"Blues You Can Use"

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Jordan Warford here, Editorial Manager for Guitar Tips.

Welcome to our Guitar Tips newsletter and thank you for taking the time to tune in. Join us as we examine the joys of blues guitar and the influence it has had on modern day music.

In this edition:

It's hard to believe how quickly a few months pass by. We are nearing the end of our series on various genres and styles. While it's extremely hard to cover all of them, we have picked out some of the most prevalent styles and players in today's society. Today we will dive into blues guitar.

Learn how to make your guitar play what you're feeling. Check out our section dealing with blues rhythm and try out some new chords and strumming patterns.

We also have our Severe Gear Premiere up and running again. Hear about the latest gear and find out what the best fit is for you.

Our site review this week is Mike's Guitar Site. See what resources you can read up on and how you can become more connected with the rest of the web.

As always, you can see what your fellow subscribers are saying in our Feedback Booth. Hear some suggestions and ideas that have poured in over the last two weeks and take a look at how we are going to use them.

With all of that in mind, let's get started!

Playing from the inside out.

Soul food.

Blues guitar is one of the most intriguing and interesting genres that is out there. It has a rich history, interesting people and a way of expressing emotion unlike any other style of music. Essentially, blues tells a story of one's life experiences and has various themes ranging from travel to current events.

Blues isn't as frilly as other genres of music. It is raw and uncensored and as far as the guitar is concerned, one of the best venues to let your creativity soar. You won't be criticized for your technique here, rather, you'll be praised for your ingenuity.

Within the realm of blues guitar, there are many different subspecialties. There is delta blues,

Many guitarists fail to realize is that legendary players such as Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughn were all blues players. Many of their songs were inspired by blues and created a whole new generation of pumped up guitarists.

Unfortunately, many people fail to make that connection and blues is often underestimated by aspiring guitarists. The reality is that blues is only what you make it.

While I respect those who choose not to play blues, I have little tolerance for ignorance. You have heard it said time and time again throughout this newsletter that blues has been the foundation for many of your favorite styles that you enjoy today.

The riffs.

Blues lead uses a multifaceted approach that is based upon smooth bends, hammer on's, pull off's and many other classic techniques. The way they are delivered is what sets blues apart. First off, blues rarely, if ever, follows one set rule.

However, there are numerous patterns that have made blues famous. You can branch off of these patterns into your own unique style. Here are some riffs that are usually played by bass guitar but will give you an idea of the shuffle feel that blues can take on:

... Now we can introduce some other skills that we have learned in previous articles. Let's take improvisation for example. The above two riffs offer plenty of opportunity to come up with some inventive licks.

If you add on some hammer on's, pull off's and a bit of attitude to the second example, you can come up with this riff:

Ultimately, you can make anything sound bluesy with some simple scales. Here are some of the most used scale patterns in blues guitar:

...There are various kinds of blues scales. Many are derived from the pentatonic scale. However, a true blues scale has what is known as a blue note. A blues note means a drop in pitch located on the 3rd, 5th, or 7th tone of the scale. If this flatted note isn't included in the key signature, an accidental will be used to tell you to play that note as a flat.

If you're not familiar with this terminology, please refer back to our previous lessons on scales located in the archive.

That scratches the tip of blues scales and there are many other variations. I encourage you to buy a scale book to hone your skills and see the other blues scales available.

Other scales are commonly used in blues as well, such as the mixolydian scale. While we won't be discussing it today, this scale can open up new doors into the world of blues. Here's an example:

Blues chords and rhythm.

My favorite chords are blues chords. While some of them may be a little more complicated, you can really get a groove going with them. Here are five common blues chords:

O= Play string.

X= Don't play string.

...You may have noticed that all of them have the same name tag of seven. These are known as dominant seventh chords. They sound great when played together and give you plenty of possibilities.

You can also play a G7 chord by moving your finger from the third fret to the first fret on the high E string. It will require you to change your fingering.

Strumming patterns for blues are usually fast paced. In order to do this, we keep things simple and rhythmic. Here is a great strumming pattern to learn:

Down Down Up Up Down

Switch things up a bit and try switching the up and down strums in the above example. Keep practicing them and you'll be well on your way. Here's an example of it in action:

Note: I am using E7, A Major, and A7. I simply hammer onto the 3rd fret on the high E string to make the A7 chord.

You'll find that I used a lot of rest in-between chords. These little pauses can be done by moving your fingers slightly off the fretboard and discontinue strumming at the same time. You can stop strumming for that brief moment and pick right back up again without breaking the pattern.

This will be challenging at first but you will soon grow into it. In musical language, it can be described as a "shuffle" feel.

Putting It Into Practice

Soloing strategies.

When playing blues, you may encounter a problem where everything you play begins to sound the same. You may find that you continually revert back to what you know. In other words, you're playing in a box. Here are some helpful hints to help you avoid this problem.

