Richness of Content: Developed by Hal Leonard and the Musician's Institute (MI), this is by far one of the best blues learning books I have investigated. The author and artist, Keith Wyatt, did an excellent job of integrating so many aspects from so many styles; and although the book is called "Blues Guitar Soloing," it involves plenty of detail around rhythm chops and chord progressions as well (not just lead playing using certain scales). The book includes on-line audio access (that you can download or streamed live) and is divided into techniques and patterns, 12-bar soloing, harmony and form, various tempo constructions, blues fusions (e.g., R&B, chicken picking, rock 'n' roll, etc.), and how to develop your own unique sound with various equipment choices - over 200 pages worth.
As with most teaching books, it begins slowly with essential skills (e.g., warming up, tempo, etc.), which is difficult to escape since various levels of competency will utilize the resource to improve skills. But Blues Guitar Soloing moves quickly and seamlessly into the meat and potatoes… then eventually the gravy and all the fixings, by touching upon elementary theory in a non-threatening way, explaining how the blues notes (Blue 3rd, b5th, b7th and blue-note pentatonic) each has a distinctive blues feel within a player's vocabulary and how altering chord progressions slightly can produce a completely different mood.
It's at that point when Mr. Wyatt moves into a solid blues structure of the shuffle, call-and-response phrasing, vocalization… and even visualization of what you are playing and want to play… that forms the basis for more fluent and skilled soloing. Later he does address amalgamating rhythm with lead, but if the reader considers this early on, a lot more "one-man-band" possibilities open up for enhanced soloing.
Once the basis of rhythm chops and progressions are under way, Mr. Wyatt takes on the finer details of note playing, including flatpicking, slapping, raking, bending, vibrato and hybrid picking, among others, and teaches how these can be applied at various points within blues progression (to achieve the most when accenting and bringing attention to one's soloing).
The emotional side then is explored when feeling your way though a solo and working around a Blues core while expanding 'color notes' with the 6th and 9th of a scale. These concepts then are taken to the next level through the easy-to-understand CAGED system of transposing, so that you can take your lead licks and ideas to other keys (and positions of the guitar neck) with very little thinking so that you can focus on expression.
Much is addressed when it comes to 12-bar soloing, including harmony, call-and-response, making changes between choruses, pickups and turnarounds, and even how to begin and end a great solo; but what is most interesting is how the greats (Freddie King, Billy Butler, Albert King, B.B. King, etc.) all have similar, yet unique takes on each idea - fully presented within the text and audio files. All those subtleties in licks provide the student a greater arsenal of improvisational possibilities. With appreciation of individual influence, Mr. Wyatt then explores "flavors and textures" in blues by adding double stops (playing two notes at the same time for greater power and emphasis), soloing with chords, accenting your solos with horn-style chops, and producing a thick heavy tone with open string positions.
The resource continues to become more interesting as Mr. Wyatt expands the blues vocabulary by moving beyond the 12-bar shuffle with 8-bar and 16-bar blues, uptown blues harmony, one-chord blues (which Hendrix, John Lee Hooker and Muddy Waters used to great effect), and integrating a 12/8 meter. He then breaks free of the very traditional blues found in most learning resources by discussing "types" of blues and what makes them unique in both playing style and arrangement, including soul-blues, chicken-picking, Latin blues, and rock 'n' roll (a la Chuck Berry). The tab and audio instruction for each of these make it easy and fun to get on board quickly, whereas Mr. Wyatt's listening recommendations takes the student into each area full force if desired. // 9
Style: Although most blues instruction books do cover aspects such as sliding, vibrato, what makes up a blues scale, etc., the overall presentation is more complete in this resource than in others I have read. There is sufficient detail on each aspect, but without boring the musician by excessive repeating - nor intimidating by creating practices that are unwarranted in technicality. Each example hits home clearly and then progresses seamlessly into the next concept for a very thorough overview of traditional to more modern Blues applications.
As important, Mr. Wyatt explains concepts very simply without over-doing the theory; and when theory is discussed, it's so straight forward that even a neophyte either will understand from the onset, or will grasp the ideas without any further formal learning and simply by listening. // 9
Overall Impression: What makes this resource so valuable is the overall diversity of lessons and concepts. It might be suggested that giving only one or two examples and then moving on is its weak link, but if the student wants to get into more of a particular area, Mr. Wyatt offers listening recommendations that can be found easily on the Internet. Consequently, the short and varied lessons make the book easy to apply at one's own pace, and yet one concept flows seamlessly into the next to offer an overall rich experience so that the student can decide what aspects s/he wishes to focus on. // 9