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Blues Guitar For Beginners

Learn to play electric blues riffs, chord and rhythms
Instructor:
TrueFire Guitar Lessons
8,404 students enrolled
English [Auto]
Play blues guitar at a beginner level!

If you’ve always wanted to learn how to play electric blues guitar – or even started once or twice in the past only to put it down in frustration – this series of beginner blues guitar lessons is likely the perfect approach for you. Blues Guitar for Beginners is a jump-start method designed to get you up and strumming quickly without having to work through tedious theory, scales and exercises. In fact, you’ll be playing your first batch of cool blues moves in your very first week of working with the course.

Blues Guitar for Beginners is tailored specifically for adults who don’t have the time or desire for formal training. To get you on the fast track, we’ve deliberately steered clear of music theory, reading notation, exercises and scales (there’s plenty of time for all that good stuff later). Instead, you’ll dig in immediately learning how to play blues chords, strums, keeping time and build a vocabulary of bluesy licks.

Longtime TrueFire instructor and blues maven David Hamburger is your extremely capable guide to blues guitar. Hamburger has appeared at Merle Fest and countless other festivals and has performed with Joan Baez, Duke Robillard, and many others. David is a contributing editor to Acoustic Guitar, author of a dozen books, including the award-winning “Beginning Blues Guitar” and has authored many TrueFire courses.

Hamburger starts from scratch, teaching you how to tune, how to hold the pick and how to play your first bluesy notes. David explains every step and breaks each example down so you know exactly what to play and how to play it. He shows you how to strum with downstrokes and upstrokes, how to pick in time and how to get your chords to sound clean, while teaching you a variety of chord progressions and blues-based single-note riffs. On-screen chord diagrams and beat counters help you to stay on track, and jam tracks for each lesson make practicing fun – just play along with David and the practice rhythm tracks. By the end of the course you’ll be learn how to play rhythm and lead blues guitar parts for the Chicago shuffle, Texas shuffle, eight-bar blues, shuffle boogie and even a little 50s R&B.

1
Introduction

If you've always wanted to learn how to play electric blues guitar - or even started once or twice in the past only to put it down in frustration - this series of beginner blues guitar lessons is likely the perfect approach for you. Blues Guitar for Beginners is a jump-start method designed to get you up and strumming quickly without having to work through tedious theory, scales and exercises. In fact, you'll be playing your first batch of cool blues moves in your very first week of working with the course.

2
Parts of the Guitar

It doesn't matter what kind of guitar you use to work your way through this course. The main thing is that the guitar feels comfortable to you when you pick it up, and that it doesn't take a ridiculous amount of effort to fret the notes and chords I'll be showing you as we go along. If you can, ask a friend or a guitar repair tech to check out the setup on your guitar.

3
Tuning Guitar

It doesn't matter what kind of guitar you use to work your way through this course. The main thing is that the guitar feels comfortable to you when you pick it up, and that it doesn't take a ridiculous amount of effort to fret the notes and chords I'll be showing you as we go along. If you can, ask a friend or a guitar repair tech to check out the setup on your guitar.

4
Freting the Strings

Yes, it's true - most of the great bluesmen of the past probably didn't read written notation or talk about their music in terms of sharps and flats or whole notes and half notes. And ultimately you're going to have to learn the most important nuances of how to play the same way they did - by watching other people play and listening closely to records of your favorite musicians. Meanwhile, it won't hurt to soak up a little book learnin'.

5
Beats & Measures

Yes, it's true - most of the great bluesmen of the past probably didn't read written notation or talk about their music in terms of sharps and flats or whole notes and half notes. And ultimately you're going to have to learn the most important nuances of how to play the same way they did - by watching other people play and listening closely to records of your favorite musicians. Meanwhile, it won't hurt to soak up a little book learnin'.

6
Using the Pick

You'll notice different guitar players have different ways of doing things, from how high or low they strap on their guitar to how they hold their pick or strum the strings (all wrist? all arm and shoulder?). There's often more than one way to finger a chord as well, depending on either the musical circumstances, the individual player's preference, or both. The A fingering here makes switching between A and D easier.

7
Down Strokes

You'll notice different guitar players have different ways of doing things, from how high or low they strap on their guitar to how they hold their pick or strum the strings (all wrist? all arm and shoulder?). There's often more than one way to finger a chord as well, depending on either the musical circumstances, the individual player's preference, or both. The A fingering here makes switching between A and D easier.

