I will now mention briefly some of the techniques you will be using when you learn to play blues guitar. Of course, no one technique is exclusive to any particular discipline, but the ones I am listing will be your means of communicating your own blues to your listeners. There are a techniques for playing notes without picking the string with the plectrum or your right hand fingers. First, String Bending which means bending the guitar string with the fingers of your left hand to alter the note you are playing up or down. Or you can press on the string, pluck the note and Slide it up or down. If you pick a note at the first fret and remove your finger with a pulling action it will sound the note you just played followed by the sound of the open string. This is called a pull-off. Likewise you can pluck a note and while holding it with the first finger, slam the second finger down on the next fret. That is a hammer-on.
These techniques are a lot easier to do than they are to describe, so make use of on-line videos to watch guitarists execute these techniques. You will also be able to see when blues guitarists play single-note scale passages and when they prefer to use arpeggios, but that will take some practice at listening.
B.B. King is a blues legend who you should look for in videos and in tab collections. He always surrounds himself with top class musicians who are at the top of their form. His songs always have that spark of spontaneity as if he was making up the words and music as he goes along but there is never a hesitation over a lyric and never a note out of place. Songs include Beautician Blues, Five Long Years, Just like a Woman, Riding with the King, Rock Me Baby, Sweet Sixteen, Three O’Clock Blues, The Thrill Is Gone, Why I Sing the Blues, You Upset Me Baby.
Another obvious choice to emulate is Eric Clapton, one of the greatest guitar players the world has seen. His music has always been based in the blues even though he has successfully ventured into rock, reggae and ballads. Standouts among many great songs include After Midnight, Hide Away, Bad Love, Badge, Before You Accuse Me (Take A Look At Yourself), Cocaine, Cross Road Blues (Crossroads), Forever Man, Hard Times, Have You Ever Loved A Woman, I Ain’t Got You, I Can’t Stand It, I Feel Free, I Shot The Sheriff, Lay Down Sally, Layla, Let It Grow, Strange Brew, Sunshine Of Your Love, Tulsa Time, White Room and Wonderful Tonight.
Chuck Berry was one of the first artists to add that intangible element to blues music which gave the world rock and roll. Johnny B. Goode, Maybellene, Rock And Roll Music are three of his songs included in the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. Others are Back in the U.S.A., Little Queenie, Roll Over Beethoven, Sweet Little Rock and Roller, Too Much Monkey Business, No Particular Place To Go and Carol.
As you listen to these artists and try to read and play the guitar tabs of their music, you will find that the technical side of learning blues guitar is not so difficult. Good luck with finding that bluesy feeling!
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