Want to rock out on that acoustic blues guitar like B.B. King or Buddy Guy? Here are some simple blues guitar tips to help you play those sweet, sweet tunes:
Use vibrato to make your music “shake” — When you play blues, a lot of the notes on the guitar are held for a long time thanks to the slower progression. This gives you time to hit the vibrato on the guitar, wiggling the fingers of your left hand to “shake” the music. It adds flair, and it helps to give your music variety.
Bend the notes — “Bending” notes involves pulling on the guitar string once your fingers have struck a note. This stretching of the guitar string raises the pitch, mixing up the sound and giving your music that laid-back blues vibe you can’t help but love.
Check out this cool guitar lesson on BENDING AND VIBRATO
Slide it up and down — To really hit the blues notes, play a bit of slide guitar. When changing between chords, don’t lift your fingers from the fretboard or release the chord. Instead, use bar chords or power chords, and simply slide your fingers up or down the fretboard. It will give it that cool blues sound.
Feel the rhythm — When you’re in your full-on blues vibe, don’t worry about being 100% accurate with your timing. In fact, speeding up and slowing down when striking notes or chords can help to sell the beat. For example, if you hit the melody notes just behind the beat (called backphrasing or rubato), it helps to emphasize those notes. It helps to sell the “devil may care” attitude that makes blues so awesome.
Slur the notes — Instead of plucking the string with your right hand for a second time, let the chord transition happen just with the left hand. This “slurring” is very typical of blues, and it’s a great way to keep the sound relaxed and laid-back.
Hammer on and pull off — Instead of plucking or strumming every note, let your left hand do a lot of the work. For example, if you want to hit a higher note, “hammer on” (strike the string with your finger hard enough to make it resonate). If you want to hit a lower note, “pull off” (slightly pluck the string with your finger as you remove it). It gives a cool sound that will blend nicely with the blues-y vibe.
Acoustic blues guitar playing is all about finding ways to make your music “cool” and “relaxed”, rather than precise and accurate. The tips above will help you hit those notes and chords just right!
If you want to go deeper in blues guitar, I recommend you to check out this: