Learning A Licks (Guitar Lesson)

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Eric Madis

Learning A Licks

In this lesson, Eric Madis teaches two licks that can be used over an A chord.

Taught by Eric Madis in Electric Blues with Eric seriesLength: 12:16Difficulty: 1.5 of 5

Video Subtitles / Captions

Scene 1

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Oh hi.
Eric Madis here from JamPlay.com.

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Last time we worked on Memphis lead exercises so that we could play over an entire twelve bar blues shuffle in the key of E.

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We actually put together a solo utilizing those different chord changes and playing over the separate chords individually.

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In this lesson I'm going to show you more licks for the chord of A.

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Now it is true that you can play a lot of the licks that I've shown you in E

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and play them over the E, the A and the B chords if you have accompaniment.

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However, if you don't have accompaniment the licks in themselves only define the E chord.

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So you wouldn't be able to just, if you were playing by yourself, play those licks over the A chord or over the B chord

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and still define the chord changes as you would need to.

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So what I like to try to do is show people ideas that emphasize certain chord changes so that if their playing by themselves or even if they're playing

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in a group, especially in a small group, that when they play their lick it helps define the chord changes that they're playing over at that time.

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So we're going to do a couple different licks in A that I think you'll really like.

Scene 2

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Here's a traditional lick that I call Lightning Hopkins four chord lick.

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What we do is we use our index finger and our second finger

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and we bring them up to the fifth and sixth frets respectively, of the second and third strings.

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They look like this.

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Now as you may notice this is actually kind of like an A chord.

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If I were to put a barred chord in there you could see that those two chords are contained.

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If I were to just play an A chord here, like an F chord brought up to the fifth fret, that we have an A chord there.

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This little triad right here this is an A triad.

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So when we play the second and third strings we actually have the fifth and third is what we call of the A major triad.

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So we start off with those two notes and it's always nice to slide into them from the fret below.

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As opposed to, and that way we get that nice, sliding, bluesy sound.

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Ok. Then we use the ring finger, second finger and index finger on the first string there of the seventh, sixth and fifth frets.

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Ok. Then we use little finger, ring finger and index finger on the second string.

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For the eighth, seventh and fifth frets.
So in other words again, those two strings.

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Then we're going to put the first, second, third fingers down on the second string on the fifth, sixth and seventh frets

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and we're just going to do a little half step bend there.

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By that I mean just barely bend.
So in other words, it's not a big bend but it's just a…

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In other words if you were just sliding it would be up one fret down.

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It doesn't take much work but you've still got to turn that wrist like we've done in the past.

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Ok. So let's look at that whole lick again.
We've got…

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One more time for you slide into fifth and sixth frets.
First string.

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Second string.

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Half step bend.

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And then finish this on this E note, that's the second string, fifth fret with the index finger.

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Why don't you try that one.

Scene 3

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Ok. So let's look at that lick one more time.

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Ok. This is a real traditional lick and really helps define the four chord.

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That doesn't mean it wouldn't work over E.
If I was playing E…

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It can work over that particular chord but it's much better over A where it helps define that chord change.

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Ok. Now the next lick we're going to do is what I call the A seventh dyad sequence.

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Ok. So what we're going to do is, we're going to play an A seventh chord down here at the bottom of the fret board on the second fret.

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We're going to be fretting the fourth string and the second string on the second fret.

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Now you may do this with your index and second fingers or second and third fingers

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and that depends on the size of your fingers and the width of your neck on the guitar.

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So let's just, let's try this where we are going to pick fourth, second and fourth again.

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This is 12/8 time, a triplet so one, two, three.

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Ok. Now we're going to come up to the third and fourth frets of the second and fourth strings, respectively.

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Ok. Now we're going to be on the fifth fret on both the second and fourth strings and back down to the last lick or the third and fourth frets.

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So that gives us four figures.

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So now as you can see we have four of these triplets and they fit perfectly over one, two, three, four beats.

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Now the thing about this is you can probably notice,

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this lick can stand on it's own like if you're playing by yourself, this lick can actually hold up on it's own.

