Don't Be Cruel Cover by dobleaA

This is where I’m with my Elvis Presley’s Don’t Be Cruel cover. There is still plenty of room for improvement, but I’m satisfied with the current progress. This catchy tune looks easy, but playing it with good dynamics has been a challenge for me. It is the only song of a 50s rock songbook that I have that I’ve been able to play. I had the songbook already before starting Justinguitar lessons and sometimes played the song with better success than others. When I was doing my goals setting I thought this song would be a good option for augmenting my repertoire, applying some concepts learnt during the beginner course and taking it to the next level.

The strumming pattern suggested by the songbook is Old Faithfull ending with an up strum (DDUUDU). Playing this pattern at 161 b.p.m. and singing lyrics that starts and ends wherever in the bar fits better is beyond my current skills. So I decided to use the straight eights (DUDUDUDU) strumming pattern that Justin and another online instructor suggest. I had played the song before with all downs but I like more the fuller sound of strumming straight eights. Despite the fuller sound, playing 6 bars of D (2 at the end of a verse and 4 at the beginning of the next) with all downs or with straight eights can sound dull without the King singing, Scotty Moore playing guitar and the three backing vocals guys behind me. So I started to look for options to enrich the sound.

I wanted to play a riff for the intro but it is not as easy as it looks in the video I had seen. At some point I thought I was needing a new guitar for that intro, but after many tries, I started to once in a while get a sound that lightly resembles the one in the video. As upping my technique for the riff would not be a short term achievable goal, I put the riff on hold and replaced it whith using a DDDUDU strumming pattern for the intro and straight eights for the rest of song. That solved for me the first seven bars of D (three of the intro and four of the verse. I tried to handle the other dull prone sections with going up with the strumming volume in the bridge and lowering when coming back to the verse. I think this take three of the day was the best in relation to dynamics and background noise (my wife was watching news in Spanish in an adjoining room).

I added some weekday song practice time and practiced the song in different ways: singing it from memory, outside my guitar practice time, without playing; playing the guitar without looking at the lyrics or singing, just to my notes about the structure and the bar count for each chord, alternating not listening to the original record and listening to it; and finally playing and singing together, looking at the lyrics with the chords, but without listening to the record.

Although I did couple of mistakes in this take and sound can be enriched further, I think I can start reducing practice time for this song and allocate the spare practice time to work on another song to develop different skills.

I did some adjustments to the sound using some of the tools that Dolby On, the app I use for recording, provides. I changed style from Standard to Amped, rised the mids, and applied a negative boost to correct some distortion (maybe the cell phone too close).

Now to put the record straight here is a short audio of where I was two weeks ago with this song.

Don’t Be Cruel Cover 2022-05-14 (Sample)


Well played, Andrés, I enjoyed that and could recognise that Elvis vibe.

I think you have the song learned and can play and sing smoothly through it. As you said in in your excellent write-up, next is to develop more accents and variation, to give the whole performance better feel and vibe. Far easier said than done.

While perhaps everybody may be familiar with Elvis, whether or not they enjoy him, Scotty Moore may be less well known. And for us here in the Community learning to play guitar, he is an exceptional and influential player well worth listening to.

Good job Andrés, you’ve got all the bases covered and will surely progress.

Thanks for sharing @dobleA. Great story about how you progressed the song too. Singing and playing at the same time is hard!

Good stuff Andrés. Your write up covers all the points so you already know what to work at.
I’d also have a look at your vocal phrasing. I felt you were coming in too early with some of the lyrics.

Keep up the good work and I look forward to your next one.

1 Like

Well done! Enjoyed listening thanks. I like your commentary around dynamics and rhythmic interest and practice approaches. :smiley:

@DavidP Thank you David for listening (and reading). Good that Elvis vibe could be recognisable. You said easier said than done for any development of the sound and that’s true; any improvement will take deliberate practice and won’t come easy (said that, and It Don’t Come Easy started sounding in my head, I have to listen it).

@batwoman Thank you Maggie for listening (and reading). At least I have a plan and the willingness to follow it. Progress should come with work and patience.

@jkahn Thank you JK for listening (and reading). Yes playing and singing at the same time is hard. Being hard does not mean less pleasant or satisfying; just mean more complex. Part of the breathing needed for singing is taken away to play the guitar and part of the brain needed to play the guitar is taken by when and how to phrase the lyrics and the opposite.

@sairfingers Thank you Gordon for listening (and reading). I will take a look at the phrasing. As I think Justin would say, I’m still thinking too much and if you think too much you don’t play (and I would say sing) so well (he uses a more direct to the heart expression). So I still have to think, here I have to start the phrase in the third beat of the bar, here in the fourth beat, while trying to keep the rhythm. Thank you for your comment.

@grayal Thank you Al for listening (and reading). My interest in the dynamics is about how a person like Justin can, or the late teacher I had in my youth could, play a few bars and instantly sound like rock’n’roll or country or other styles, while if I do it is going to sound like four downs or whatever RUST X pattern and not instantly like music. The purpose of the write up is that, just to provide the opportunity to receive advise and exchange information about how each one is approaching, had approached or would approach his guitar learning and each one can take whatever he or she thinks is useful for himself or herself.


That was very well done Andrés. Nice strumming and chord changes, tidy vocals too.

For me it was just missing some of those famous Elvis hips. :smiley:

Thank you Stefan for listening (and reading). I am not into an Elvis style stage performance yet.

Hi Andrés,
Good and clear rhythm guitar and a clear path, have fun with it :sunglasses:

Thank you Rogier for listening (and reading). I’m having fun with it.