playing instrumental blues


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Bling Dogg
08-25-2007, 12:58 AM
I'll try posting this question again in the right forum now :) I got some replies before, but would like some more feedback.

I've started to play the blues, about two months ago. But I don't like to sing, and would rather just play the guitar. It's not really necessary for blues guitarists to sing, is it? I just play at home along with some backing tracks, not in a band or anything.

So what I'm asking is if it's wise to pursue an instrumental approach to blues, without singing. Are there any instrumental blues guitarists here, or any guitarists I should know about? (I'm talking about instrumental blues guitarists, not the greats like Muddy Waters, the Kings, Hendrix, Albert Collins, etc...).

08-25-2007, 02:11 AM
Its not a question of whether its wise or not, if its what you want to do then do it. I do. But then again i don't sing because i cant (ha), but i am learning (painstakingly). If its the way you want to write and play your music then its the right thing to do. (i'm not saying no ones done this before) but if people didn't do what they want we wouldn't have rock 'n' roll, electric instruments or jazz (:O). I say go for it, its great fun. And a challenge, let your guitar tell the story man. Vox are just another instrument and aren't necessary in story telling. Hope iv encouraged you to do it!

Bling Dogg
08-25-2007, 12:02 PM
thanks for the reply, Themitch.
I asked the question because all the blues artists I've been listening to (like the ones I mentioned before) provide vocals in their songs too. I haven't heard of any instrumental blues guitarists, but I'll look around and maybe see if there are any who I can learn from. I'm sure there are some blues guitarists out there like me, who don't sing, but I just haven't found any yet.

08-25-2007, 12:51 PM
You could always find a bassist to sing for you? Or just a separate singer?

08-25-2007, 05:43 PM
John Fahey played lots of blues influenced stuff all on solo guitar with no vocals. It's not straight blues at all, but it's good.

08-25-2007, 07:21 PM
I find that blues singing adds an element that can't be replaced, but at the same time, I can dig a 15 minute instrumental blues jam, I actually love slow instrumental blues.

08-27-2007, 01:57 PM
Stevie Ray Vaughan did alot of instrumental stuff I believe, he's a great influence if you're looking into that direction

08-31-2007, 10:05 PM
Clapton never used to sing, he had Keith Relph, John Mayall, and Jack Bruce do it for him. He didn't start singing until he started Derek And The Dominos.

08-31-2007, 10:08 PM
Acoustic blues music is pretty cool. The thing to remember with it is that you don't necessarily need to be a good singer to be a good blues singer though. It's one thing if you don't like to sing, but if you just don't think that your voice sounds good, then go for it and practice singing.

Also, you could just have someone else sing for you, instead of doing it yourself.

08-31-2007, 10:13 PM
if you like acoustic blues check out Lonnie Johnson and Eddie Lang. SRV as mentioned above has some great intrumentals too. Check out Hendrix's Driving South too.

Bling Dogg
09-01-2007, 10:11 AM
I don't think my voice is that bad, I just don't like to sing. I know a few blues artists who don't have amazing voices but still sing; I could do that too, but I'm not too interested in singing. I always play alone too, so I won't even have anyone else to sing for me.

And I'll try those suggestions you guys gave me. I listen to Hendrix all the time, but I forgot about that song "Drivin' South", I'm definitely going to learn to play that song. And I just started getting into SRV's stuff, so I'll see what songs I can find to use as examples.

Another good thing I've found are some blues guitarists' (amateur and professional) songs put up on places like soundclick or myspace. In the last few days I've found a lot of uploaded blues songs that are instrumentals. And I've been listening to some blues recordings from people here too. So this will all help me find a way to play instrumental blues and make some cool songs.

09-01-2007, 05:02 PM
You can play instrumental blues but I don't think there's many straight instrumental blues artists, Freddy King, Roy Buchanan, Gary Moore do good instrumental songs if you check them out.

If you're planing to get a band happening though you should get used t singing or get afellow band-member to sing. IMO one of the funnest parts about playing blues is doing the old standards that most of which have vocals.

I dunno, I like to sing but it's hard to do in front of people and there's certainly lots of instrumental blues songs that you can jam out to.

You'll want to have lots of good improv skills to keep it from getting repetative though, add in some wah wah and delay bits and slide and double stops and volume swells and pinch harmonics and anything you can think of to keep it interesting.

Bling Dogg
09-01-2007, 05:54 PM
^Yeah, I agree with you. I was practicing improv over blues backing tracks for about a month or two, and got so bored of it because I found myself doing the same licks in the same keys over and over again. I got so frustrated, feeling I wasn't learning or accomplishing anything that I found it hard to play guitar for about 2 weeks.

I gave blues a rest for a while, went back to classic rock, then now I'm going back slowly into blues, but this time I'm trying not to be too repetitive. I'll have to find ways to keep my playing interesting.

The thing is that I don't have people to play with. There's only one guy I know who plays guitar at my church, but he's not into blues. So for right now I don't have a band or anything. But I'll look around, do some networking, and see if I can find someone who I can play the blues with, and who may sing.

I'm just starting out right now. I've been playing guitar for only 3 years, but in that time I was too busy at university to really spend enough time on it. I've only been seriously playing since around May. For now I don't mind playing alone, but in future I'll find a band.

09-01-2007, 06:28 PM

This site has tonnes of great backing tracks to practice to. All diferent tempos, keys and ****. Very good for practicing over new stuff and getting out of your comfort zones. I find lots of stuff on there really challenging to improv over well.

You can't beat jamming with areal band though. Start looking for other musicians to jam with and you'll have tonnes of fun.

Apart from that you're doing the right thing, just listen to as much blues as you can and when you hear licks and stuff you like figure out how to play it. Learning stuff by ear as opposed to TABS will help you discover what notes do which etc. easier and give you a greater grasp of the fretboard. Pinch licks and chord progressions and combine them and change them and eventually you'll get your own style.

Bling Dogg
09-02-2007, 11:21 PM
Thanks for sharing that link. That site's amazing, there's so many backing tracks!! :D That'll keep me busy for a while.

From now on I'm going to practice more seriously, and pick up more licks by listening to more guitarists. I'm going to come up with a hardcore practice plan and schedule using the help I got here. Thanks again.