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HOME / BLUES FOR BEGINNERS PART 4

Title: Blues Guitar - for beginners (article 4 of 5..or 6)
Author: Michael Long (axeface@hotmail.com)
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Hello and welcome to the fourth article of "Blues for Beginners".  It's been a 
few months since the last article, and thank you to all who have emailed me 
with suggestions and praise - keep it coming :)

Last time we met, the article focused strongly on the beginnings of the solo, and
with any luck, this month I'll be showing you:

* blues notes in the solo
* tricks and bends
* a crafted solo

If you remember back to the previous article (# 3), you'll rememeber that i
outlined 5 forms that can be used to create the solo.  The notes outlined there are
basically your typical blues scale, minus the 'blue'(or flattenedthird and fifth) 
notes. These notes can be very useful in creating a really bluesy sound to your 
solos, plus the fact that they sound pretty sweet.

OK - so working in the key of A again, lets look at the main form.


Form 1: Main            
E----5--------8-------|
B----5--------8-------|  This is how it is written in the previous article.
G----5-----7----------|    
D----5-----7----------|  The blue notes will add that extra bit of flavour, and 
A----5-----7----------|    are in the diagram below 
E----5--------8-------|


Form 1: Main            
E----5-----------8-------| 
B----5-----------8-------|   Note that i have place the blue notes in brackets 
G----5-------7--(8)------|    so to keep them seperate - they don't fit into
D----5-------7-----------|     everything, so just play and listen, and with
A----5--(6)--7-----------|      any luck, you'll pick it up fairly fast.
E----5------------8------|

Now, I could start talking here about hybrid blues/mixolydian scales, different
modes and all things theoretical, but this is meant to be fun, and considering
this is only an intro to the blues, who cares.  Maybe in some future articles
i'll get more advanced (email with ideas :)
PLay the two forms - start off with the normal form, without the blue notes, and then
go into the blue notes form.  If you want to spice this little exercise up a little, 
have a look at the picking pattern below.  It's veyr basic, and can really help in
making your picking faster and more accurate.

Alternate Picking Pattern # 1
E---8--5----5--------------------------------------------------------------------|
B---------8---8--5--8--5---5-----------------------------------------------------|
G------------------------7---7--5--7--5---5--------------------------------------|
D---------------------------------------7----7--5--7--5----5---------------------|
A-------------------------------------------------------7----7--5--7--5---5------|
E-----------------------------------------------------------------------8---8----|

As before, this is the main form (1) in the key of A - so, you can move it to
whatever key you wish. Remember also that this can be played both up and down the
strings - ie: from high to low (as written) and low to high. Also, try adding in 
the blue notes on every alternate run - ie: high to low without the blue notes, then
low to high with the blue notes.  Or mix it up a little.  If you use this as a bit
of a warm up then you will notice an improvement in your playing pretty fast.

That is the very basics of the blue notes, and of course, they can be found in
each of the five patterns, but as a bit of homework, I'll let you all find them - 
just follow the same rules as above (flat 5th, in the key of A - it's Eb) and you 
can't go wrong (unless of course i am wrong).

Anyway....moving on to some tricks of the solo.  This really is the fun part of
playing the blues.  If you can master some of these little tricks, then you should
be on your way to playing the blues with style.

To begin, let's go to the main type of 'flair' in soloing - the bend.  Often, you'll
find that guitarists either bend too much, or don't know how to bend, or simply
put the bend into the wrong place.  Technique is everything, but if you can't be
bothered following the norm, then do what is most comfortable (though that's bad
advice, for some it seems to work more easily).

OK - before we begin, there are a few little rules to follow - firstly, you shouldn't
bend every note in the scale - it sounds bad, gets boring very fast, and makes you 
look like a bit of a fool.  Below are a few bends that work really well, and you
will find are played in most blues solos (we are still in the key of A).

   (the note in the brackets is the note to bend up to. below is more of little
                     licks to use in every day practice)

Common Blues Bends -
  Form 1                      Form 2                
E---------------------------10(12)---8------8(9)--------|
B-----------------------10--------------10--------------|
G---7(8)--7--5------------------------------------------|
D---------------7---------------------------------------|
A-------------------------------------------------------|
E-------------------------------------------------------|

Sorry there isn't a lot there, but it's a difficult thing to type out.  If you're 
really keen about bends and tricks, spend $20 and buy one of those Beyond Basics
books, or some kind of learning book about tricks - i can't write everything out, 
and it's almost time to wrap up this article.

I know that i said that this was a 5 article series, and it still may be, however,
there are still a few concepts hanging about in my mind that i need to get out, so...
with any luck i'll stop at number 6.  The crafted solo will come next, though will
be fairly light on, and this next article will focus mainly on 'target notes' - what to
hit where.  There may be some more theory involved, so look out, but it should be
fun.  Don;t forget to keep the emails coming - it's get to get feedback and know that
there are people reading these articles.

Remember to keep on strummin' and email me with questions, comments, anything at all.
(axeface@hotmail.com)

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