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Beginner’s Guide To Jamming: The Blues

By: Josh Lucas

Why the blues?

Why does nearly every guitarist have something to say about the blues? More importantly, how can we have so much to say OVER the blues? Over those same three chords? Let’s take a look and see what we can say over those chords!

Let’s pick a key, and by we, I mean me.

The key of E sounds good.

The chords we need are E, A, and B7.

Why B7? Because for some reason it’s easier to play than B.

Here are those chord shapes:

Now, what good’s the blues without some singing? Let’s teach your fingers the right notes so that you can express yourself. I’ll give you one easy open string pattern to start out with.

This is a minor pentatonic pattern, and it just sounds mean and nasty over these chords. I use it when I have something rude to say.

Let’s check out a major pentatonic pattern over these chords in case you want to say something a little sweeter.

Let’s hear a couple of examples of each.

Now let’s mix them up a little, but keep it simple.

Now, this is for the more intermediate-advanced players who want to take these two ideas and just go off!

Remember, these lines and ideas are just a jumping-off-point. 

Take the patterns, and come up with your own ideas. It can feel scary at first, or even arbitrary–just picking out notes, and seeing how they sound. 

But stick with it, because there’s nothing more beneficial to practice. What begins as a physical connection between your brain and fingers turns into measurable electricity between you and your audience–even if your audience is just your cat and family, as mine often is.

Yes, even when the gigs are a-flowin.

Because I practice! And you should, too. So take these scales, throw on an “E Blues Backing Track” on YouTube, or wherever, and let it rip!