How to Learn Blues Guitar

If you're interested in expressing your bluesy side on the guitar, then there are a few things you need to learn. Once you have mastered the fundamental concepts involved with producing the right sound, you'll be well on your way to making your poor guitar cry a river of blues.

Select a tonic for the scale by fretting any given note along the sixth string. This is the lowest tone in the scale that you utilize for playing the Blues. By adding a flattened fifth to a minor pentatonic scale, you have a set of tones that relate to one another in a bluesy-sounding style.

Locate the remaining tones in the minor Blues scale, which are found by starting with the index finger on the sixth (E) string. The next note is three frets up the neck on that same string, fret it using your pinky finger. Now, move your index finger down to the fifth (A) string, and fret directly beneath the tonic tone. The following tone in the minor Blues scale is the very next fret along the A string. This note is called a flattened fifth, though it is also referred to as the 'blue tone.'

Play the next tone in the scale, which sits one fret up from the flattened fifth. Now, move your index finger down to the fourth (D) string, directly beneath the tonic. Play the final tone in the minor Blues scale, which is the octave that sits two frets up the neck along the D string. This tone is the same as the tonic you chose, only one octave higher.

Perform a pull-off by playing a note on a given string with your pinky finger, while fretting another tone lower down the neck with another finger. When you play the pinky-fretted tone, pull your finger down and pluck it off to sound the tone that's fretted by your other finger.

Hold the fretted tone with your index finger, and pluck the string. While the note is sounding, hammer down another finger onto a fret that is farther up the neck. If done correctly, the second note should make noise just from the impact of your fretting finger. This technique is known as a hammer-on.

Bend the notes by pulling the string down toward a neighboring string. Doing so bends the pitch of one fret up or down, producing a sound that mimics a fret that is higher up the neck. This is a great technique to use around the flattened fifth (or blue tone). Play the tone on the A string that falls directly beneath the tonic. While it sounds, pull the string down toward the D string to produce a higher note.

Purchase a heavier set of strings to get a real bluesy sound out of your bends.

Be careful when bending strings because a lighter gauge will snap under tension.

Approved by Jesse Anderson