Hey Everyone,

Alright, so i recently discovered the biggest problem in my blues playing. I have come to the conclusion that i'm an excellent player technically, i know how to play, and what to play, and i've got the emotion. But i've never seemed to be able to play like the great blues players. Here's why... i don't know when to play.

What i mean is that when i'm jamming to a chord progression or shuffle or 12-bar, and let's say the chord changes to C. A good blues player, would start with a C note and then proceed onto any playing he'd do up the scale. (probably hitting some C notes along the way)

I can't do that. And that's why my playing suffers. See i was always aware that this was something that was important to blues playing. But i figured it would come naturally. Well, it didn't and here's why. I didn't jam enough. I never jammed to records, i rarely got the chance to jam with other muscians. As a result my improvisation (while excellent in form, theory knowledge and emotion) sucks.

So, i intend to start working on this by jamming to records. I would greatly appreciate it if you could suggest some songs that helped you develop your blues playing in this way. Ones with clear, solid, (and preferably not too fast) chord progressions or base riffs.

I truly appreciate all help. Thank you.


PS: I'm aware this might lean a bit more towards the "music theory" area of the site. But i think it will do the most good here in blues. Plus i believe the question will be answered better.
jam to some

miles davis
charlie parker
louis armstrong

i know theyre jazz but its very fun and rewarding playing blues over a jazz backdrop

for straight blues then prlly

buddy guy
bb king
freddie king
albert collins
stevie ray vaughan
jimi hendrix
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You're joking right?

It's like comparing sex to sticking your penis in a blender.

Try out some Robert Johnson, he's got great progressions.
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Quote by Falcatarius
What i mean is that when i'm jamming to a chord progression or shuffle or 12-bar, and let's say the chord changes to C. A good blues player, would start with a C note and then proceed onto any playing he'd do up the scale. (probably hitting some C notes along the way)

I disagree with this... while a C can certainly be played over a C chord, it's not the most interesting choice. Everybody's playing the root, and the fifth isn't a terribly gripping note choice either. One problem many beginning musicians have is their solos sound like they're just running up and down scales: they start on the root, go up and down a little bit, and start on the root of the next chord.

Your two notes that you should try hitting first on a chord change are your third and seventh - in this case, an E or a Bb over the C chord.

To start off, make a list of the thirds and sevenths of your chords, and see if there are any interesting lines. Let's take a blues in G, and look at the three chords: I IV and V.
Chord 3rd 7th
G (I) B F
C (IV) E Bb
D (V) F# C

Your first chord change is from G to C. You have two half step movements: B - Bb, and F - E. Either one will sound good and seem like you are paying attention to the changes.You're playing a little lick at the end of the fourth bar, and you emphasize the B, then hit Bb as you hit the C chord in the fifth bar. Then, you could perhaps play through the two bars of the IV (C), and hit an E, then give a half step bend up to an F over the G chord.

From the G to the D chord, you can choose to emphasize B-C, or F-F# in a similar manner.

Once you have a good grasp of this, you can also start on the root or fifth. Since your playing will now be varied, if you start on the root every now and then, nobody will say anything, since your playing is more varied and sophisticated. You can also consider starting on an extension like the 9th to create new, interesting sounds. When you want to improvise over any song, really take a look at the chord changes and try to explore the ways you can create interesting movement.

As for learning when to play, I learned by learning solos of other people. Preferably not by tabs: I started learning solos by Duane Allman out of necessity (they weren't always tabbed out). Then, I realized that the solos stayed with me better if I had to take them down myself, so I learned Jimmy Page and Clapton solos off records, then progressing on to other artists. I started getting a feeling for places to play, where to stop playing, how to build a solo. As you find artists you like, you take what you like from each one and begin using this knowledge to build your own style.

Duane Allman said one of his big inspirations for his extended jamming came from Miles Davis' "Kind of Blue" album. Jazz is certainly helpful as well, even listening to horn players.
(Slightly outdated) Electronic and classical compositions by m'self: Check 'em out
Last edited by psychodelia at Jul 17, 2006,
I started out by jamming to Red Hot Chili Peppers. But I really learned about hitting the root note when it came ot learning Since I've Been Loving You by Led Zeppelin.
Simply, the world was too small for a man of his ambition.
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GuitarSymphony you are my hero!
stevie ray has a lot of really good songs. listen to texas flood. that was the first blues song i learned how to play right. i used to have a really bad problem with timing. i tried using a metronome, but then i just got distracted and flicked it like a cat. i played along with the album over and over, and i finally got it. i also had a problem with bending before. i didnt know if i was bendin 1/2, 1/4, 1, 2... i was just totally lost. that song corrected a lot of my blues errors. it also helped me be able to improv easier
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