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This isn't the kind of lick where you just go…
Where there's no real rhythm to it.

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This has got a…

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You can actually feel the shuffle rhythm in this lick and that's one of the reasons why I like this.

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This is one of those licks that you can play on it's own and on your own without any accompaniment and make the music full all by yourself.

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So, again, you know, we had two licks in this lesson.

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The Lightning's four chord lick.
And the A seventh dyad sequence lick.

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And these are two great licks in A.

Scene 4

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Let me show you how you can use these things.

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Let's say we start off using the little seventh chord arpeggio to start off.

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Now let's say I'm come up to the country blues lick.

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Now it's time for the four chord lick, ok.

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Let's go through again if that's not apparent to you, so say we start over with one.

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One, two, three, four. Two, two, three, four. Three, three, four.

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Now it's time for the fifth measure or the A.

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So let's go to..

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and let's do that twice.

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Ok and let's see.

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Ok, B.

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Ok, so as you can see, what I'm starting to do is actually construct a solo for you and I'm going to do that in the next lesson for you.

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So don't worry about getting that down right now.

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Let's just look at the example that I was using of playing this.

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Lightning's four chord lick and how it fell into line perfectly with the A chord change at that point.

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So we had two different licks we could use.

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The A seventh sequence and also the lightning's four chord lick but we also have another one

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that of course you know from previous lessons and that is we have the Memphis lead dyads and actually we have three of them.

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We have descending number one.

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Then descending number two.

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So essentially you have five licks now specific to A.

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So in other words if I'm playing a sequence in E and I'm playing a twelve bar blues in E like for instance the shuffle I did.

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Let's say I start off with the seventh chord arpeggios and the double wham.

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I can go to…

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See I could've used that A seventh or I could've gone…

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The four chord lick or I could've used any of the Memphis leads at that spot.

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So what we actually have now is, we actually have vocabulary that we can use to play specifically over the A seventh chord.

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Now this isn't always necessary if you have accompaniment.

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However, even if you do have accompaniment if you could play more specific to the chord change you'll have a lot more ideas for soloing,

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a lot more ideas for improvisation than if you rely on always playing in the key of one or E licks to play over all three chords.

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That'll be our goal actually.

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To get you so that you're always aware of the chord changes that you're playing over and that you can play either to the key of the one

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or the key of the tonic, in this case being E or whether you want to play specifically to the chord that you're playing over.

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By having those options you have many different strategies that you can follow in your soloing and the more strategies, the more options the better

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because then the process of creativity that takes place in your mind has a greater chance of being able to express itself individually.

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So when we get together next time

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we're going to start working on putting together all of the licks that we've learned in the past into a twelve bar blues.

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This is Eric Madis at JamPlay.com.
See you next time.


Supplemental Learning Material



Member Comments about this Lesson

Discussions with our instructors are just one of the many benefits of becoming a member of JamPlay.

skaterstuskaterstu replied

A few years ago I was too inexperienced to really understand these lessons and how they fit in, maybe I didn't listen well enough too. However after working on Eric's fingerstyle and ragtime lessons, they are making much more sense, which is adding to a real burning desire to master these licks and create more! Thx Eric!

nate_thegreatnate_thegreat replied

Mistake in the supp content. Bend on the M6 note in the Lightnin IV chord lick should be a half step instead of a whole step

craigh214craigh214 replied

Great lessong :). Can I ask what happened to the lesson notes?

krobinson5krobinson5 replied

Great solo. It makes me feel like a real guitar player.

selfrobselfrob replied

Eric, these lessons are great. I like the way you teach in a way that you can play the blues by yourself rather in a band setting.

isiahlauisiahlau replied

Why lick #1 can be played on A chord, I am confused...what scale is it?