8
Holding the Pick

If you get deep into your practicing, you may not realize how long you've been hunched over in one position, using the same set of muscles over and over. Be careful! Try to unhunch slowly, rolling back your shoulders and gradually stretching out your arms to the side and loosening up your neck. Otherwise, you might tweak those muscles by moving too quickly and end up with a week's worth of Penguin Neck.

9
First Tune

If you get deep into your practicing, you may not realize how long you've been hunched over in one position, using the same set of muscles over and over. Be careful! Try to unhunch slowly, rolling back your shoulders and gradually stretching out your arms to the side and loosening up your neck. Otherwise, you might tweak those muscles by moving too quickly and end up with a week's worth of Penguin Neck.

10
Playing on the A String: Part 1

A good sense of time is as important to being a good guitarist as a good sense of pitch is to being a good singer. Fortunately, once you start practicing with a click track, jam track or metronome, your newfound awareness of things like beats and bars will lead to you pay more attention to those elements in the music you've always listened to, which in turn will give you a better idea of what you're aiming for in your own playing.

11
Playing on the A String: Part 2

A good sense of time is as important to being a good guitarist as a good sense of pitch is to being a good singer. Fortunately, once you start practicing with a click track, jam track or metronome, your newfound awareness of things like beats and bars will lead to you pay more attention to those elements in the music you've always listened to, which in turn will give you a better idea of what you're aiming for in your own playing.

12
Playing on the A String: Part 3

An eight-bar blues is a song whose whole form, or structure, is just an eight-bar sequence of chords that repeats over and over to create the entire song. There have been countless eight-bar blues tunes written, many in the 1920s and 1930s. Some of the most popular examples of the form include "Trouble in Mind," pianist Leroy Carr's "How Long Blues," and "Key to the Highway," which Eric Clapton recorded on Layla along with Duane Allman.

13
Playing on the A String: Part 4

An eight-bar blues is a song whose whole form, or structure, is just an eight-bar sequence of chords that repeats over and over to create the entire song. There have been countless eight-bar blues tunes written, many in the 1920s and 1930s. Some of the most popular examples of the form include "Trouble in Mind," pianist Leroy Carr's "How Long Blues," and "Key to the Highway," which Eric Clapton recorded on Layla along with Duane Allman.

14
Strumming the A Chord: Part 1

If you're wondering whether you absolutely have to use a pick, the answer is no. The pick is just a tool, and as such it does make certain things easier - strumming, for example, and playing the notes with a certain kind of clarity or articulation. But plenty of great guitarists have chosen the bare-hands approach, including Gatemouth Brown, Albert Collins, Ry Cooder and Mark Knopfler. Give the pick a chance, but experiment without it if you like.

15
Strumming the A Chord: Part 2

If you're wondering whether you absolutely have to use a pick, the answer is no. The pick is just a tool, and as such it does make certain things easier - strumming, for example, and playing the notes with a certain kind of clarity or articulation. But plenty of great guitarists have chosen the bare-hands approach, including Gatemouth Brown, Albert Collins, Ry Cooder and Mark Knopfler. Give the pick a chance, but experiment without it if you like.

16
Strumming the A Chord: Part 3

Open chords sound so great on the guitar that it's no surprise how many songs have been written in keys like A and E - that is, based around the sound of an A chord or an E chord. To get a feel for this phenomenon, try and lay your hands on a recording of Chicago bluesman Jimmy Reed's greatest hits, and see how many of them sound like they match up with your A chord at the beginning of the song.

17
Strumming the A Chord: Part 4

Open chords sound so great on the guitar that it's no surprise how many songs have been written in keys like A and E - that is, based around the sound of an A chord or an E chord. To get a feel for this phenomenon, try and lay your hands on a recording of Chicago bluesman Jimmy Reed's greatest hits, and see how many of them sound like they match up with your A chord at the beginning of the song.

18
The D Chord: Part 1

Playing with downstrokes and upstrokes is a big part of developing your groove, or your ability to not just play something in time but to make it feel really good. It's like the way someone can sing the right notes of a song, or they can really deliver the song, and make the hair stand up on your arms. Watch a really great guitar player at work and you'll notice how their strumming hand seems locked in with the music.

19
The D Chord: Part 2

Playing with downstrokes and upstrokes is a big part of developing your groove, or your ability to not just play something in time but to make it feel really good. It's like the way someone can sing the right notes of a song, or they can really deliver the song, and make the hair stand up on your arms. Watch a really great guitar player at work and you'll notice how their strumming hand seems locked in with the music.

