The blues is one of the BEST genres to study as a guitarist.
Whether you’re a beginner or advanced guitarist, the blues teaches you so many valuable concepts about music and playing guitar.
So, you might be wondering, how exactly can the blues transform my playing?
In today’s episode of Acoustic Tuesday, I’m going to show you how the blues is instrumental (pun intended) in learning guitar, regardless of where you are in your guitar journey.
As always, you can watch Acoustic Tuesday at 10 am every Tuesday in these four places:
- Acoustic Life YouTube channel
- We Play Every Day Facebook Community
- Get show notes emailed directly to your inbox.
- Listen to audio-only below or in iTunes
This week on Acoustic Tuesday
Like I mentioned earlier, I’m really into teaching the blues. Besides the enjoyment I get from listening to the blues, it is a superb way to study the guitar.
Many players struggle with finding concepts, songs, or exercises to work on consistently when they first start playing.
This can lead to some negative feelings towards playing guitar — and, even worse, you start to feel defeated as you’re aimlessly wandering the fretboard looking for something to practice.
My solution to this problem many beginner guitarists have is focusing on the blues. In fact, the blues is must-know on the guitar — here’s why…
3 Ways the Blues Transforms your Guitar Playing
1. The Blues teaches Song Form
By studying the blues, you’re focusing mostly on the 12-bar blues song form. This song form shows up time and time again outside the blues genre…including in the Batman theme song!
By focusing on the blues, you’re introducing yourself to musical concepts like measures, sections, repeats, and actual musical notation.
If you know any other 12 bar blues that exist outside of the blues genre, leave them in the comments below!
2. The Blues helps Lick and Riff Practice
The blues is a great way to improve your rhythm and overall sense of understanding when it comes to timing, musical phrases, and even being able to play a song start to finish.
Most blues songs utilize a repeated pattern of sorts. To translate this into guitar speak we’ll call it a riff.
What is a guitar riff? Riffs can be any duration, but commonly they are 1 or two measures long — and often they are moveable which makes them repeatable.
In this episode, I’m showing you a preview of a blues riff that you use to practice playing the 12-bar blues. For the full video, be sure to check Acoustic Life in the last week of January for a free, 5-day Blues Challenge — details coming soon!
3. The Blues Helps Improvisation
Whether you have just started playing, or you have been playing for a long time, the blues is a gateway to improvisation.
Now, improvisation is a term that seems to be shrouded in mystery and magic. The blues sets you up to peek behind the curtain and realize that improvisation or playing a solo is much closer to your reach than you may think.
There is no better guitar soloing lesson than a 12 bar blues backing track and a minor pentatonic scale — they are a match made in blues heaven and can give you the experimentation grounds to discover that you actually can play a guitar solo.
- The best way to practice soloing is to practice improvising over the 12-bar blues.
If you have any other ways that the blues can help transform your guitar playing, let us know in the comments!
5 Electric Blues Guitarists Caught Playing Acoustic
At first, I thought this list would be really easy, but it was actually very difficult…
Because there are so many good guitarists who play both electric and acoustic! As a result, I had to make a lot of cuts.
Without further ado, here’s my list of electric blues guitarists who were caught red-handed playing acoustic guitars.
5. Buddy Guy
4. B.B. King
3. Stevie Ray Vaughn
2. Jimi Hendrix
1. Johnny Winter
Whether you are a fan of these guitarists or you’ve never heard of them before, I think we can all learn how foundationally important playing acoustic guitar is.
In fact, many of these blues guitarists started about playing acoustics!
If I left out an obvious electric guitarist who also plays acoustic, please let me know in the comments — I’d love to hear from you!
Finally, I’m going to feature some incredible blues folk art that is a must-have for any guitar den.
Grego Anderson is featured at Mojo Hand.com, a website that sells “Everything Blues.”
Grego creates tons of iconic and memorable art pieces, including but not limited to B.B. King posters, Mississippi John Hurt posters, and Robert Johnson posters.
If you want to know more about Grego, check out the full interview below:
Be sure to check out Grego’s website to purchase some awesome blues-inspired art!
Last but not least, be on the lookout for a 5-day blues challenge at the end of January. If you liked the 3 ways the blues can transform your playing, you’re going to LOVE my 5-day blues challenge.
I see no women of blues, such as Rory Block….
There might just be an episode coming soon about the women of blues! Stay tuned 😉
And many more like
Joanne Shaw taylor
FYI….. Today is Molly Tuttle’s 27th Birthday.
LOVE your show
after doing some research ,I discovered that Jimi Hendrix was playing a ” Tony Zemaitis 12 string”
not much info on it but will do a little more digging
Joe Bonamassa….he lives for the blues and is dedicated to keeping blues alive and well. He has entire accoustic concerts (e.g. Vienna opera house). My favorite and he was mentored by BBKing himself.
Day Tripper, Beatles, modified but still based on the 12 bar blues.
Gary Moore playing a classical guitar in late 70s sets
Check out this short clip from Joe Bonamassa:
SRV was playing a Gibson LG1 or L-00. The Gibson L-1 is an archtop.
Come to Mississippi! The hospitatlity alone will make your wife very happy.
Caught Red Handed…
Alvin Lee (Ten Years After)
Home movie from Northville, MI (not more than a few miles from me)
It gets interesting around the 50 second mark.
Joe Bonamasa Woke Up Dreaming
Hey Tony, love the show. It keeps me lucid on my hour long commute to and from work. As far as electric blues players playing acoustic a guy who is a little outside the box you should check out is Roy Rogers. Phenomenal player who plays slide on an amped up Martin with a flat pick and fingers sometimes. Really inspiring player and blues as blues gets.
Great show as always. You sir, are a star. I’m looking forward to the blues challenge, “I hope that I will be up to it”. As a guitar geek you may be interested in a guitar artist that will be coming to Bozeman. She may not be up your alley but, “diversity is good”. Stephanie Jones will be in your town come this April. A fine classical guitarist I must say. I have delved into classical style myself and I enjoy the music that “guitars” of all styles make. Small win, I received the new album of Molly Tuttle for Christmas and I love it! As an idea for a vacation for yourself and the Fam. Branson, Missouri does have Silver Dollar City and it is a fun time for the whole family and old time country music and bluegrass is going non-stop. And, fun rides to go on too.
Cheers, guitar geeks unite
Tony from Walnut Grove, Missouri
Not sure if there is any acoustic footage of Peter Green from the 60’s but he would be one. And how about Richard Thompson
I often play along with a singer and would love to know a picking pattern that sounds continuous rather than 1234 over and over. One Joan Baez played sounded good but they never showed her right hand enough to catch it. The one Warlyson Almeda used playing with Emily Hastings on Country Road that is in You Tube sound good but same thing. Could you show one on your Acoustic Tuesday
Thanks! I think this was the best Acoustic Tuesday yet!
How about Gary Moore?
Hea Tony, loving all this blues stuff. I was tuned to my local community radio station today and they had a guy from Austrailia on and i swore it was an old blues guy, sounded great so i went to you tube and it blew me away. You have to check him out. The name is C.W. Stoneking the song is Kapelsessie You have to hear this guy!
Tony How bout Howling Wolf and Alvin Lee to start
Love your coverage of Johnny Winter ,one of my guitar heroes since I discovered him in the 60s.
Didn’t get enough recognition for the giant he was in the blues and rock world. Said he wanted to play with a thumbpick like one of his idols Chet Atkins, not to mention his blistering slide ability.