Eric.MadisEric.Madis replied

Because when the A is being playing, it is important to understand that it is really A7 (or a variation of A7, depending on the notes played before or after). Either way, the tonality is going from E7 (a key in itself, related to A major) to A7 (a key in itself, related to D major and with one note difference between the scales). So, if you were relating this to scales, you would play the E mixolydian mode (which is based on the V of A major) on the E7/E chord, and you would play an A mixolydian (the V chord of the key of D major) on the A7. That is why it is important to realize that, which exception of the blues scales (5 note, 6 note, 8 note, 9 note, etc), you must think of each dominant chord as requiring its own tonality, although it is in reality only one note different from the two other chords (of a basic 3 chord blues). Let me know it that does not make sense to you. Good luck.

thefirepriestthefirepriest replied

I came over here from Dennis' metal lessons to satisfy my curiosity and have got this far in a few hours. Just learned the first piece from this session and improvised over it a bit. Thank you very much for the great lessons, will definitely be coming back to this series!

Eric.MadisEric.Madis replied

My son is a good metal player also (goes to Berklee College of Music) and he is now really getting into the blues to add more color to all the cool modes and scales he already uses.....So welcome aboard!

mikejhughesmikejhughes replied

Eric - this is great its all coming together nicely - finally blues is starting to feel more joined up for me - well done!

Eric.MadisEric.Madis replied

Thanks, Mike!

davidinladavidinla replied

Nice concept building! I like the way you snuck into building a twelve bar solo.

Eric.MadisEric.Madis replied

Thanks, David! - Eric

seasonedcitizenseasonedcitizen replied

Eric, I'am 59 I've taken guitar up again, its been a long time since I've played. I've always like the blues now is my chance to fufill my long time passion. Great lessons, you make it a pleasure to learn. Keep em coming, thanks Bob.

Eric.MadisEric.Madis replied

Thank you, Bob! Good luck and best regards, Eric

john2213john2213 replied

amazing lessons! nice tone.

Eric.MadisEric.Madis replied

Hey John, Thanks! The tone gets better after we get a few bugs worked out. -- Eric

jdavissimojdavissimo replied

Any idea when they're going to post more of your lessons. It's been a while . . .

Eric.MadisEric.Madis replied

Hi Jon, There should be more really soon! Thanks, Eric

indischgelbindischgelb replied

I hope you keep posting new lessons soon, I really enjoy this series.

Eric.MadisEric.Madis replied

Thanks, Philipp! There are many new lessons on their way that have already been recorded. Take care, Eric

gizmo18gizmo18 replied

great lesson. look forward to many more from you

Eric.MadisEric.Madis replied

Thanks, my friend.

kenwill64kenwill64 replied

Eric your lessons are excellent. I just started playing in Jan 09 at the age of 45. I love the blues and between you and Hawkeye I may actually become a guitar player! :) Thanks so much I really enjoy your lessons and work over them repeatedly. Please keep them coming.

Eric.MadisEric.Madis replied

Thanks, Richard.

Electric Blues with Eric

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

The blues is a distinctly American style of music. Many popular genres such as jazz, rock, and country music draw upon basic blues concepts. Consequently, it is advantageous for any guitarist to study the blues.

Basic Blues ShuffleLesson 1

Basic Blues Shuffle

In this lesson, Eric introduces himself and his Phase 2 lesson series. He also teaches a basic blues shuffle in the style of Jimmy Reed.

Length: 17:35 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Licks by Lightnin' HopkinsLesson 2

Licks by Lightnin' Hopkins

Eric teaches a few popular Lightnin' Hopkins licks. These licks can be played over the blues shuffle from the previous lesson.

Length: 11:46 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
More Lightnin' LicksLesson 3

More Lightnin' Licks

Eric covers a few more essential licks in the style of Lightnin' Hopkins.

Length: 7:42 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
John Lee Hooker LicksLesson 4

John Lee Hooker Licks

Eric teaches a few licks inspired by the great John Lee Hooker.

Length: 7:43 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Country Blues LickLesson 5

Country Blues Lick

Eric Madis explains a country blues lick he calls the "Country Blues Double Wham."

Length: 6:35 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Memphis Blues LeadLesson 6

Memphis Blues Lead

In this lesson Eric talks about playing basic lead in the Memphis Blues style.

Length: 10:37 Difficulty: 1.5 FREE
Using the Memphis BluesLesson 7

Using the Memphis Blues

Eric demonstrates how the Memphis blues licks taught in the previous lesson can be used over various chords.

