#1
Hey Guys

I just started getting serious about trying to get my blues skills top notch. I am not a beginner guitar player. I am very familiar with scales and figured I can just start learning blues scales and off I go. I started with E minor blues scale and added the "blue note" here and there in my playing to blues it up.
However, my playing still feels stale and it just feels like I am playing my old major scale rock riffs and same boring pentatonic blues stuff everyone can do. I am making some progress but something just seems missing. What are they big blues players doing that sounds so great (the Jeff Becks, Joe Bonamassas, Eric Claptons etc....) Are they mixing these blues scales with major and minor and switching? I've been reading a lot but I still feel I cant get a straight answer about what seems to be a blues secret.
What would be a good starting point (remember I am not a beginner) with the right scales or links to good youtube lessons explaining more theory along with playing.

Thanks
~J
#2
Your playing feels stake because that's exactly what you're doing - if your just allowing your fingers to autopilot through familiar shapes then you're not really playing. There needs to be an input from you, the guitarist. Any music you create is a result of your thoughts, emotions and actions. You don't even need a guitar to create something but what you do need is intent, a guitar is just a tool at the end of the day and like any tool you need to know what you intend to create with it when you wield it. Even non guitarists can sing along to a guitar solo, or even make one up - you need to be able to do the same. Figure out what it is you want to say first before moving your fingers and singing something out first is a great way to do that.

A scale is just a set of notes that work well together, but music doesn't start with a scale and it certainly doesn't start with staring at a bunch of dots or fretboard positions wondering which one you should "start" on. The scale positions are very helpful when it comes to figuring out the best position to use over a certain chord and stuff like that but it's not going to create anything for you. Best thing to do is put the guitar down, put on a backing track and just listen to it. Listen to the chords, listen to the changes, feel the rhythm then figure out what you want to hear over it. Also listen to and learn lots of other blues solos and work out for yourself what it is they do well. You don't need to know the theory, or indeed any theory, to do that - it just helps a great deal when it comes to categorising and recalling everything.

If you can't create a solo without the guitar in your hand you'll never be able to create one with it either. At the moment the guitar is getting in the way, you need to spend sone time teaching yourself to "think music", and that's hard with the guitar in your hand because it's too easy to fall back into autopilot mode.
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#3
It's stale to you because you've heard it a million times. To someone who hears you for the first time it sounds new (hopefully).

It has been said "boredom is the sign of mastery". There is some truth to this.
"When I do good, I feel good. When I do bad, I feel bad. This is my religion." -- Abraham Lincoln
#4
If you already understand the 12 bar blues structure, minor/major pentatonics and the blues scale the best thing you can do is listen to the blues and try to pick out the patterns/techniques that are most commonly used and apply them to your fretboard. This may at first sound stale, however once you get a good grasp of these basics you will be able to start expanding on them.

Listening to and copying how other musicians (not just guitarists) approach the blues will help you figure out how you would like to approach the blues.
"Swords, nature's hell sticks."- Trip Fisk
#5
Quote by steven seagull
Your playing feels stake because that's exactly what you're doing - if your just allowing your fingers to autopilot through familiar shapes then you're not really playing. There needs to be an input from you, the guitarist. Any music you create is a result of your thoughts, emotions and actions. You don't even need a guitar to create something but what you do need is intent, a guitar is just a tool at the end of the day and like any tool you need to know what you intend to create with it when you wield it. Even non guitarists can sing along to a guitar solo, or even make one up - you need to be able to do the same. Figure out what it is you want to say first before moving your fingers and singing something out first is a great way to do that.

A scale is just a set of notes that work well together, but music doesn't start with a scale and it certainly doesn't start with staring at a bunch of dots or fretboard positions wondering which one you should "start" on. The scale positions are very helpful when it comes to figuring out the best position to use over a certain chord and stuff like that but it's not going to create anything for you. Best thing to do is put the guitar down, put on a backing track and just listen to it. Listen to the chords, listen to the changes, feel the rhythm then figure out what you want to hear over it. Also listen to and learn lots of other blues solos and work out for yourself what it is they do well. You don't need to know the theory, or indeed any theory, to do that - it just helps a great deal when it comes to categorising and recalling everything.

If you can't create a solo without the guitar in your hand you'll never be able to create one with it either. At the moment the guitar is getting in the way, you need to spend sone time teaching yourself to "think music", and that's hard with the guitar in your hand because it's too easy to fall back into autopilot mode.


