Best Blues Instructional Material?

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by TimH, Sep 22, 2006.

  1. TimH

    TimH Member

    Mar 2, 2005
    Toronto, ON, Canada
    So I figure that I want to get down to playing some guitar stuff that I like. I've been playing for so long in this pop rock band and at church that I've never really gotten into the blues the way I'd like to. Can people give me some good direction on where to go to brush up on my blues chops? I'd like to start with the classics but move then into incorporating some jazz elements ala Robben Ford and such. I'm only 26 so I figure I've got a lot of learnin' left in me!

  2. drolling

    drolling Member

    Feb 1, 2005
    Playin the blues right is mostly a *feel* thing, as there's only about 5 notes & 3 chords in 99% of the entire genre..

    What's been the most help to me is just listening, immersing myself in the music, then incorporating the stuff that really grabs me into my own stuff. And I'm not just talking about guitarists. I get a lot of inspiration from horn players - both brass & woodwinds. These are the guys who've taught me about phrasing & how to lend a 'vocal' quality to the sound of my single-note playing..

    Couple of tapes that have been discussed here lately might be of interest to you; Warren Haynes' 'Electric Blues & Slide Guitar' and Ronnie Earl's 'Blues Guitar with Soul' - both have been reissued on DVD with some enhancements that are nice, but probably not as useful as they'd be with material that's more 'technique' oriented - Like the half-speed-looping function.

    Both these guys take it nice & slow - it's pretty easy just to play along with them, altho' there are also booklets w/tab & standard notation included.

    The emphasis is on conveying emotion w/your playing thru' dynamics, use of vibrato, etc.. Both these vids are a fun way to lay back & groove on a rainy day..

    ***EDIT**** Just read your post again & remembered that Robben himself has a couple of great videos out - There's actually a seperate book available for one of them that tabs out every single note that he plays.. That one alone's got enough material to keep you busy for a good long while..

    **ANOTHER EDIT*** I've always thought that one of the things that contributes to Robben's soulful sound is the fact that he started out as a sax player.. Playing horn lines is a really good way to make your guitar "breathe"
  3. Jeeves

    Jeeves Member

    Jul 25, 2005
    San Carlos, CA
    I've been working through this book and I think its fantastic:

    There is a guitar version available w/ CD. Its very focused on phrasing instead of just giving a bunch of scales. He starts off with phrases based on the major and minor blues scales and slowly adds additional notes to the scales. But he always gives examples of phrases - and they're cool lines.

    There's no tab though so he's assuming you can read pretty well.

    ymmv but I really like this book.
  4. sosomething

    sosomething Member

    Jan 26, 2004
    In da NAP liss!
    A life of hardship, pain, and disappointment would be a good start.

    You could give away your house and live on the street for a while - you'd get it then, for sure. :)
  5. davess23

    davess23 Member

    Mar 18, 2006
    Swampscott, MA
    Just hook up with the wrong woman and you'll do fine.

    Actually, a good way to go might be to "recreate the journey," by starting out with some of the instructional vids and/or books from Stefan Grossman's Guitar Workshop, stuff that gives you insights the playing styles of guys like Mississippi John Hurt, Blind Blake, etc. Then go on to some of the key acoustic-to-electric evolutionary players, especially T-Bone Walker (Charlie Christian if jazz appeals to you) before you jump to the 3 Kings, Buddy Guy, Hubert Sumlin, Otis Rush, etc. After that, get to their musical children, Jimi, Eric, Mike Bloomfield, Stevie Ray, Robben, Johnny Winter, and the rest.

    If you've got the wrong woman and you soak up the music of all of the above, you ought to end up playing some good blues.
  6. Tomo

    Tomo Member

    Apr 16, 2004
    Boston, Mass
    I know you are asking about instructional dvd...

    Records are most effective way to learn? Stick to 3 records (CDs) at most.

    B.B. King "Live at the Regal" "Blues is King" to start with.

  7. reallylost

    reallylost Member

    Aug 20, 2003
    Northern California

    1. Blues begin with: "Woke up this morning..."

    2. "I got a good woman" is a bad way to begin the Blues unless you
    stick something nasty in the next line like "I got a good woman with
    the meanest face in town."