  • First, start off with playing short bursts of music that last for roughly 10 seconds. These short "Bursts" should sound like a solo. Vary the tempo and the pause time in between these short rests.
  • Secondly, try key changes. Move into a new key and incorporate the techniques that you are already familiar with. Use dynamics. Going from something soft to something hard really has a great effect and will train your mind to think outside of the box.
  • I also suggest that you learn how to play 16th notes and 32nd notes in rapid succession so you will be as equally equipped to play the fast notes as you are the slow notes.
  • Focus in on your right hand and insure that you give it a good work out everyday by using alternative picking and rapid picking techniques.

I urge you to focus in on that last tip. Stop looking at your left and right hand as two separate entities. Rather, look at them as one. You may notice that when you strum hard with your right hand, your left hand becomes tense even though it's just holding a simple chord.

A problem like that can lead to serious health problems in the future such as carpal tunnel syndrome. To avoid that, practice playing with your left hand relaxed while your right hand strums. This will also increase speed and help you to add texture to your blues solos.

Best of luck!

Severe Gear Premiere

Since our last gear review, a lot has happened in the world of guitar. In late January, Anaheim had the pleasure of playing host to the annual NAMM show. The acronym NAMM stands for the National Association of Music and this organization has one of the biggest and baddest music expos in the world.

This annual show is where all of your favorite guitar manufacturers such as Fender, Gibson, Taylor, etc tend to release their latest products. Many manufacturers give the public their first glimpse of their products at the NAMM show. Hundreds of companies send in their troops and it truly is a feast for the eyes.

This year, Eric Denton, owner of Guitar Trader, was on the spot checking out the best deals on gear for people like yourself. He managed to track down some rare amps and get some great deals on some other products. Here's some of what he came up with:

FENDER Limited Edition Hot Rod Deluxe Jensons Only 200 Made

This amp is quite impressive, not to mention rare. Fender is one of the finest amp manufactures around and they knew exactly what they were doing when they designed this amp. It has looks to kill and enough pristine tone to make your head spin.

It has 40 Watts of power, which is a respectable amount of power for anyone ranging from amateur to professional. This amp is a tube amp, which adds a creamy tone with a nice touch of what I like to call attitude.

What makes up for the middle of the road power is the ability to hook this puppy up to a larger speaker system, which leaves the amp as your personal monitor (most amps have this "direct out" feature). Provided your venue has a decent sound system, your tone won't be sacrificed.

In addition to the above, it has an original speaker design that is unique to this amp. You will enjoy some great built in effects such as the Fender spring reverb. The amp also includes a foot switch so you can cycle through the amps options, which saves time and is a great thing to have.

While I recognize the steep price tag on this amp, I want to point out that you will get what you pay for. Fender amps are built to last a lifetime and keep their tone and quality.

You can check it out by clicking here.

FENDER Bullet 150 w/DSP Effects On Sale!

When I started to play guitar, I played on an amp that was quite similar to this one. It never failed me once and it is extremely reliable.

While it may be small, it is mighty. It comes loaded with effects and has enough power to satisfy most beginner guitarists. The Fender Bullet has all of the buttons and knobs that are needed to shape an excellent tone to suit any beginner guitar.

While I fully recognize that it is impossible to reproduce the great tones and options seen on more expensive amps, the Bullet gives you a small taste at a fraction of the cost.

Another plus to this amp is its portability. You can easily take it wherever you desire without any problems. Great for practices and travel.

You can check it out by clicking here.




FENDER GA-45SCE Lefty Acou/Elec Natural w/Case Price Drop!

I saved one of my personal favorites for last. All too often, lefty guitarists are left(no pun intended) out of the picture. This guitar solves those problems. It offers exceptional quality at an affordable price, which is rare for the majority of lefty guitars.

You can look forward to years of enjoyment coupled with all of the fine details that you would expect from much more expensive instruments.

The Fishmen electronics duplicate every slight detail that is produced by your guitar. The body shape, bridge, and wood offer great resonance and matchless response for the money. With a binded fretboard and a very cool head stock, it is a combination that you cannot beat.

If you're a lefty in need of a great quality acoustic guitar, this may be the perfect fit for you. Click here to check it out.





When you go to shop for an amp, there are a few things that you should keep in mind. Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Take the size of the amp into consideration. Do you really need an amp sitting in your bedroom that has the possibility of breaking windows? Do you plan to gig and need something that can fill the room? Ask yourself these questions because in the end, the more watts you want, the more money you need.
  • What genre of music do you like to play? As you have seen in our previous issues leading up to this point, different genres usually requires different setups. Some amps come loaded with effects that you will never need or use. Those cost you extra money as well, so it's best to get an amp with effects that suite you best. If you can't find the perfect one, get the most simplistic.
  • Let your ears tell you the best choice. If you're new at this thing, take a more experienced musician along to help you select the best amp for you.

Happy hunting!

