I love playing the blues on guitar.
There are so many elements and facets to it that blues guitar never really gets boring.
…Especially the further down the rabbit hole you go with it.
I’ve found a lot of my students over the years didn’t really listen to the blues that much, but once I showed them how to play it on the guitar, they loved it.
Anyway, if you’re a die-hard blues fan or not, here are 9 cool reasons to learn the blues on guitar…
#1 – The blues is fun – My students love playing the blues because it’s so much fun on the guitar and it sounds like nothing else. It doesn’t really matter if you’re a fingerpicker, strummer, or lead player, you can have loads of fun with the blues. After 20 minutes or so of playing your usual stuff, jamming some blues can break everything up nicely.
#2 – People love to hear it – As guitarists, we are all human (well, maybe not Tommy Emmanuel, he is a cyborg I swear, ha-ha) but one thing we all love is to have others recognise and compliment what we play. The 12-bar blues shuffle is instantly recognisable to most and having someone tell you, “Oh, that sounds cool, I recognise that!” is certainly nice to hear.
#3 – The blues is the foundation of many songs – A lot of music stems from the blues. From Chuck Berry to 50s pop, punk rock, and John Mayer, the blues is there. Heck, even if you listen to songs such as T. Rex’s “Hot Love” (a 70s glam song) you will hear the blues shuffle in it. Learning the blues can be like a history lesson of music in many ways.
#4 – You don’t need big full chords – The good thing about some blues styles such as the 12-bar shuffle is that for most of it, you only need to use two fingers of the fretting hand to play it. No big chords are needed. This means if you struggle with chords such as C and D, the shuffle can be a nice light relief from this.
#5 – The structure is universal – In the 12-bar blues, the structure doesn’t change much at all. That means once you learn it, you are basically applying other ideas on top of it, which effectively saves you time. There aren’t too many styles where that is the case.
#6 – Builds confidence – It can be tricky to learn at first, but once you do nail something like the 12-bar blues shuffle and feel like you can play it anytime, it can be a big confidence booster.
#7 – The blues will make you a more accurate picker – An exciting part of blues playing is throwing in riffs, licks, and flurries of notes. To do this, your picking hand needs to be deadly accurate. Learning this style takes practice, but it definitely helped me become a more accurate picker.
#8 – You can jam the blues with others – I love to jam the blues with students. Usually one of us plays rhythm, the other plays lead, and then we swap over. This is a lot of fun. If you have any musician friends who like the blues, it is well worth jamming together as that’s great for your social and musical life.
#9 – You can have endless months, years, and even decades of fun – The blues is like an onion in that it has many layers to it. All the layers are exciting, so if you like playing it and keep working at it, you will likely never get bored of it. Just ask a legend like Clapton who seems more passionate about the blues today than ever… and he’s played the style for about 60 years!
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed that.
I don’t talk about the blues as much as I should…
Especially as I love playing it on guitar.
That’s why I filmed a course on it (which was a blast to create). If you want to, you can check it out below…
Find out more about the 12-Bar Blues Mini Masterclass course
The course is on sale for a short while.
The good thing is you can play this style on either electric or acoustic guitar.
The audio recording on the sales page was played on an electric but in the course, I teach it on an acoustic. This shows the blues works really well on both types of guitars.
Have a great week!
P.S. This post was originally taken from Dan Thorpe’s private email list. To get blog posts like this sent to you which are full of great tips to make fingerpicking, strumming, and learning guitar more enjoyable (especially if you are over 40) join Dan’s list. It’s 100% free, HERE.
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