    3. The Blues is simple. After you get the first line right, repeat it.
    Then find something that rhymes, sort of: "Got a good woman with the
    meanest face in town. Yes, I got a good woman with the meanest face in
    town. Got teeth like Margaret Thatcher, and she weigh 500 pound."

    4. The Blues is not about choice. You stuck in a ditch, you stuck in a
    ditch. There ain't no way out.

    5. Blues cars: Chevys, Fords, Cadillacs and broken-down trucks. Blues
    don't travel in Volvos, BMWs, or SUVs. Most Blues transportation is a
    Greyhound bus or a southbound train. Jet aircraft and state-sponsored
    motor pools ain't even in the running. Walkin' plays a major part in the
    blues lifestyle. So does fixin' to die.

    6. Teenagers can't sing the Blues. They ain't fixin' to die yet. Adults
    sing the Blues. In Blues, "adulthood" means being old enough to get the
    electric chair if you shoot a man in Memphis.

    7. Blues can take place in New York City but not in Hawaii or anyplace
    in Canada. Hard times in Minneapolis or Seattle is probably just
    clinical depression. Chicago, St. Louis, and Kansas City are still
    great places to have the Blues. You cannot have the blues anyplace that
    don't get rain.

    8. A man with male pattern baldness ain't the Blues. A woman with male
    pattern baldness is.

    9. Breaking your leg 'cause you were skiing is not the blues. Breaking
    your leg 'cause a alligator be chomping on it is.

    10. Good places for the Blues:
    a. highway
    b. jailhouse
    c. empty bed
    d. bottom of a whiskey glass

    Bad places for the Blues:
    a. Nordstrom's
    b. gallery openings
    c. Ivy League colleges
    d. golf courses

    11. No one will believe it's the Blues if you wear a suit - 'less you
    you slept in it.

    12. Do you have the right to sing the Blues?
    Yes, if:
    a. you older than dirt
    b. you blind
    c. you shot a man in Memphis
    d. you can't be satisfied

    No, if:
    a. you have all your teeth
    b. you were once blind but now can see
    c. the man in Memphis lived
    d. you have a 401(K) or trust fund

    13. Blues is not a matter of color. It's a matter of bad luck. Tiger
    Woods cannot sing the blues. Sonny Liston could. Ugly white people also
    got a leg up on the blues (my people!).

    14. If you ask for water and your darlin' she give you gasoline, it's
    the Blues. Other acceptable Blues beverages are:
    a. cheap wine
    b. whiskey or bourbon
    c. muddy water
    d. cough syrup

    The following are NOT Blues beverages:
    a. Perrier
    b. Chardonnay
    c. Snapple
    d. Slim Fast

    15. If death occurs in a cheap motel or a shotgun shack, it's a Blues
    death. Stabbed in the back by a jealous lover is another Blues way to
    die. So are the electric chair, substance abuse and dying lonely on a
    broken-down cot. You can't have a Blues death if you die during a tennis
    match or while getting liposuction.

    16. Some Blues names for women:
    a. Sadie
    b. Big Mama
    c. Bessie
    d. Fat River Dumpling

    17. Some Blues names for men:
    a. Willie
    b. Little Willie
    c. Big Willie
    d. Slim Willie

    18. Women with names like Amber, Britney, Tiffany, Debbie and
    Heather can't sing the Blues no matter how many men they shoot in

    19. Inappropriate Blues guitars -
    One cannot play the blues with -
    a. a PRS Dragon
    b. any Floyd Rose-equipped guitar
    c. any guitar with the truss rod cover engraved, "custom made for.."
    d. The Limited Edition "Hummer" Les Paul

    20. Make your own Blues name Starter Kit:
    a. name of physical infirmity (Blind, Cripple, Lame, etc.)
    b. first name (see above) plus name of fruit (Lemon, Lime, etc..)
    c. last name of President (Jefferson, Johnson, Fillmore, etc.)
    Examples: Blind Lime Jefferson, Jackleg Lemon Johnson.