Site Review

Mike's Guitar Site

I always love surfing sites that offer me valuable resources and great information. Mike's Guitar Site encompasses all of those things and quenches that thirst for more interesting information about guitar. What is the purpose of Mike's Guitar site? It is to provide you with links and resources to help you develop as a player.

You can also enjoy learning about your favorite players, get inside information on the best educational sites and hear various audio clips from guitarists such as Joe Satriani. If your interested in getting merchandise from your favorite band, you will be happy to know that there are links to all of these establishments as well.

It may not be as flashy as many of the sites out there on the web, but there is care put in to insure that the content you see is correct and well researched. I recommend it for getting the resources you need and reading up on some of the hottest guitarists in the industry.

If you want to check out Mike's Guitar Site, simply click here.

Feedback Booth

I'm very excited this week as we have a huge selection of wonderful emails to share with you that have piled in since our last newsletter. Please, keep telling us your suggestions, thoughts, and comments about our newsletters. Here is a sampling of what you have written in to us with. Enjoy!

Michael Musa of Nigeria writes to us with this interesting question:

"Hi Jordan, It's really amazing that I keeping learning so much in a very short time from your newsletter. You have inspired me in a very special way and my love and deep respect for the guitar has grown tremendously. I can't thank you enough. Lately, I have been wondering what's the principle behind revolutionizing the guitar into seven strings(for Rhythm and Lead guitar) and five or six strings for the bass. How do you tune them? What notes are being replicated? What value are they intended to add to music? I will greatly appreciate your help in putting me through. Keep the good work up. All the best, Michael Musa (Nigeria, West Africa)"

Jeff Rice wanted to share his words of encouragement. Thank you!

"Hey Jordan, It is always good to read your impressive library of facts in the guitar world. Keep it up mate, it's a great tool for learning the guitar or improving your playing."

Not every statement I make in this newsletter always makes a great impression. Like you, I am human and sometimes neglect to cover certain areas or include certain information. Mike Hinton wanted to share his opinion on the most recent article and the frustration he is facing:

"Jordan, you might want to consider renaming your newsletters ELECTRIC Guitar Tips, because that's what nearly all of the publications are about. We are living in the new golden age of acoustics, with many high quality acoustic guitars available at reasonable prices, and there are legions of acoustic players you could reach.

You might also find that these players are often (demographically) at a stage in life where they have more disposable income than ever before. Reading the most recent newsletter, I'm not convinced there's a lot of knowledge about acoustics in your organization. For instance, it was stated that Gibson made it's first guitar in 1936-try about 70 years prior to that.

Gibson has produced some of the greatest acoustic guitars ever played (I own a wonderful J-200 and I'll never part with it), such as the J-45, J-185, Hummingbird, Dove, J-200-the king of the flattops, and others.

Acoustic amplifiers have revolutionized the acoustic sound, with brands such as SWR and Crate. There's a whole world of great acoustic sound to be explored, and it would serve your organization well to take advantage of it. Sincerely, Mike Hinton"

First off, my apologies for not stating that I was referring to production electric guitars. I am quite aware of Gibson's long lasting acoustic history and will cover it in a future newsletter. I can assure all of you that we will be tackling the acoustic world very shortly.

I am a huge acoustic fan (just ask my family). Personally, I admire the music you can produce with these fine instruments and agree with Mike on many of his very valid points. Patience is key, so sit tight and you will not be disappointed.

This is the email the inspired us to share some of the NAMM show room amps with you. Here's what Brian had to say:

"Thanks Jordan, for all the information that you have put together in the last bunch of newsletters. They are indeed very helpful. I wonder if you could steer me in the direction of a good sounding amp to plug in my fender strat. We play country and rock and a good mixture of other music as well. I have been using a Peavey Bandit 112 but I am not impressed with the overall sound. Any help would be appreciated Thanks Brian."

I highly recommend many of the higher end Fender amps for your amplification purposes. Trayner also has some great versatile amps. Considering you are looking for a nice clean tone and a warm crunch, I recommend the Fender Hot Rod Deluxe. Happy hunting!


This wraps up yet another edition of our Guitar Tips newsletter. We hope that you took something out of it that you will be able to apply to your own unique style.

Blues has been in the forefront of our culture for decades and continues to spill over into many other styles of music. Perhaps this is the aspect of blues that I find to be the most intriguing. When you look at it from a technique perspective, blues doesn't use any "trick" that is different from what you would use in any other genre.

It simply uses what you have, some light distortion to get the right tone and a lot of heart. The perfect combination for a lot of fun.

In the coming weeks you can look forward to more "How to" lessons. We'll be diving into the world of acoustic guitar, looking at simple do it yourself guitar maintenance, and even tackle effects and how you can use them properly.

Next week will be the last article in our series covering genres. If your favorite type of music wasn't covered, don't fret as we will look at them in a few months.

Until next time, keep on picking!


If you've always wanted to learn to play the guitar but never had the chance, give me 17 minutes a day for 90 days and I'll show you how to play virtually any song you want! Visit http://www.guitartips.com.au