Improvising and Variations for Fingerstyle Blues Guitar
  • Improvising and Variations for Fingerstyle Blues Guitar
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130 pages w/CD FREE SHIPPING! in US Many early blues songs from players such as Robert Johnson, Big Bill Broonzy, Blind Blake and others were played using the basic “Cowboy” chords (chords played between the first three frets) that most beginning students have learned. Combining those chords with fingerstyle methods such as Travis picking (alternating bass) or dead thumb (monotonic bass) can be a joy in and of itself. But what if the student could take his/her knowledge of old blues tunes and learn to improvise with them? Using tools such as the CAGED system and using pentatonic scales we can open a new world of improvisation.

The key is being able to maintain a steady bass. We will show the student how to use chord voicings that maximize: 1) open strings and 2) fretted strings that are useful and powerful.

The CAGED system has become a part of the guitar teacher’s vernacular. As a method for navigating the guitar neck it has a great deal of value for students who don’t want to get bogged down in arcane theory. Five simple chord shapes provide the basis from which all guitar players (beginner, novice, advanced) can explore the guitar neck.

Most beginning guitar students are familiar with the first position chords: C-A-G-E-D. What many of them don’t know is that they can apply these chord “shapes” to the entire fretboard to make any chord they want. Notice I use the word “shapes.” It is essential that we shift our thinking from “this is a G chord” to “this is a G chord SHAPE.” As we move that shape up and down the fretboard it becomes other chords.

As you work through the exercises and songs in this book you will notice that the different chord shapes lend themselves to experimentation and I encourage you come up with your own variations.

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Table of Contents

CHAPTER 1: The CAGED System – 

        Minor Chords – 7

        7th Chords – 8

        Key to the Highway – 9                        1

CHAPTER 2: Songs – 11

        Stagolee – 13                                2-3

        St. James Infirmary – 26                        4

        Train Stop Blues – 32                            5

        Cowboy Blues – 37                            6

        From Four Until Late – 41                        7

        Captain, Captain – 46                            8

        That’ll Never Happen No More – 51                    9-10


CHAPTER 3: Dropped D Tuning – 57

        Big Road Blues – 59                            11

        Badlands – 65                                12

        Stingy Brim – 69                            13


CHAPTER 4: Advanced Songs – 76

        Shuffle Rag – 77                            14

        Pass the Jug – 85                            15


CHAPTER 5: Scales, Riffs, Bass Runs and Combinations – 101

        Pentatonic and Blues Scales – 103

        G Improvisation – 109                        16

        Blending CAGED with Scales – 111

        Bad Dog Blues – 113                            17

        E minor Improvisation – 115                        18

        12 Bar Improvisation in A – 118                    19

        Hey, Hey w/bass runs – 123                        20

TAB Explanation – 126

TAB Legend -- 127