Getting Better


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05-08-2006, 09:03 PM
Just wanted to get some feedback about how to get better at playing the blues. I already practice a lot, but progress is slow going for me for whatever reason. I have the rest of my life to get better, but it seems hard to progress since all the songs I love (i.e. those songs that make me want to play the blues) are too hard for me to practice. Examples--SRV is my favorite guitar player ever, and I want to learn Texas Floods. Not happening. Same thing with Red House by Hendrix.

Are there any real beginner blues songs?

05-08-2006, 09:22 PM
Practice the minor pentatonic scale religiously, speed up all the time, keep pushing yourself. Learn the different patterns and extensions and practice them all until you can play them lightning fast in your sleep. Up and down, back and forth, hammer-ons pull-offs. This will make songs like Red House, The Sky is Crying, etc. so much more simple. Not all blues arrangements are based off of these but 90% of them are and the two songs I listed above are. The first songs which I found to be easy after becoming somewhat speedy in playing minor pentatonic scales up and down the fretboard were Led Zeppelin songs such as Black Dog, Rock and Roll, and Since I've Been Loving You. Practice Black Dog along with your minor pentatonic scale ( A minor pentatonic in this case) and you can really see what I'm talking about.

05-08-2006, 09:31 PM
Try to get Hey Joe. Its based on the E minor Pentatonic scale and is not all that difficult to play (at least the version thats on the album isn't, the way Hendrix played it live is another story).

05-08-2006, 10:06 PM
Yeah Hey Joe is a good one. And I dont know if you like B.B. King but the Thrill is Gone is a good one to learn. Rhythm is pretty basic and its fun to improvise over.

05-09-2006, 09:16 AM
You should devote yourself to improvising rather than learning songs note for note, if you aren't already doing that, IMO.

05-09-2006, 01:33 PM
as for me when playing blues stuff, you should practice on bending and the "blues" type vibrato

05-09-2006, 05:48 PM
^^^Yes, accurate bends are very important.

05-09-2006, 08:23 PM
You should devote yourself to improvising rather than learning songs note for note, if you aren't already doing that, IMO.

To be honest with you, I agree completely.....HOWEVER, the reason I wanted to learn some songs note for note first was just to familiarize myself with some of the phrasing that blues artists frequently use. What has always drawn me to the blues is it's lack of a consistent rythm--it's more like talking through your guitar, IMO. I'm just trying to learn the "language," so to speak. :D

BTW, thank you to every one for the feedback so far. I didn't expect this much in one day since this forum is a lot slower than, say, the Pit.

^^I can bend pretty accurately but vibrato is still something of a mystery to me. I notice you called it blues-style--is it significantly different? A friend told me that I would need to make my vibrato "wider." Is that what you're talking about? No biggie but I have noticed that I can never get the tone that I'm looking for.

And yeah I practice pentatonic, but I haven't tried it with a metronome yet....probably room for improvement there.

Thanks again everyone. :)

05-09-2006, 08:32 PM
^^^I understand what you mean by learning the "language" and stuff. I went about doing that by listening to and playing along with SRV and BB King and people like that. I try to pick up licks here and there and get a feel for their style without completely learning songs exactly how they are played. That's just the lazy side of me coming out, though, lol. Improvising is something that is a necessity when playing the blues, though, so practice that as well as learning songs note for note.

05-09-2006, 08:39 PM
Yeah I have a friend who has been playing since he was about 9 (he's 32 now--and disgustingly good) and he made up a mix CD for me to practice improving over. Ha. I'm not very good though. One day......

05-09-2006, 08:42 PM
It just takes lots of practice, man. Keep at it. :cheers:

05-09-2006, 08:46 PM
Hey to help with that vibrato watch this ... and about how Blues is kind of a conversation with your guitar you got to listen to B.B. King. He doesnt have to play a bunch of notes but he def. plays the right ones.

B.B. King Guitar Lesson (

05-09-2006, 09:09 PM
Wow. Thank you IrishBlues. That video is amazing--BB King is pretty much the man. At least to me, him, SRV, and Hendrix are the pantheon. I know there are others, but wow.....

If I ever dig up something really cool, I'll return the favor.

05-12-2006, 05:47 AM
This is my opinion on playing improvement, its coming from more of a shredder angle, but it may be helpful anyway.
I actually found that learning really difficult songs note for note, regardless of whether they are blues or not, will improve your technique a lot. even if its sounds like **** at first, its a really good way to build up speed and fluidity (much better than technique exercises). The thing is though, once your technique has been improved, when you go back to learning easy/moderate difficulty blues songs, they seem much much easier, infact everything about your playing seems to have improved.
Now im just going on personal experience here, and it is only a method which has worked for me, so that doesnt neccesarily mean it will work for you. But really, by challeging yourself with difficult peices, you can only get better, right? As long as you have some basic technique to begin with you should be open to improvement from this method.
But dont forget to practice your improvisation skills as well, otherwise they may suffer. you could also try learning theory, which i found just makes everything fall into place a lot easier, and helps your understanding and compostional skills.

05-12-2006, 09:45 AM
^^^Those are all good points.