Help me with the blues

mc5nrg

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
9,990
Hate to be the one to break it to you OP, but you just got fired from your job, your woman left you, and your dog just died.died.

Been there, done that. Did see Sam Chatmon at the Smithsonian Folkfest a few decades ago.
 

Axis29

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
3,478
I think most folks have said it already, but I will reinforce a little.

Listen, listen, listen... and then listen some more. Until you can really hear the music, you will only be playing the notes. I honestly believe the only way to learn a genre and become fully versed in it, is to immerse yourself in it.

Then, Play, play, play. Start by playing along with the music you've been listening to. Woodshed as much as you can. Copy what they play some, then just try to make your own sounds... And stop worrying about the form, the theory of it. Listen and play.

Then, take the plunge and play with others. The only way to learn to improvise is to improvise. It sounds like you can hear what's good and bad (or maybe you're just too har don yourself). Just, don't overthink it. Hear it and play it.


I've played for 35+ years and was a home player for most of it. There was a time when I put the guitar down and they gathered dust while I raised a family. At one point I got back into playing, got in a dad-band and goofed around for a little while. One day, I decided I was gonna get serious again. I spent a couple of years, following the plan I laid out above. I did take a few lessons just to add a little theory knowledge. The next thing I knew I was going to jams, then in another band and then hosting jams. A couple years ago, I actually became a professional musician, some mini-tours and some session work... All playing Blues. My deepest dreams come true. I'm still a musical idiot, I have a very rudimentary knowledge of theory and all that stuff. But, I still listen to Blues all the time. And, every chance I get to play with other folks, I jump on it!
 

Wag

Member
Messages
458
Do you have a buddy who plays? If not, find one. Invite the buddy over for some simple and straight I/IV/V jamming. Problem solved.
Right there is the key.

Playing blues is NOT a solo activity. (yea...I know y'all want to pick this apart. In the context of THIS man's question, let's not debate it. Perhaps I should say "LEARNING blues is not a solo activity?")

Not long ago I was in a similar situation. Though I would listen to blues often I just couldn't quite grasp it as a player. Then, a fews years ago I just happen to land in a blues band. Their influence was undeniable.

The point being that the answer wasn't in a book or on the internet because the problem wasn't Information, it was motivation. You stated that you can be highly motivated IF you find a resource you can get excited about. If the books and courses you've already tried didn't motivate you trying another one isn't likely to either. You envision showing up at a jam and being able to swap licks with experienced players. That's a tall order. Robert Johnson had to sell his soul to accomplish that. Lower your expectations....show up at the jam and "learn" a few licks.
 
Last edited:

Ejay

Member
Messages
5,214
Yeah thats not a bad idea. I just found my old BB King King of the Blues box set with matching tab book so maybe the best thing is just go cover to cover...
Im all about learning theory, the neck...etc...but tabs to learn the blues...I dont think so.
Sing along with BBs solos....and work it out on your guitar.
 

ToneDeVille

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
4,746
the best help I can lend is;
someone needs to steal your woman, then you need to do some time in county jail, sleep in a hollow log, drink muddy water, suffer an injustice, and tour the country by boxcar with a 3 legged dog.
 

JonR

Member
Messages
14,881
I stand corrected. :)

But maybe when his dog dies, he'll write a country song and leave the blues behind. There are already worrying signs in this song - it has a bridge, with a secondary dominant for chrissakes... He's already been listening to too much Hank Williams... or even ... jazz?!? :omg :confused::eek::nono

(Hey I love Hank, don't get me wrong.)
 

Bondoguitar

Member
Messages
89
Seems there are plenty of folks on GP here that’ll give you all kinds of advice on how to earn your PHD in jazz improvising, but I guess when you get to that level you can’t see the forest through the trees or even remember the basics of what Blues Guitar is all about. And what is it all about? Bending a note. Doing it in tune, correct duration, vibrato, really there’s so much depth to this one thing, and I myself have much to do in terms of improving this technique.

And the tape recorder never lies, use it
 

silver surfer

Member
Messages
1,864
Playing any music is a revelation of our inner emotions whether it is pure joy or deep sorrow, but I find playing blues in particular allows those emotions to truly come out. I can pick up a guitar and just play a simple blues lick and feel an overwhelming sense of peacefulness or be in the middle of a lead and just dig in hard as some source of inner turmoil pours out. So my point being, let out what comes naturally to you at that moment. As far as technique, besides endless listening and stealing what I liked, I found YouTube lessons to be very helpful in learning some of the finer aspects of blue styles that I like.

I have been in blues bands and have found that during solos - yeah I can start with some flashy licks, but there always seems to be a moment when I forget the crowd and get completely absorbed in the emotions of what I am playing and here's the thing - it is often a more simple lick that is really speaking to me, and the audience picks up on that, and when I snap out of my trance and look up again, there is a real connection being made - and that's the blues.
 

JonR

Member
Messages
14,881
Wait 'til midnight, go down to the crossroads, and your teacher will appear offering you a deal...

The myth is dumb (never mind the fact it isn't true!:rolleyes: ) in the sense that it usually claims he "sold his soul" in exchange for guitar wizardry. When you listen to Robert Johnson you hear true soul in action.

What he sold to the devil - if you want a more poignant and appropriate myth - was his life beyond the age of 30. In exchange he gained guitar skills, but also deeper access to his soul. Without the latter, the skills mean nothing.
 
Messages
9,002
[...] what Blues Guitar is all about. And what is it all about? Bending a note. Doing it in tune, correct duration, vibrato, really there’s so much depth to this one thing, and I myself have much to do in terms of improving this technique.

And the tape recorder never lies, use it
Bending is a technique used in blues. It is not the blues. Rev Gary doesn't bend hardly at all, but I don't think anyone can argue he ain't blues. A lot of Piedmont and other fingerstyle blues don't rely on bending at all.

You're right that accurate bending is vital, if you're gonna bend ... that's the case no matter the genre or style.
 

Rob G

Member
Messages
2,150
I don't have time for in person lessons, but I am a highly motivated student if I find a resource that I am excited about. Any books you loved that were eye opening? Truefire courses? I am open to anything...
I have a course called Blues Soloing: Melodic Chord Tones.

It's a foundry course meaning it wasn't shot in the TrueFire studio like some of my others, but I think you'd find the context helpful.

 

btg

Member
Messages
513
Keith Wyatt’s Artistworks school is a great resource for someone wanting to play blues. He is very responsive and the material he teaches is what you need to know to get out and play with other people
 

Bondoguitar

Member
Messages
89
Bending is a technique used in blues. It is not the blues. Rev Gary doesn't bend hardly at all, but I don't think anyone can argue he ain't blues. A lot of Piedmont and other fingerstyle blues don't rely on bending at all.

You're right that accurate bending is vital, if you're gonna bend ... that's the case no matter the genre or style.
I'm unfamiliar with Rev Gary, I'll check him out....thing is, to me the expressiveness that comes from bending strings, is irreplaceable
 

JonR

Member
Messages
14,881
I'm unfamiliar with Rev Gary, I'll check him out....thing is, to me the expressiveness that comes from bending strings, is irreplaceable
That's because it comes from the vocal style. Guitarists bend notes when they want it to sound like singing. Players like Gary Davis, Blind Blake and so on, come from a more ragtime tradition, copying the sounds of piano players.
Plus, they were mostly playing acoustics with heavy strings - to give them as much volume as possible. If they wanted a more "singing" sound, they'd use a slide.
 




Trending Topics

Top