20
The D Chord: Part 3

Switching chords is really the first big hurdle in playing the guitar. Now, not only does your right hand have to keep strumming, your left hand has to find the right notes to finger, put them in place, and hold them down cleanly all at once! Well, relax - this step can take a while, but it will happen - one day, after a lot of conscious work and slow going, you'll just realize that suddenly you're making it happen.

21
The D Chord: Part 4

Switching chords is really the first big hurdle in playing the guitar. Now, not only does your right hand have to keep strumming, your left hand has to find the right notes to finger, put them in place, and hold them down cleanly all at once! Well, relax - this step can take a while, but it will happen - one day, after a lot of conscious work and slow going, you'll just realize that suddenly you're making it happen.

22
Playing on the D String: Part 1

Should you rest your fingers on the face of the guitar when you pick? That's one of those "it depends" questions. I'm definitely doing it when I pick the single notes in this lesson, but definitely wouldn't under different circumstances - say, playing certain rhythm guitar styles. It's natural to want to brace your hand against the instrument, but there are times when it can get in the way. Try these exercises both ways.

23
Playing on the D String: Part 2

Should you rest your fingers on the face of the guitar when you pick? That's one of those "it depends" questions. I'm definitely doing it when I pick the single notes in this lesson, but definitely wouldn't under different circumstances - say, playing certain rhythm guitar styles. It's natural to want to brace your hand against the instrument, but there are times when it can get in the way. Try these exercises both ways.

24
Playing on the D String: Part 3

All of the purely physical aspects of how you play have as much if not more to do with your sound as to what kind of guitar and amp you choose. The way you wrap your hands around the instrument, the way you hit the strings with your pick, the things you do with your left hand to fret, mute or release the strings, all affect your sound as much if not more than your brand of pickups or how your amp is wired.

25
Playing on the D String: Part 4

All of the purely physical aspects of how you play have as much if not more to do with your sound as to what kind of guitar and amp you choose. The way you wrap your hands around the instrument, the way you hit the strings with your pick, the things you do with your left hand to fret, mute or release the strings, all affect your sound as much if not more than your brand of pickups or how your amp is wired.

26
The E chord: Part 1

You can make a whole lot of music with just a handful of chords. In fact, John Lee Hooker proved that you could play the blues with just one chord and make it work. It may take a little time to get these first few chords under your fingers, but once you've learned them, they're yours forever, and as long as you play the guitar you'll definitely be using A, D and E - they never go out of style.

27
The E chord: Part 2

You can make a whole lot of music with just a handful of chords. In fact, John Lee Hooker proved that you could play the blues with just one chord and make it work. It may take a little time to get these first few chords under your fingers, but once you've learned them, they're yours forever, and as long as you play the guitar you'll definitely be using A, D and E - they never go out of style.

28
The E chord: Part 3

With every song, the order of the chords and how long you play each one adds up to something called the form. Pop tunes can have a fairly elaborate form - a few verses with a distinctly different chorus, maybe broken up by a bridge later in the song. Many blues tunes, on the other hand, like this one, consist of just one fairly short cycle of chords, repeated throughout the song.

29
The E chord: Part 4

With every song, the order of the chords and how long you play each one adds up to something called the form. Pop tunes can have a fairly elaborate form - a few verses with a distinctly different chorus, maybe broken up by a bridge later in the song. Many blues tunes, on the other hand, like this one, consist of just one fairly short cycle of chords, repeated throughout the song.

30
Playing on the E String: Part 1

A guitarist's phrasing, when soloing, is as much a sonic stamp of who they are as their tone is. When improvising, no two players put together their ideas in exactly the same way, and even if two people learn and play the exact same lick, they still won't phrase it exactly the same way, just like no two people would quote the same Spinal Tap reference with the exact same facial expressions and hand gestures.

31
Playing on the E String: Part 2

A guitarist's phrasing, when soloing, is as much a sonic stamp of who they are as their tone is. When improvising, no two players put together their ideas in exactly the same way, and even if two people learn and play the exact same lick, they still won't phrase it exactly the same way, just like no two people would quote the same Spinal Tap reference with the exact same facial expressions and hand gestures.

32
Playing on the E String: Part 3

The twelve-bar blues form can be played as a Chicago shuffle, a slow blues, a rhumba, a Texas shuffle or with a swing feel, and it's all still the same chord progression. It's also been used in nearly every other American genre, from gospel and hillbilly to jazz, rockabilly and r&b, not to mention every era of rock'n'roll, which means there's at least one thing Chuck Berry, Ornette Coleman and Hank Williams all have in common.

