg Kotch had a paid DVD lesson on SRV, he did it the same way.

This was a great video from PD as usual. I’m going for it slowed down and I think the descending phrase (right before the open low E string) on the G string is ‘wrong’ (loose term for this song). I hear that string starting on the A note (second fret) followed by a bend and release (to Bb) then pull off (sorta like Voodoo Chile)…where PD suggests it goes to Bb, then pull to A and pull to open G. My reference is the very first time it happens in the studio recording as he used.

What works pretty well for me is to play two first notes of the main phrase with upstrokes.
It is also extremely important to keep picking hand relaxed.
Well… no more words. See the video and tab below.