Practice Log #4
The "Pretty Woman" lick, played 4 different ways
Print-friendly version of this lesson
For a print-ready PDF of this lesson, become a supporter on my Patreon page. For a few bucks a month, you get access to PDFs of all my new lessons.
I just saw “A Star is Born” (the 2018 version), which features a quick scene with “Oh, Pretty Woman” being played at a Roy Orbison tribute within the movie. This very distinctive riff gets the spotlight for a crucial scene, and at once I knew I had to learn how to play it. It didn’t take me long to uncover a few different approaches to the riff that different online teachers suggested. Even though all the approaches played the same notes, they differed when it came to the frets, fingers, and strings played to make it all happen. Over the practice session that followed, I played this riff in a few different ways – working with what was suggested, pulling certain versions apart, putting other versions together. Here’s my notes from that session, showing the different ways to play it. Each of these has something to teach us, and depending on your goal I hope some (or all) of these are helpful if you’d like to play the riff too.
Exercise 1: Easiest possible way to play the riff
Let’s start simple. Here, we’re going to utilize the open strings as much as possible (i.e., the strings where no fret is pressed down). You’ll only need your left index (2nd fret) and left ring finger (4th fret) for this exercise. This keeps things easy! I would guess that many advanced players would pass this version by, since the open strings don’t give you a lot to work with when it comes to the nuanced “sound” of the riff (when it comes to bends, slides, muting, etc). See the exercises below to learn what I mean here.
E ––––––––––––– E ––––––––––––––––––– B ––––––––––––– B ––––––––––––––––––– G ––––––––––––– G ––––––––––––––––––– D ––––––––––0–– x2 D ––––––––––0–4–2–0–– ...repeat A ––––––––2–––– A ––––––––2–––––––––– E ––0–0–4–––––– E ––0–0–4––––––––––––
Exercise 2: Getting the pinky involved
This version forsakes the open 4th string, replacing it with the 5th fret of the 5th string (played with the pinky). The difficulty here is turned up quite a bit, as the pinky coordination can be hard to muster! But this is a great exercise to strength your pinky, as well as work on its dexterity and flexibility. Also, I found the overall “sound” of this version (and the versions below) to be much more consistent, given that we’ve gotten rid of the open 4th string - which has a different quality-of-sound than the fretted notes surrounding it.
E ––––––––––––– E ––––––––––––––––––– B ––––––––––––– B ––––––––––––––––––– G ––––––––––––– G ––––––––––––––––––– D ––––––––––––– x2 D ––––––––––––4–2–––– ...repeat A ––––––––2–5–– A ––––––––2–5–––––5–– E ––0–0–4–––––– E ––0–0–4––––––––––––
Exercise 3: Moving up the fretboard
In this version, we’re going to move things between the 4th and 7th frets. This version moves the tough stretch over to our index finger (which has to hit the 4th fret of the 6th and 4th string). We’re still using our pinky, but the stretch is a bit more natural in my opinion. Try this version along side exercise #2, and pay attention to the different feelings they have (when it comes to your fingers stretching, etc).
E ––––––––––––– E ––––––––––––––––––– B ––––––––––––– B ––––––––––––––––––– G ––––––––––––– G ––––––––––––––––––– D ––––––––––––– x2 D ––––––––––––4–––––– ...repeat A ––––––––––5–– A ––––––––––5–––7–5–– E ––0–0–4–7–––– E ––0–0–4–7––––––––––
Exercise 4: Adding as many slides as possible
This one combines some of the phrases from exercise #2 and #3 – and does so in a way where three of the notes within the riff are “slid” into. This creates a very distinct effect, making things sound a bit more elegant and complex (but you don’t want to overdo it). Note that this comes with an extra degree of difficulty. For one, you’ll need to adjust the left hand fingers-you-use slightly from the prior exercises (see my video for reference) – this is so you can execute each slide while setting your fingers up to perform the slides that come afterwards. It can be tricky to learn, but at the same time very rewarding if you can master it.
E ––––––––––––––– E –––––––––––––––––––––– B ––––––––––––––– B –––––––––––––––––––––– G ––––––––––––––– G –––––––––––––––––––––– D ––––––––––––––– x2 D ––––––––––––––4––––––– ...repeat A –––––––––2–/5–– A –––––––––2–/5–––/7–5–– E ––0–0–/4––––––– E ––0–0–/4––––––––––––––
The main takeaway here: there can be multiple valid ways to play any song. Don’t think of these are “right” or “wrong” in an absolute sense. Instead, understand that each version offers different opportunities! What worked for the composer (when they wrote the song) may not be a match for you, given equipment or skill level or anything else. Play the version that makes sense depending on your goal, and you’ll be in good shape.
Enjoy this lesson? Buy me a beer!
If this and my other lessons have proven helpful to you, please consider donating to my tip jar. Contributions of any amount help make this project possible (including the many, many hours I put into it). Thanks!
Subscribe to my YouTube channel
Be sure to never miss a lesson by subscribing on YouTube. I put out 2-3 new videos every week. These include full song lessons, as well as covers, practice tips, behind-the-scenes updates. Thanks!
Recent video lessons:
📝 Print-friendly PDFs now available for all new lessons I make, including all those listed below. Get a free sample »
- How I change my acoustic guitar strings
May 19, 2019
- "My Old Kentucky Home, Goodnight" (fingerstyle intro) by John Prine
May 17, 2019
- Outlaw fingerstyle warmup ("Sleeping on the Blacktop") by Colter Wall
May 11, 2019
- First Call (horse racing / military bugle wake-up call)
May 4, 2019
- Imagine by John Lennon
May 2, 2019
- Jenny of Oldstones from Game of Thrones
Apr 23, 2019
- Wildflowers by Tom Petty
Apr 20, 2019
- Breezy strumming on E-Bsus4-Asus2 (Warm Up #18)
Apr 18, 2019
- How I composed a fingerstyle guitar arrangement (Practice Log #12)
Apr 13, 2019
- If I Had a Boat by Lyle Lovett
Apr 10, 2019
- Triad exercises w/ A, D, & E (Warm Up #17)
Mar 30, 2019
- Travis picking finger technique (Practice Log #11)
Mar 22, 2019
- Let Him Roll by Guy Clark
Mar 17, 2019
- Plush by Stone Temple Pilots
Mar 15, 2019
- Under the Bridge by Red Hot Chili Peppers
Mar 9, 2019
- Adding flourish to C-F-G-Am
Mar 7, 2019
- The Gambler by Kenny Rogers
Mar 3, 2019
- Always Remember Us This Way from A Star is Born
Feb 28, 2019
- Cowboy chords & walking bass lines (Warm Up #16)
Feb 23, 2019
- Improv blues guitar in A-minor
Feb 21, 2019
- St James Infirmary Blues
Feb 16, 2019
- Barre chord strength & Smells Like Teen Spirit (Warm Up #15)
Feb 14, 2019
- Faking open chords in key of D w/ major & minor triads (Warm Up #14)
Feb 10, 2019
Monthly email updates
If you want to keep posted of new lessons over email, sign up for my newsletter. I'll email once a month with a digest of all my new videos. I promise: no spam.