Blues guitar is perhaps one of the longest standing American pastimes there is. Originally used because of its portability and simple design, the guitar became the standard instrument for blues music. One hundred years later its sound is etched into history and associated with blues music almost by default. Even after a century of evolution young people still seek out this art form for reasons ranging from impressing the girls, to making a million dollars as a rock star, to a simple but passionate love for the emotions the instrument can deliver.
A blues guitar lesson would not be complete without a little bit of history behind the music itself. The blues is an older art form than most may think. I’m sure it is older than I know but I believe it got a good start in the south when slaves, who had horrible lives, sought out self expression and derived a musical medium from what they had remembered from their previous lives beyond. Therefore it is originally a sad music though the myriad of derivatives we now have may not lead an average person to think so. From the blues came jazz, rhythm and blues, and rock n’ roll, and inevitably pop music. It really is a mother of modern music in many ways.
We talked about the blues progression. For your second blues guitar lesson I’d like to introduce the blues scale otherwise known as the pentatonic scale. This scale is the basis of all blues licks and blues guitar solos. If you’ve listened to Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughn, or any blues guitarist old or new you have definitely heard this scale.
Playing blues guitar is easy, well, for some. Some people will never be able to get “it” whatever “it” is. Some people have “it” but don’t realize it. Some have “it”, know they have “it”, but just don’t know how to get it out. If you are one of the later and just happen to have a guitar laying around, give this blues guitar lesson a shot and see what happens.
I would have to say that my first blues guitar lesson took place in front of a stereo system listening to a B.B. King record. When I first started playing blues guitar I would listen to blues music and rock music and try to pick out the notes I heard on my guitar. It was fun, for the first hour or so. Then I would get bored and depressed because it seemed I was getting nowhere. I had a pretty good ear so I could at least pick out the root notes of each chord in a song and could follow along to some extent. All those other notes were too much for me to comprehend at the time. Soloing on the other hand, was a giant mystery, in the realm of mystical wizards from some other planet.
It is difficult to imagine someone who has never heard of Elvis Presley, the Beatles, or the Rolling Stones. They were the pioneers of modern, popular music. Even though all these musicians derived their styles from and grew up listening to blues music, it is not difficult to find someone who has never heard of Robert Johnson or Son House. The early blues masters are long gone and due to the fact that their recordings are rare it is paramount that we make an effort to remember them and as such our own musical heritage. I would even venture to say that just listening to any of the late blues masters is probably the best blues guitar lesson one could ever have.