33
Playing on the E String: Part 4

The twelve-bar blues form can be played as a Chicago shuffle, a slow blues, a rhumba, a Texas shuffle or with a swing feel, and it's all still the same chord progression. It's also been used in nearly every other American genre, from gospel and hillbilly to jazz, rockabilly and r&b, not to mention every era of rock'n'roll, which means there's at least one thing Chuck Berry, Ornette Coleman and Hank Williams all have in common.

34
12-bar Chicago shuffle in A: Part 1

Once you start getting your chords to sound cleanly, a big part of getting a good sound out of the electric guitar is learning how to use palm muting to control all that fabulous trebly goodness that's pouring out of your axe. When you choke off the strings by the bridge, you can control how ringing or muffled your strings sound by choosing how little or how much to bear down on the strings as you pick them.

35
12-bar Chicago shuffle in A: Part 2

Once you start getting your chords to sound cleanly, a big part of getting a good sound out of the electric guitar is learning how to use palm muting to control all that fabulous trebly goodness that's pouring out of your axe. When you choke off the strings by the bridge, you can control how ringing or muffled your strings sound by choosing how little or how much to bear down on the strings as you pick them.

36
12-bar Chicago shuffle in A: Part 3

The eighth note shuffle feel has a long history on the guitar, going back at least as far as Robert Johnson, who himself may have been one of the first guitarists to adapt this sound from the barrelhouse pianists working the Mississippi Delta circuit in the 1930s. Postwar Chicago bluesmen then translated Johnson's groove to the electric guitar, which was in turn reinterpreted by influential British Invasion musicians like the Rolling Stones. No barrelhouse pianists, no Black Crowes. Sobering, isn't it?

37
12-bar Chicago shuffle in A: Part 4

The eighth note shuffle feel has a long history on the guitar, going back at least as far as Robert Johnson, who himself may have been one of the first guitarists to adapt this sound from the barrelhouse pianists working the Mississippi Delta circuit in the 1930s. Postwar Chicago bluesmen then translated Johnson's groove to the electric guitar, which was in turn reinterpreted by influential British Invasion musicians like the Rolling Stones. No barrelhouse pianists, no Black Crowes. Sobering, isn't it?

38
Playing on the G String: Part 1

The words riff, lick and solo each mean something slightly different. A solo is an entire improvisation, usually played over at least one time through a form like the twelve bar blues. A solo may include several licks, or specific shorter improvised (or memorized) ideas or phrases. A riff is more structural than a solo or a lick; it's a specific phrase that gets repeated at various points throughout the song to help frame the vocals or the chord progression of the song.

39
Playing on the G String: Part 2

The words riff, lick and solo each mean something slightly different. A solo is an entire improvisation, usually played over at least one time through a form like the twelve bar blues. A solo may include several licks, or specific shorter improvised (or memorized) ideas or phrases. A riff is more structural than a solo or a lick; it's a specific phrase that gets repeated at various points throughout the song to help frame the vocals or the chord progression of the song.

40
Playing on the G String: Part 3

While Freddie King was one of the outstanding blues singers of his generation, much of his reputation as a guitarist rests on a pair of all-instrumental Lps he released in 1961 and 1965, Let's Hide Away and Dance Away With Freddie King and Freddie King Gives You A Bonanza of Instrumentals, reissued later on CD as Just Pickin'. Many of the tunes from these recordings have become jam session favorites and together they constitute a deep well of classic blues phrases.

41
Playing on the G String: Part 4

While Freddie King was one of the outstanding blues singers of his generation, much of his reputation as a guitarist rests on a pair of all-instrumental Lps he released in 1961 and 1965, Let's Hide Away and Dance Away With Freddie King and Freddie King Gives You A Bonanza of Instrumentals, reissued later on CD as Just Pickin'. Many of the tunes from these recordings have become jam session favorites and together they constitute a deep well of classic blues phrases.

42
The B7 Chord: Part 1

Eric Clapton has also recorded the eight-bar tunes "How Long Blues" and "Hard Times." "How Long Blues" was written by blues pianist and singer Leroy Carr in 1928 and has since been recorded by everyone from Ray Charles and B.B. King to Hot Tuna. Clapton recorded Charles' own "Hard Times" on Journeyman. Turning from Clapton to two of his biggest influences, you might also check out "Trouble in Mind" - look for versions by Albert or Freddie King.