This
#6
nice post steven

there are some cool youtube videos if you type "country licks" , "blues licks" etc which demonstrate a lot of ideas

i feel like i'd be in the same spot in the future (i know ****-all music). learning to sing would be cool
Last edited by percydw at Apr 10, 2015,
#7
The only time in my life I ever even tried to play scales was learning to play sax in school, because they made me. I hated it. Soon as nobody was paying attention I started doodling...

Listen to Duanne Allman, especially the song "Loan ME A Dime" by Boz Scaggs, some of the best blues guitar I've ever heard. Others...Robin Trower, Billy Gibbons, David Gilmour...Billy Gibbons is another of my favorites. A lot of his stuff is a lot more melodic than scales.

Use your instrument as another voice. A lot for the time if I have to do a lead to a song I've never played I'll try to stay close to the vocal melody line. Melodic as I can, forget about scales. Most of the time I try to not even think about what I'm playing, let my fingers go and run with whatever pops into my head.
Hmmm...I wonder what this button does...
#8
blues is deceptive in how simplistic it appears at first. hey 5 notes maybe throw in one or two more hear and there and bam blues solo. oops... wrong.... damn.

i find that players tend to have a preconceived notion as to what a blues lick is supposed to sound like and that is what they play. no shock that it often sounds stale. cliches don't make for greatness.

great blues usually comes down to phrasing and that is something that a tab guide or an internet video can't teach. even a guitar teacher can only do so much to teach that. it's something you have to develop and how it goes defines you as a player. bends, finger vibrato, how long you hold a note, how you pick it etc will make or break any lead you play especially blues. unlike say a metal lead you can't just play it faster and throw in a whammy bar noise to get by.

think outside the box so to speak. i do some blues licks with finger tapping for instance tht sound great but is't something BB would do. good blues isn't something you play it's something you feel.
#9
^ +1 (though I like metal leads too )
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#10
Start transcribing solos you like!! this way you will develop your ears plus will get a taste of scales your favorite players use. look for intervals what notes do they play over what chord, don't think about scales at this point, focus on single not. take the basic pentatonic scale and see what notes Joe Bonammsa adds to this scale and so on. you'll get new sounds that will take you away form your current playing.
#11
Quote by Dave_Mc
^ +1 (though I like metal leads too )


love metal it just that you can't really do a pinch harmonic whammyed squel in a blues lick to cover a mistake or when you run out of ideas and have it work.
#12
yeah. well, maybe if you're gary moore.
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Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Et tu, br00tz?
#13
Quote by Dave_Mc
yeah. well, maybe if you're gary moore.


dude gary moore never had to resort to cheap whammy tricks cuz he's gary moore. actually gary is one of my fav blues players and i love that he uses a more metal tone on many of his blues songs.
#14
The best Blues players are having a conversation with the listener, not ripping scales or riffs. Lots of great guitarists and sax players have mastered this and put their stank on a solo that moves listeners emotionally. Take each song and craft a solo that tells a story that compliments the lyrics.
"Your sound is in your hands as much as anything. It's the way you pick, and the way you hold the guitar, more than it is the amp or the guitar you use." -- Stevie Ray Vaughan

"Anybody can play. The note is only 20 percent. The attitude of the motherfucker who plays it is 80 percent." -- Miles Davis

Guthrie on tone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmohdG9lLqY
#15
Quote by Cajundaddy
The best Blues players are having a conversation with the listener, not ripping scales or riffs. Lots of great guitarists and sax players have mastered this and put their stank on a solo that moves listeners emotionally. Take each song and craft a solo that tells a story that compliments the lyrics.


amen couldn't agree more.
#16
Quote by monwobobbo
dude gary moore never had to resort to cheap whammy tricks cuz he's gary moore. actually gary is one of my fav blues players and i love that he uses a more metal tone on many of his blues songs.


me too, i love gary moore
I'm an idiot and I accidentally clicked the "Remove all subscriptions" button. If it seems like I'm ignoring you, I'm not, I'm just no longer subscribed to the thread. If you quote me or do the @user thing at me, hopefully it'll notify me through my notifications and I'll get back to you.
Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Et tu, br00tz?
#17
"Your sound is in your hands as much as anything. It's the way you pick, and the way you hold the guitar, more than it is the amp or the guitar you use." -- Stevie Ray Vaughan

"Anybody can play. The note is only 20 percent. The attitude of the motherfucker who plays it is 80 percent." -- Miles Davis

Guthrie on tone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmohdG9lLqY
#18
I had the same problem and it caused me to become frustrated and switch what i was practicing altogether.

