Blues guitar is key as you develop your skills as a musician. Nearly every genre (rock, metal, country) is an evolved form of blues. They were built upon the foundation that the blues laid down. It is especially necessary if you want to be a rock and roll player.
Before you begin learning the wide range of blues, you must first understand what it is at its core. Blues is pure expression. The instrument playing the licks is either crying, shouting, or feeling sassy. Moreover, because of the sheer amount of licks, progressions, and songs, the blues will keep you busy for a very long time.
So now that you know what blues is, here are some tips to help you learn how to play it.
1. Listening to other blues guitarists is a great way to start. Soothe yourself with some John Mayer, rock out to some Albert King, etc. If you listen to how others play/ed, then you will become familiar with not only how the blues are structured, but how artists handle/d said structure.
2. Learning your pentatonic scale is about the most important thing you can do to help your blues skills. This five-note scale is the chord that every blues player uses. There are many shapes and positions for this scale, so start yourself out with one or two. But as you progress, familiarize yourself with more. Here is an example of the pentatonic scale.
3. Knowing your chords and progressions will greatly enhance the sound of your blues as well. The 12 bar blues is a simple, and effective way to start adding some zing to your guitar. Many progressions and chords are typically only reserved for playing rhythm as opposed to lead. Many would rather just start out playing front and center. But take it from someone who knows, if you start out playing simple rhythms, the lead will come to you much easier and more natural than it would otherwise.
4. Lastly, taking risks is key when playing blues guitar. Blues and jazz alike are very unique in that, if you know the proper scales, you can in turn play pretty much anything you want. So just because a song says to play a certain note, that’s no reason to say that you can’t play a different note. Add your own lib. Make the song your own. Take risks when playing. Most of the greatest blues players did, and look where that got them!
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