I need blues help!

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by droptune, Feb 27, 2012.

  1. droptune

    droptune Member

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    I have been playing for 30 years. Mostly classical and metal. I have messed around with the blues but never got too serious. I think the reason I never got too serious is because I dont really know what to play. When I play blues it sounds more like shred blues. Pretty much in only 2 positions. Are there any good training dvds that might help? If so, please let me know.
     
  2. Twitchey

    Twitchey Member

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    I love Chicago blues, so my first recommendation is purchase the Willie Dixon Chess records compilation.

    Just listen and enjoy ... copy the licks you like note for note!

    If in doubt which tunes for great guitar playing listen to those with Hubert Sumlin.

    You'll find that the MAJOR pentatonic is just as useful as the minor (which is basically the same shape 3 frets down with accents and bends on different notes).

    Second recommendation is to play with other (well informed) blues musicians. Unfortunately, your local blue jam might not be the best place to seek such musicians out ... :(

    Don't know if this is helpful at all, but it's how I started on the path ...
     
  3. lamenlovinit

    lamenlovinit Member

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    Depends on what style. Chicago electric, or texas electric, I'm assuming you aren't that interested in acoustic.

    Blues you can use is a book with CD that is pretty good. General overview, but useful if you're the kind of person who can connect the dots on your own.

    But what I really recommend is going to used book stores, and buy every blues book you can lay your hands on. Even acoustic ones. Pick and choose what you pick up out of the books.
     
  4. ES350

    ES350 Member

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    Earl Hooker, Jody Williams, Magic Sam, Lurrie Bell, Otis Rush, Hubert Sumlin, T-Bone, Gatemouth Brown, BB, Freddie, etc, etc etc...just listen and soak it up. Slow down, play with a relatively clean tone (guitar-amp-reverb), and work on a good vibrato.
     
  5. wrathfuldeity

    wrathfuldeity Member

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    Start listening to alot of blues, then just play along to get the vibe and melody then improvise;...call and response. Since you been playing metal and classical...loosen up, get a bit sloppy, add the grease. Blues is more loose and slack; compared to a tight classical or shredistic metal. Do more with less...practice 1-3 note riff and try to squeeze all the juice out of it as you can. Like SRV tin pan alley.
     
  6. droptune

    droptune Member

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    I do play acoustic fingerstyle blues but those are songs my dad taught me and I dont know how to expand on them. Or use those licks for electric blues. To pick a style I would say Texas blues. Chicago is a little to happy for me. Maybe stuff like Gary Moore, Greg Koch.
     
  7. Swain

    Swain Member

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    First, I would start listening intently to the various styles and find 1 or 2 you really want to learn. Then, focus on them for a year or two, listening-wise. Vocabulary is key, and you need to become familiar with the Language and the Dialects.

    If it is Electric styles you prefer, then yeah, Willie Dixon is a GREAT suggestion!
    Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, John Lee Hooker, Johnny Winter, Michael Bloomfield, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Elvin Bishop, Michael Burks, Eric Clapton, all good names to look into.

    And Greg Koch has a good DVD called "BLUES" from Hal Leonard. It shows you how to play a Set List worth of classic versions of electric Blues tunes. Learn it front to back.

    Country Blues?

    Stefan Grossman's Guitar Workshop has some great Instructional Materials available.
     
  8. lamenlovinit

    lamenlovinit Member

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    First step is figuring out your sound. Seems like that part is getting fleshed out, which makes the next steps easier!

    Three guys I would highly recommend listening to, and you can do it on youtube, are Freddy King, and Buddy Guy, and lastly Lightnin' Hopkins

    Freddie because he was so smooth. The Texas version of BB without out all the Glam. He's the guy that made guys like Clapton want to play. Clapton played a Les paul early on because he saw Freddie holding one on an album cover. He's to help you put the brakes on the shredding! :rimshot

    Next is Buddy. Now Buddy isn't Texas, BUT anytime SRV wasn't playing like Hendrix, he WAS playing like Buddy.

    Last is Lightnin' for the roots of it all. Now lightnin' broke every rule there was anytime he wanted to, so you aren't going to schooled on structure and patterns, but you will get raw blues. His use of soundhole pickups on acoustics and just a touch of distortion from a cranked fender amp is a thing of beauty.

    Just some suggestions. Go on Youtube, check out Freddie's soul, Buddy's licks, and lightnin', well, just being lightnin' :cool:

    There are probably lessons on youtube too. Just search Freddie King lesson, Buddy lesson, etc.
     
  9. corn husk bag

    corn husk bag Silver Supporting Member

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  10. flavaham

    flavaham Member

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    If you are coming from a metal background, I'd say one of the first things to do is try NOT to play. So much about the blues is expression and emotion. You want one note to really say something. Slight bends and deliberate vibrato will almost always sound better than a flurry of notes in blues. There are exceptions, but seriously, this is a style where the things that you don't play can sometimes speak louder than the ones you do.

    Kind of vague I know, but seriously, you probably want to trim some of those riffs down a bit. For an example of this, just listen to B.B.King. He NEVER played more than he had to.
     
  11. JonR

    JonR Member

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    I echo the recommendations already given, and I'll add Buddy Guy and Albert King.

    If you want a transitional figure from the old acoustic blues to the electric Chicago style, try Big Bill Broonzy - tracks like this:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=suKZ-BtswRo

    When improvising yourself, imagine singing what you're playing. Don't play anything that someone couldn't sing (you'll need to imagine falsetto or a female singer for high register playing). That should help rein in your tendency to shred ;).

    I think I know what you mean by the "happy" sound of Chicago (those mid-tempo swing grooves). But try this:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bfoDms7i1WU
     
  12. FatJeff

    FatJeff Member

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    I'll echo what a lot of others have said: just start listening to a lot of blues. After 6 months or a year or so of this (yes, it takes that long), it will start to come out in your playing. You said yourself that you play primarily metal and classical, and that when you solo, it sounds like metal. There's a reason for that.

    This is the way I've learned to start getting jazz sounds into my playing. I don't listen to anything else. Immersion and time-exposure seems to be the key.

    Also, transcribe. Commit a blues solo to heart; be able to sing along with it verbatim. The way I do this is to rip a solo to CD about 50 times in a row and pop it into my CD player in my car. I sing along to it on my way to and from work, for about a week, until I've got it completely memorized...not just the notes, but all the inflections, articulations, all the hidden stuff.

    Then figure out how to play it on the guitar. Write it down if you want to (using whatever method you like...for jazz I use standard notation, but tabs are fine if that's easier for you). Then extract some of the best parts of the solo and work those licks/riffs in several places on the fretboard, in as many keys as you can (for blues guitar, that would probably be E, A, D, G, maybe C). When you internalize solos to this degree you can't help but start having it come out in your own solos.

    Also, this DVD is good: http://www.amazon.com/Ronnie-Earl-B...1_4?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1330438277&sr=1-4
     
  13. Axis29

    Axis29 Supporting Member

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    I cannot begin to reiterate enough that listening to the Blues is the most important part of the equation! If you do not know the sounds, you will never have them internalized and never be able to pull them out while playing.

    Just like i cannot begin to play Metal and have a very tough time doing Country... let's not even think about Classical! LOL. I don't listen to that music and any attempt I make at it is a total reach.

    But, I hear blues (it really is all I listen to and the majority of what I've listened to for 35+ years) in my head.

    Blues is truly about feeling and feeling the rhythm. So much can be expressed through blues music, that it's not just knowing the correct notes to play. I know plenty of folks who know the licks, but never feel it and therefore sound tight and square.

    Making space in your playing; playing behind the beat; limiting the note choices; following the changes, without sticking straight to arpeggios; these all have their places... but without the internal knowledge of the blues feel and sound, it just won't come out in your playing.

    with 30 years of playing, you're probably pretty good at playing what you hear, yeah? But still,, there will be some stumbles when the move to the next note is not automatic for your fingers... that muscle memory thing. Again, once you internalize the blues, I bet it will flow.


    Welcome aboard the Blues train. Most folks think it's easier to play blues when it can be more difficult than many other styles... But so very rewarding!
     
  14. lamenlovinit

    lamenlovinit Member

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    Sort of in the same boat. I play acoustic mostly, and at this point, I can "improvise" full on songs of any duration, with full thumb/finger orchestration.

    Not because I'm the best guitar player, but because once you "get it" a light goes on. You notice that the individual notes you are fingering in a bar are really a D7 chord, and you can hit any "right note" in that chord, and you can alter the picking pattern, or the groove to suit your mood. And you get to the point where those choices are made on what you want to hear, not just what comes up semi-randomly, because a 2 or 3 note riff CAN be the theme in a song.

    The funny thing is that "vision" has transferred over to learning Hawaiian Slack Key guitar. I don't have the vocabulary to build my own songs. Probably won't ever as at some point you just don't have enough available time to do everything you want to do. But on the songs I know, I can spin through endless variations and not loose the melody or groove.

    It's all about understanding that in so called "primitive" music it was supposed to be inclusive. Everyone is supposed to know what's coming next so they can participate in whatever way they choose. Once you get that, and stop worrying about what's coming next, the doors open for you to really see what's going on. Things like metal and progrock are more about surprise and drama. And I say that being a former Metal club band guy through late 70s and 80s. I love that stuff. It's not a slam.
     
  15. Papajoe

    Papajoe Member

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    All good advice for sure. There are many paths into the blues especially if you live them, but most of us don't live them past our CD and DVD collections, so there needs to be a striking and immediate attraction that grabs you. It could be that one tune you hear that compels you to find out "who is that?",

    There are so many influences, that it's an acquired taste. Not everyone can listen to Robert Johnson and say " I love that stuff" Once you're in though, it owns you.

    Since you're coming from "Metal" I would suggest Hendrix's "Blues" CD or Robin Trower's "Someday Blues" CD. Why? Because they're more immediately relateable to a high volume power player. Trying to jump in to Dixon, or Waters or the Kings (except Albert) can be tough. Yes, SRV for sure, especially the early stuff. And Live Cream vol 1. are also great places to start. Working your way back to to the early masters as influences is the natural progression, well to me anyway.

    Personally I love Texas blues and my latest guitar hero from that genre is Smokin' Joe Kubek. His last CD "Have Blues Will Travel" is a must have.

    He just released a Hal Leonard instructional book / DVD combo that includes licks / riffs / turnarounds / rhythm /slide / etc. with a regular and slow speed explanation of each. There are a couple of club videos on YouTube if you want to check him and his partner B'nois King out first.
     

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