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Tips on playing the Blues


In the Zone/Backstage Pass
Aug 3, 2002
Mebbe I should give Gary another chance then. :)

I love Gary's blues playing now. Listen to the song "I Had A Dream" from his album last year, "Close As You Get". Very Peter Green-ish and Roy Buchanan-like. It's one of his best slow blues songs to date. Though phrasing is extremely important in slow blues, it's just about as important in any kind of blues soloing, in my opinion.


New member
Nov 3, 2008
interesting....well I know I dig SRV but I don't want to steal from him...that just gets you nothing bust disrespect...go figure. I guess cause I love SRV I dig Albert King I'm finding....i dig Duane Allman's playing but not his tone....I also love Clapton....all of Clapton....

Anything you can steal from SRV will only make you a better guitar player and more than likely it won't sound all that much like SRV. BB King gets the most out of less. Damn, BB can make my eye's "well up" with a 9 seconds "B note". They're all great and their styles are very different- yet they all play the blues!


New member
Feb 3, 2007
BB is the opitomy of less = more. That man can play one note and it just hits you in such a way..... man it's hard to explain in words.


New member
Sep 19, 2002
Zhang's rules for playin' bone-chillin' blues:

Seriously, if you want to play intense blues, it's really simple. Imagine the last time you were so torn up about something that you cried for at least an hour. Remember what you sounded like when you cried -- the rhythm, the pitches, the loud wailing moments, the quiet weeping, the pounding of your fist on a table in head-shaking frustration, writhing in your chair/bed/floor/gutter because you can't shake this horrible feeling off.

If you can do that, then try make your guitar SOUND like that. If you can, then you will automatically do the following without thinking:

1) Not play "too many" notes.
2) Play with plenty of dynamics.
3) Play the right notes with the right bends, etc.

Another thing you will probably do is frequently and deliberately(especially on bends) play off pitch, usually a bit sharp. This really gives a held bend a true wailing quality. Also play out-of-scale notes, and rips and slides up and down the strings, just make atonal noise at the right moments. (You'll know when those moments are -- those are the moments you'll be remembering the frustration and the fist pounding.)

You will then be known as a player who plays with "soul" and it won't be a gimmick at all because you REALLY ARE playing with soul at that point, because you are translating the experience of a sad, difficult time into music. You will be a true bluesman...

This guy not only winds great pickups,he has given us THE recipe for playing any style with feeling.


New member
Dec 15, 2021
So you're saying a man who got robbed, shot, lost his girlfriend, buried
his children, had an alcohol/drug problem will know and play the blues
better? If, given the right instruction? Okay by me. Oh, and his dog died
as well.


Well-known member
Nov 16, 2021
Much of what is said here
must be said twice,
a reminder that no one
takes an immediate interest in the pain of others.

Nobody will listen, it would seem,
if you simply admit
your baby left you early this morning
she didn’t even stop to say good-bye.

But if you sing it again
with the help of the band
which will now lift you to a higher,
more ardent and beseeching key,

people will not only listen;
they will shift to the sympathetic
edges of their chairs,
moved to such acute anticipation

by that chord and the delay that follows,
they will not be able to sleep
unless you release with one finger
a scream from the throat of your guitar

and turn your head back to the microphone
to let them know
you’re a hard-hearted man
but that woman’s sure going to make you cry.

“The Blues” by Billy Collins from Sailing Alone Around the Room. © Random House, 2002.


Steven K

Mar 28, 2022
Learn all five positions of the pentatonic scale thoroughly. Thats just the very beginning
Last edited:


Well-known member
Nov 16, 2021
Steal licks from T-Bone Walker.
Very elegant stuff.
THEN, steal some from his sax player for a different approach.


Active member
Jul 5, 2019
The Goat

There was an animal called a goat, he butted his way out of the Supreme Court
Said, "Let him go"
Yeah, said, "Let him go, because he butt so hard till you can't use him in our court no more"
Judge give him five hours to get out of town, he got five miles down the road and committed another crime
That's when the high sheriff happened to be coming along, and caught the billy goat eating up an old farmer's corn
High sheriff taken the billy goat to the county jail, but the desk sergeant can't said that "I'll go his bail, let him go"
A medicine doctor bought the billy goat, had a great big stage show
The billy goat got mad and butt him right down in the lonesome floor
So let him go, please, please, let him go, because he butt so hard till I can't use him in our court no more

Sonny Boy Williamson II