43
The B7 Chord: Part 2

Eric Clapton has also recorded the eight-bar tunes "How Long Blues" and "Hard Times." "How Long Blues" was written by blues pianist and singer Leroy Carr in 1928 and has since been recorded by everyone from Ray Charles and B.B. King to Hot Tuna. Clapton recorded Charles' own "Hard Times" on Journeyman. Turning from Clapton to two of his biggest influences, you might also check out "Trouble in Mind" - look for versions by Albert or Freddie King.

44
The B7 Chord: Part 3

Many R&B tunes from the 1940s and 1950s have what's called an AABA form - an eight-bar section (the "A" section") that's played twice, followed by a contrasting eight-bar section (the "B" section") and then a repeat of the original A section. As a result, they often feel like an eight-bar blues with a bridge. Singer Etta James' "Steal Away" is a classic example; you can also check out guitar-driven versions by Raful Neal and (with a funk-groove update on the slow-blues original) Walter "Wolfman" Washington.

45
The B7 Chord: Part 4

Many R&B tunes from the 1940s and 1950s have what's called an AABA form - an eight-bar section (the "A" section") that's played twice, followed by a contrasting eight-bar section (the "B" section") and then a repeat of the original A section. As a result, they often feel like an eight-bar blues with a bridge. Singer Etta James' "Steal Away" is a classic example; you can also check out guitar-driven versions by Raful Neal and (with a funk-groove update on the slow-blues original) Walter "Wolfman" Washington.

46
Playing on the E String: Part 1

As you start looking around, you'll find that even more blues songs are in the key of E than in the key of A. Once again, it's all about the open strings. In the key of E, the lowest, fattest, heaviest-sounding open string on the instrument is available as a bass note, and if you're soloing, the top three open strings are all part of the E minor pentatonic scale, a very important sound when it comes to soloing on the blues.

47
Playing on the E String: Part 2

As you start looking around, you'll find that even more blues songs are in the key of E than in the key of A. Once again, it's all about the open strings. In the key of E, the lowest, fattest, heaviest-sounding open string on the instrument is available as a bass note, and if you're soloing, the top three open strings are all part of the E minor pentatonic scale, a very important sound when it comes to soloing on the blues.

48
Playing on the E String: Part 3

The main riff to this twelve bar blues solo is a nod to "Baby Please Don't Go," the one-chord tune covered by Mance Lipscomb and Lightnin' Hopkins, John Lee Hooker and Muddy Waters, Ted Nugent, Aerosmith, Bob Dylan and John Lennon. A well-travelled song, indeed. Songs built around just one chord are sometimes called "vamp" tunes, from the jazz term for hanging out on one chord waiting for the action to start. Except on blues tunes like "Baby Please Don't Go," the vamp is the action.

49
Playing on the E String: Part 4

The main riff to this twelve bar blues solo is a nod to "Baby Please Don't Go," the one-chord tune covered by Mance Lipscomb and Lightnin' Hopkins, John Lee Hooker and Muddy Waters, Ted Nugent, Aerosmith, Bob Dylan and John Lennon. A well-travelled song, indeed. Songs built around just one chord are sometimes called "vamp" tunes, from the jazz term for hanging out on one chord waiting for the action to start. Except on blues tunes like "Baby Please Don't Go," the vamp is the action.

50
A Minor - C - D7 Chords: Part 1

If you watch other guitarists play, you may notice them using something called bar chords, or chord fingerings which you can move all over the neck by fretting all six strings with your index finger and then fretting various additional notes with your remaining fingers. Nearly every bar chord shape is ultimately related to one of the open chord shapes you're learning in this course, and the strength you're building learning open chords will help prepare you for playing bar chords down the line.

51
A Minor - C - D7 Chords: Part 2

If you watch other guitarists play, you may notice them using something called bar chords, or chord fingerings which you can move all over the neck by fretting all six strings with your index finger and then fretting various additional notes with your remaining fingers. Nearly every bar chord shape is ultimately related to one of the open chord shapes you're learning in this course, and the strength you're building learning open chords will help prepare you for playing bar chords down the line.

52
A Minor - C - D7 Chords: Part 3

The Freddie King instrumentals mentioned in lesson 11 were in part influenced by the popularity of Surf music in the early 1960s. Surf music was all-instrumental and guitar-heavy by definition; the Ventures are considered by some to be the ultimate surf band. Like King's instrumentals, surf music is a great place to pick up new guitar-friendly riffs and ideas, particularly in the open position. Check out their versions of "Peter Gunn," "Pipeline" and "Walk Don't Run" for a dose of twangy goodness, '60s style.

53
A Minor - C - D7 Chords: Part 4

The Freddie King instrumentals mentioned in lesson 11 were in part influenced by the popularity of Surf music in the early 1960s. Surf music was all-instrumental and guitar-heavy by definition; the Ventures are considered by some to be the ultimate surf band. Like King's instrumentals, surf music is a great place to pick up new guitar-friendly riffs and ideas, particularly in the open position. Check out their versions of "Peter Gunn," "Pipeline" and "Walk Don't Run" for a dose of twangy goodness, '60s style.

54
Playing on the B String: Part 1

Many blues guitarists steer clear of jazz, thinking it's all going to be too abstract, too goofy, or just have too many notes. Not true! There's a stack of funky, soulful jazz out there, much of it featuring plenty of lowdown, groovin' guitar playing. Get your feet wet with something like guitarist Kenny Burrell's album Midnight Blue or George Benson's Blue Benson, and then maybe move on to Hammond organist Jimmy Smith's Back at the Chicken Shack, also with Burrell on guitar.

55
Playing on the B String: Part 2

Many blues guitarists steer clear of jazz, thinking it's all going to be too abstract, too goofy, or just have too many notes. Not true! There's a stack of funky, soulful jazz out there, much of it featuring plenty of lowdown, groovin' guitar playing. Get your feet wet with something like guitarist Kenny Burrell's album Midnight Blue or George Benson's Blue Benson, and then maybe move on to Hammond organist Jimmy Smith's Back at the Chicken Shack, also with Burrell on guitar.

56
Playing on the B String: Part 3

If Benson and Burrell didn't scare you off, you could also check out Grant Green and Howard Roberts. Roberts spent much of his career doing sessions and teaching, but his early records Howard Roberts: Guilty! and H.R. is a Dirty Guitar Player featured his bright, poppin' playing on nearly two dozen short, Sixties-approved instrumentals. Green was virtually the house guitarist at Blue Note in the early 1960s; check out Grant's First Stand or his playing on saxophonist Hank Mobley's Workout.

57
Playing on the B String: Part 4

If Benson and Burrell didn't scare you off, you could also check out Grant Green and Howard Roberts. Roberts spent much of his career doing sessions and teaching, but his early records Howard Roberts: Guilty! and H.R. is a Dirty Guitar Player featured his bright, poppin' playing on nearly two dozen short, Sixties-approved instrumentals. Green was virtually the house guitarist at Blue Note in the early 1960s; check out Grant's First Stand or his playing on saxophonist Hank Mobley's Workout.

58
E7 to A7 Chord Exercises: Part 1

Playing in just a trio on his debut release in 1983, Texas Flood, Stevie Ray Vaughan displayed his huge-sounding shuffle moves on "Pride and Joy" and "I'm Cryin'." By combining a boogie-woogie-style bass line with offbeat chord hits and mixing in fills on the open high strings, Vaughan pulled together two or three classic shuffle approaches into a single high-octane guitar part. His left-hand damping is what gives the offbeat chords their distinctive "thwak!"

59
E7 to A7 Chord Exercises: Part 2

Playing in just a trio on his debut release in 1983, Texas Flood, Stevie Ray Vaughan displayed his huge-sounding shuffle moves on "Pride and Joy" and "I'm Cryin'." By combining a boogie-woogie-style bass line with offbeat chord hits and mixing in fills on the open high strings, Vaughan pulled together two or three classic shuffle approaches into a single high-octane guitar part. His left-hand damping is what gives the offbeat chords their distinctive "thwak!"

60
E7 to A7 Chord Exercises: Part 3

T-Bone Walker is the original electric guitar hero, suiting up to sing, play and do the splits for hip, appreciative crowds in Los Angeles in the 1940s. He was one of B.B. King's heroes, along with Lonnie Johnson and Charlie Christian, and while single-note blues soloing existed before Walker, amplification allowed T-Bone to go toe-to-toe with a hot horn section and be heard playing fills and solos in and around his cool, confident vocals.

61
E7 to A7 Chord Exercises: Part 4

T-Bone Walker is the original electric guitar hero, suiting up to sing, play and do the splits for hip, appreciative crowds in Los Angeles in the 1940s. He was one of B.B. King's heroes, along with Lonnie Johnson and Charlie Christian, and while single-note blues soloing existed before Walker, amplification allowed T-Bone to go toe-to-toe with a hot horn section and be heard playing fills and solos in and around his cool, confident vocals.

62
Sharp Notes: Part 1

What T-Bone Walker called a shuffle boogie came out of a solo piano style called Boogie Woogie that was all the rage in the 1930s. Popularized by Albert Ammons, Jimmy Yancey and others, it featured the rolling "eight to the bar" bass lines that T-Bone later incorporated into his own music. Walker left this job to his bassist and pianist, but later bluesmen like Gatemouth Brown and Stevie Ray Vaughan worked out these licks on the guitar in much the way we're doing here.

63
Sharp Notes: Part 2

What T-Bone Walker called a shuffle boogie came out of a solo piano style called Boogie Woogie that was all the rage in the 1930s. Popularized by Albert Ammons, Jimmy Yancey and others, it featured the rolling "eight to the bar" bass lines that T-Bone later incorporated into his own music. Walker left this job to his bassist and pianist, but later bluesmen like Gatemouth Brown and Stevie Ray Vaughan worked out these licks on the guitar in much the way we're doing here.

64
Sharp Notes: Part 3

Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown was one of T-Bone Walker's direct musical descendants, a fellow guitar-slinging Texan with a similarly understated vocal style. Brown picked with his bare hands, and took boogie woogie figures like the one in this lesson all over the neck by using a capo on his Gibson Firebird guitar. Freely combining elements of blues, swing and cajun music on a mix of instrumental and vocal material, he liked to explain that nobody could play like him - he was just too fast.

65
Sharp Notes: Part 4

Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown was one of T-Bone Walker's direct musical descendants, a fellow guitar-slinging Texan with a similarly understated vocal style. Brown picked with his bare hands, and took boogie woogie figures like the one in this lesson all over the neck by using a capo on his Gibson Firebird guitar. Freely combining elements of blues, swing and cajun music on a mix of instrumental and vocal material, he liked to explain that nobody could play like him - he was just too fast.

66
Emin & G Chords : Part 1

For a dose of electric rhythm guitar playing in this style, check out a collection of Aretha Franklin's greatest hits like Aretha's Gold, which is actually mostly from the 1960s. Many of the songs were cut using the Muscle Shoals rhythm section, and a few feature one Duane Allman on lead guitar in the bargain. In situations like this, the real heroics lie in coming up with the tastiest, most economical part and making it really groove with the rest of the rhythm section.

67
Emin & G Chords : Part 2

For a dose of electric rhythm guitar playing in this style, check out a collection of Aretha Franklin's greatest hits like Aretha's Gold, which is actually mostly from the 1960s. Many of the songs were cut using the Muscle Shoals rhythm section, and a few feature one Duane Allman on lead guitar in the bargain. In situations like this, the real heroics lie in coming up with the tastiest, most economical part and making it really groove with the rest of the rhythm section.

68
Emin & G Chords : Part 3

As a member of Booker T. and the MGs, guitarist Steve Cropper was part of the Stax/Volt label's house band in the early- and mid-1960s. That's him soloing and playing rhythm guitar on the band's own first hit, "Green Onions," and Cropper went on to produce and play on Otis Redding's records, co-writing tunes like "Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay" with Redding. There'll be plenty of Cropper to check out on any anthology of the MGs, Redding or of the Stax/Volt label itself.

69
Emin & G Chords : Part 4

As a member of Booker T. and the MGs, guitarist Steve Cropper was part of the Stax/Volt label's house band in the early- and mid-1960s. That's him soloing and playing rhythm guitar on the band's own first hit, "Green Onions," and Cropper went on to produce and play on Otis Redding's records, co-writing tunes like "Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay" with Redding. There'll be plenty of Cropper to check out on any anthology of the MGs, Redding or of the Stax/Volt label itself.

70
Double Stops: Part 1

I had the good fortune to teach some workshops with Duke Robillard in the late '90s at the National Guitar Workshop, and I learned a whole lot about playing double stops on the blues from watching him close up and hearing him explain his licks to the class. Some of his ideas had come from tenor guitarist Tiny Grimes, and others were drawn from the playing of Bill Jennings, one of the guitarists with Louis Jordan's Tympany Five.

71
Double Stops: Part 2

I had the good fortune to teach some workshops with Duke Robillard in the late '90s at the National Guitar Workshop, and I learned a whole lot about playing double stops on the blues from watching him close up and hearing him explain his licks to the class. Some of his ideas had come from tenor guitarist Tiny Grimes, and others were drawn from the playing of Bill Jennings, one of the guitarists with Louis Jordan's Tympany Five.

