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Teach Yourself Blues – Choose Your Style | Teach Yourself Guitar Now

Teach Yourself Blues – Choose Your Style

So You Want To Play The Blues. The First Step Is To Choose Your Style

There can’t be many folks who hear a blues man perform a heart stopping riff on the guitar and not wish it that it were him playing that cool stuff. There is something incredibly cool about it that transcends the actual technique. music doesn’t have to be incredibly complicated or flashy – Lightnin’ Hopkins would often play a simple bass pattern that could give you goose bumps. One of the first things we need to do is figure out what genre of blues guitar we want to play. This is important – there is a lot of practice ahead of you, and you need to be passionate about your chosen style.

When you mention ‘ blues guitar ‘, various ideas will occur to different people, according to on their age and personality. For some, the electric blues of BB King and Stevie Ray Vaughan is the ideal. Other people are looking for the true authenticity of the classic acoustic blues. For the purposes of this article, I’ll group all the electric styles together and just call it ‘ electric ‘ , because I’m more interested in the foundation of all electric blues, acoustic blues guitar. What are the various styles of classic acoustic and how could we differentiate between? This could be done by technique, sound or location. In fact, where the guitarists where located appears to have had a big effect on the regional styles, possibley because blues men swapped ideas from each other. In this way, regional styles developed.

The Delta Blues Guitar Sound

It’s supposed that Delta is the region where it all started, although it’s more likely that it originated in several regions round about the same time. Certainly, quite a few talented blues men moved to the North to ply their trade in cities like Chicago and Detroit when it dawned on them that they could get paid playing blues guitar without laboring 15 hours every in the fields.

The early acoustic work by Muddy Waters (Walkin’ Blues) is a fine example of this fundamental mississippi style. Incidentally, Waters said that he was singing his version of Walkin’ before Robert Johnson.

Delta blues guitar can be described as relatively simple, often raw and deeply emotional. The slide style of picking guitar was ideal for the area. The conditions were often hot and humid, which played havoc with a wooden instrument’s tuning. Slide tunes performed in open G or D were easier to keep in tune, and additionally it was easy to compensate for tuning inaccuracy by moving the slide around.

Pieces from mississippi delta picked in normal tuning were more often in the Keys of E and A, and used a monotonic bass pattern. The picking technique might be often basic but powerful. Blues men to listen to are Robert Johnson, Son House, Muddy Waters and Fred McDowell.

Over To Texas

The lone star state has traditionally produced a continuous stream of blues men. In the days of the classic blues, several notable players born in Texas created a distinctive sound. A giant blues man, Lightnin’ Hopkins, played mostly in E and A, using a monotic bass pattern. However, his right hand thumb was very quick and he was more diverse than the delta style. Lightnin’ wrote many slow temp blues pieces in the key of E, but could quicky raise the tempo for an audience that wanted to dance a while. In his hay day, he could easily fill the local halls and made some records. However, after being ripped off by a recording manager, he always insisted on being paid before every gig. Listen to the music of Mance Lipscomb, another Texas legend.

Carolina Men

It’s strange how certain regions produced a glut of impressive blues men, as was the case in South Carolina. Much of the music seems to be a link between Texas blues and complicated ragtime styles, but that description is a bit too simple. Some players such as Willie Walker and Pink Anderson were very comfortable with the true alternating bass line normally associated with ragtime blues, but others, like Floyd Council, could leave the pattern whenever needed to accent some musical phrases in his music. It’s obvious that these musicians learned from each other, and we can hear similar patterns in the music of Blind Boy Fuller, Floyd and Gary Davis. All of these blues men were known to one another. Scrapper Blackwell wrote some great examples of amazing acousic blues with clever patterns and attractive words.

Ragtime Guitar – The Happy Blues

Maybe the most complicated blues style of all, the top peformers were true masters of this way of playing. Ragtime blues patterns generally have chord structures in the keys of G and C, and often feature six or seven chords rather than the three or four associated with Mississippi or Texas pieces in E or A. (Of course,there are the exceptions to the rule!) Other characteristics are a strong bass pattern alternating between 2 or 3 strings, a tune played simultaneously on the higher strings and often lyrics punctuated by single string runs picked with thumb and finger. Possibly the two grand legends of ragtime blues were Blind Blake and Reverend Gary Davis. Blind Blake’s bass picking was particulary slick, sometimes doubling up on the beat and slipping his picking thumb between two strings, creating a highly syncopated effect. Gary Davis could really play all styles – blues, gospel and ragtime blues.

Some performers, such as Big Bill Broonzy, played a monotic bass picking pattern, but was much more diverse than the majority of the delta blues men. He would perform standards, ballads, and often move over into jazz and ragtime in his approach. Broonzy created a style we might call Chicago swing.

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