My advice would be to learn some new licks and chop them halfway down the middle, then try combining them over a backing track. Eventually you'll get a feel for playing the blues thats outside of the chord structures.
#19
Major leading into a bit of minor over the i chord,Minor over the iv chord and major over the v chord.Add the major third into your minor licks and leave space between your phrases.Create tension and the resolve it.Ask a question and then answer it.Add a nice little turnaround in bar eleven.There are many many options for you.Think of each chord as a seperate entity and discover your options for each chord.When you get comfortable with this you can start adding more jazzy flavours and outside playing.One really good thing to use are the arppeggios(or chord tones) for your dominant 7th chords.Hope this helps.
#20
Things that work pretty well for me:
1. experiment with the respective major and minor pentatonics for the IV and V chord. Especially the major pentatonic. This one is simple theory (yet very handy) the next one is musicianship:
2. treat your solo as a melody. With a beginning-end, direction, hooks/motifs, climax, etc... catchy music is not complex - you don't need a lot of notes and you need to leavesome room to breathe. If there's a lot of room - you can stick some flashy tricks in there... but always remember what's important. They say that a solo needs to serve the song, when you're playing a solo you need to serve the solo's melody. Yep, playing guitar is never about the guitarists...

2nd post int the forum, yay!
#21
Some of the best advice I've heard is to imagine what a drummer would play and put the notes to the rhythym. I had an improvisational epiphany when I figured this out.
#22
Quote by jlowe22
Some of the best advice I've heard is to imagine what a drummer would play and put the notes to the rhythym. I had an improvisational epiphany when I figured this out.


I'm going to try this as soon as i get home! Sounds interesting man.
Since 2002 using UG. This page teached me how to play guitar and help'd me to embrace the passion of my life: Music.
#23
Eric Clapton said BB King told him years ago that it's not what you play, it's what you choose not to play that makes the blues work. Blues scales are not complex but the feel of the blues is hard to get a handle on. You have to un-learn the tricks, the hammer on, sweep picking and most of all the speed and get down to tone and feel. As was said here earlier, playing the blues is like having a conversation with other musicians and the audience. If you don't pause every few notes you can't hear what the other musicians are saying (playing) and you are not relating to the audience.

I struggle with playing the blues. I know the basic blues scales and can get it together about 50% of the time but I get too distracted in my playing and will often "abandon ship" in the middle of a decent solo and fall back on a few fancy techniques to cover the fact that I really just lost the vibe.

There are a lot of great technical guitar players but relatively few great blues guitarist.
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#24
Quote by Rickholly74
Eric Clapton said BB King told him years ago that it's not what you play, it's what you choose not to play that makes the blues work. Blues scales are not complex but the feel of the blues is hard to get a handle on. You have to un-learn the tricks, the hammer on, sweep picking and most of all the speed and get down to tone and feel. As was said here earlier, playing the blues is like having a conversation with other musicians and the audience. If you don't pause every few notes you can't hear what the other musicians are saying (playing) and you are not relating to the audience.

I struggle with playing the blues. I know the basic blues scales and can get it together about 50% of the time but I get too distracted in my playing and will often "abandon ship" in the middle of a decent solo and fall back on a few fancy techniques to cover the fact that I really just lost the vibe.

There are a lot of great technical guitar players but relatively few great blues guitarist.


gary moore and johnny winter may disagree with some fo this. you can play blues licks fast and make it work. of course you still have to play with style and know when to slow t down.

i think adhering to traditional tried and true methods is what holds the blues back at times and results in cliche tired playing. i use finger tapping, whammy bar and whatever else i can think of while playing blues. if you listen to Hendrix he did a lot of this kind of thing (Hear My Train A Coming)
#25
Both posters above are right, in a way...
You can have great technique and be an innovator when you play the blues - but you still need to have a good sense of rhythm and leave space. Jeff Beck and the late Roy Buchanan are still miles ahead of most younger players.

Not sure that fancy guitar techniques are the thing that will push Blues music forward. How about a few new songs and modern production standards?
#26
Quote by monwobobbo
gary moore and johnny winter may disagree with some fo this. you can play blues licks fast and make it work. of course you still have to play with style and know when to slow t down.

i think adhering to traditional tried and true methods is what holds the blues back at times and results in cliche tired playing. i use finger tapping, whammy bar and whatever else i can think of while playing blues. if you listen to Hendrix he did a lot of this kind of thing (Hear My Train A Coming)

I agree.I sometimes add different flavours into my blues using Mixalydian,bebop,outside notes and arps among other things.