72
Double Stops: Part 3

A few years before working with Duke, I watched Gatemouth Brown give a workshop, which mostly consisted of him taking questions from about 40 students while puffing on a pipe filled with "Gate's Special Blend." I asked him when a guitar player should start working on their own style, and he shot back, "As soon as they've got the basics down." He didn't specify what constituted "the basics," but his point was clear: figuring out who you are is an essential part of becoming a musician.

73
Double Stops: Part 4

A few years before working with Duke, I watched Gatemouth Brown give a workshop, which mostly consisted of him taking questions from about 40 students while puffing on a pipe filled with "Gate's Special Blend." I asked him when a guitar player should start working on their own style, and he shot back, "As soon as they've got the basics down." He didn't specify what constituted "the basics," but his point was clear: figuring out who you are is an essential part of becoming a musician.

74
E7 and A7 Voicings: Part 1

Guitarist Earl Hooker was the classic musician's musician, revered by his fellow Chicago bluesmen but relatively unknown even among blues fans. He did session work and made a handful of his own recordings on which he effortlessly switched between slide and standard guitar playing, often in mid-solo. While I can't prove it, I've often suspected that Buddy Guy's "Mary Had a Little Lamb" was based on some of Hooker's ideas about combining lead and rhythm guitar in open position.

75
E7 and A7 Voicings: Part 2

Guitarist Earl Hooker was the classic musician's musician, revered by his fellow Chicago bluesmen but relatively unknown even among blues fans. He did session work and made a handful of his own recordings on which he effortlessly switched between slide and standard guitar playing, often in mid-solo. While I can't prove it, I've often suspected that Buddy Guy's "Mary Had a Little Lamb" was based on some of Hooker's ideas about combining lead and rhythm guitar in open position.

76
E7 and A7 Voicings: Part 3

The approach in this lesson recalls Buddy Guy's arrangement of "Mary Had a Little Lamb" on his landmark 1960s Lp A Man And The Blues. Stevie Ray Vaughan later recorded Guy's arrangement on Texas Flood, but it's worth seeking out the Buddy Guy version for the amazing falsetto vocal moves and supercool clean guitar tones. Besides, then you can also check out Guy's guitar moves on the excellently-titled "Jam on a Monday Morning" and "Just Playing My Axe."

77
E7 and A7 Voicings: Part 4

The approach in this lesson recalls Buddy Guy's arrangement of "Mary Had a Little Lamb" on his landmark 1960s Lp A Man And The Blues. Stevie Ray Vaughan later recorded Guy's arrangement on Texas Flood, but it's worth seeking out the Buddy Guy version for the amazing falsetto vocal moves and supercool clean guitar tones. Besides, then you can also check out Guy's guitar moves on the excellently-titled "Jam on a Monday Morning" and "Just Playing My Axe."

78
Tuning without a tuner

I used a couple of different recent-vintage Fender Telecasters to record this course, and ran them both through a POD on the "blackface" setting, that is, a model of an early-1960s Fender Deluxe Reverb amp. I like light gauge strings (with a .010 on top) and heavy Fender-style picks, and for years, my main rig for live performances and sessions has been a '98 made-in-Mexico Tele through an actual '65 or '66 Fender Deluxe amp with a couple of motley Ibanez Tube Screamers.

79
Tone

I used a couple of different recent-vintage Fender Telecasters to record this course, and ran them both through a POD on the "blackface" setting, that is, a model of an early-1960s Fender Deluxe Reverb amp. I like light gauge strings (with a .010 on top) and heavy Fender-style picks, and for years, my main rig for live performances and sessions has been a '98 made-in-Mexico Tele through an actual '65 or '66 Fender Deluxe amp with a couple of motley Ibanez Tube Screamers.

80
Practising

With the advent of iTunes, so much recorded music is now available from the early 1920s to the present, you can assemble the most amazing collection of tracks for yourself for hardly any dough at all. As you continue to develop as a guitarist, try and pull some of the recordings I've mentioned here, and see for yourself what these musicians sounded like. They're your teachers and fellow guitarists now. Give them a listen, follow your own intuition, and make it funky. Good luck

81
Jamming and Improvising

With the advent of iTunes, so much recorded music is now available from the early 1920s to the present, you can assemble the most amazing collection of tracks for yourself for hardly any dough at all. As you continue to develop as a guitarist, try and pull some of the recordings I've mentioned here, and see for yourself what these musicians sounded like. They're your teachers and fellow guitarists now. Give them a listen, follow your own intuition, and make it funky. Good luck.

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