  8. dhodgeh

    dhodgeh Silver Supporting Member

    Dec 6, 2005
    All good advice given here.

    Also check out the "Blues You Can Use" series by John Ganappe (sp?).

  9. reallylost

    reallylost Member

    Aug 20, 2003
    Northern California
    These really are good. There are about 3 or 4 books (do a search on Amazon).
  10. badger6

    badger6 Member

    Jul 13, 2006
    lol reallylost that was the funniest blues blueprint I have ever read.
  11. mkl13

    mkl13 Silver Supporting Member

    Mar 21, 2004
    Funny stuff, thanks.
  12. yZe

    yZe Senior Member

    Jul 29, 2006
    Tampa, on the Territory of Florida (D.C. Free Zone
    Whatever you do, don't ever get that Buddy Guy "teachin' the blues"

    Some of the worst playing and instruction I've ever witnessed in a long time
  13. willhutch

    willhutch Supporting Member

    Feb 1, 2006
    +1 on John Ganapes. "Blues You Can Use", "More Blues You Can Use" and "Jazzin' The Blues" are great books. His explanations and examples are very helpful for putting the concepts to work right away. The downside is the lack of jam tracks.
  14. Swain

    Swain Member

    Oct 2, 2005
    N. Little Rock, AR.
    BLUES GUITAR by HAL LEONARD. It's written by Greg Koch. He shows some actually useful stuff.
  15. azgolfer

    azgolfer Member

    Aug 26, 2005
    One thing - you can be great with just a few phrases. The key is varying those phrases and using space. And playing those phrases VERY well. Not everyone has to be SRV or Johnny Winter.
  16. boldaslove

    boldaslove Member

    Jun 14, 2006
    Fort Lauderdale, Fl.
    I'll second what "Swain" said. The stuff by Greg Kock is good and funny. His dvd's are great and are usually priced cheaper than others.
    He has a newer dvd out titled - "Blues with Greg Kock"
    (a step by step breakdown of the styles and techniques of Albert King,Howlin Wolf, Elmore James, Clapton ect)
    I've watched it a few times and feel it's a great place to start (and to come back to)
    He also has two SRV style dvd's that are what I would go to next......after you absorb Albert King and B.B.....once you get through the SRV discs.....go back to "Blues with Greg Kock"....and learn it again.

    Someone said to stay away from the BB King dvd.....there is one that I feel is a good resource for a player looking to develop a blues's by Hal Leonard - "BB King Signature licks featuring Andy Aledort"....a player of any skill level should be able to put these licks and ideas to use. Not as entertaining as the ones by Greg......but still worth having.

    I have several of the Robben Ford dvd's as well....they are more advanced than the others I have mentioned and are some of the ones I keep going back to. Have fun and do what "Drolling" said.......the horn players have one up on us.....they have to inhale before they can shout out another bar of nonsense. Practice playing while breathing....seriously. Exhale while playing your soon as you're out of air and need to inhale, STOP PLAYING... repeat this process over and over. If you catch yourself playing while inhaling are cheating (cheating yourself of course). If nothing else, this will make you very aware of what you are playing....but more importantly....what you are are NOT playing....much of what I love about my favorite players and blues musicians in general, lies in what they don't play.
  17. DavidS

    DavidS Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2004
    Dallas-Ft Worth
    One of the funniest things I've read. Thanks.
  18. lp144

    lp144 Supporting Member

    Dec 22, 2005
    San Francisco Bay Area
    I've learned a lot from Kenny Blue Ray's tapes:

    Freddie King Styles, 1 hour, VHS

    Blues Mojo, 2 hours, VHS

    All About Albert King, 1 Hour, VHS

    Rhythm Guitar In The Blues, 2 Hours, VHS

    All About Albert Collins, 80 Minutes, VHS

    T-Bone Walker, 1 Hour, VHS

    Beginning Delta Blues (styles of John Lee Hooker, Robert Johnson, and Lightnin' Hopkins), VHS

    Funky video quality and good chops.

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