Length: 5:52 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
12 Bar Memphis BluesLesson 8

12 Bar Memphis Blues

Eric demonstrates how to construct a full 12 bar blues solo by using the Memphis blues licks he taught in previous lessons.

Length: 7:25 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Applying the Memphis BluesLesson 9

Applying the Memphis Blues

In this lesson, Eric applies the Memphis Blues Lead to a practical blues context.

Length: 4:06 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Learning A LicksLesson 10

Learning A Licks

In this lesson, Eric Madis teaches two licks that can be used over an A chord.

Length: 12:16 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
IC BluesLesson 11

IC Blues

In this lesson, Eric Madis teaches a type of blues shuffle that he calls the "IC Blues."

Length: 12:45 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Simple Blues LeadLesson 12

Simple Blues Lead

In this lesson, Eric talks about playing blues lead using licks you already know.

Length: 8:58 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
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T-Bone Walker LickLesson 14

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Exploring T-Bone Walker LicksLesson 15

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Eric Madis introduces several new T-Bone Walker licks and explains the ways they can be used.

Length: 10:21 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
T-Bone Walker Licks ContinuedLesson 16

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T-Bone Walker Licks Wrap-UpLesson 17

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Eric wraps up his overview of T-Bone Walker licks and techniques in this lesson. You will be applying what you've learned in the next lesson, so be sure to practice.

Length: 10:10 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Swing Blues in ALesson 18

Swing Blues in A

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Length: 14:17 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
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Length: 9:49 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
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In this lesson, Eric returns to the world of "Stormy Monday Blues" to teach an amazing introduction segment.

Length: 7:21 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Transition LicksLesson 21

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Length: 9:31 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Second Position LicksLesson 22

Second Position Licks

In this lesson, Eric Madis demonstrates popular blues licks within the second pattern of the minor pentatonic scale.

Length: 16:50 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
The Thrill is GoneLesson 23

The Thrill is Gone

In this lesson Eric talks about one of the classic blues tunes, "The Thrill is Gone," by B.B. King.

Length: 10:43 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Third Position PlayingLesson 24

Third Position Playing

In this lesson, Eric Madis introduces the third pattern of the minor pentatonic scale. This pattern is used frequently by the likes of B.B. King.

Length: 11:27 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Using Third PositionLesson 25

Using Third Position

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Length: 12:19 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
The Fourth PositionLesson 26

The Fourth Position

In this lesson Eric Madis talks about the fourth position of blues playing.

Length: 10:04 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Playing StrategyLesson 27

Playing Strategy

In this lesson Eric talks about "strategies" to use while playing and improvising.

Length: 7:11 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Alternative Blues ShuffleLesson 28

Alternative Blues Shuffle

Eric Madis introduces the alternative blues shuffle, which is particularly useful on guitars featuring humbucker pickups.

Length: 14:31 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Freddie King Style LicksLesson 29

Freddie King Style Licks

In this lesson Eric Madis teaches licks in the style of Freddie King.

Length: 9:38 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
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Aeolian Mode

In this lesson Eric talks about the differences between the minor blues and the "dominant" blues. He also introduces the modes, beginning with the Aeolian mode.

Length: 10:43 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Locrian ModeLesson 31

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In this lesson Eric Madis introduces the Locrian mode and talks about how it can be used in blues.

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Dorian ModeLesson 32

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Length: 7:16 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Modes & Minor Key BluesLesson 33

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Length: 9:31 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Minor 7th ArpeggiosLesson 34

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Length: 10:34 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Dominant 7th ArpeggiosLesson 35

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Length: 6:58 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
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Applying Diminished 7th Arpeggios

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Major Pentatonic Scale Ideas

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Bass LinesLesson 49

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More Ending LicksLesson 50

More Ending Licks

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Swing Blues

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Length: 8:03 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Classic Minor BluesLesson 52

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Length: 18:35 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
A Minor Blues in 8/8 TimeLesson 53

A Minor Blues in 8/8 Time

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Length: 7:04 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Descending Minor BluesLesson 54

Descending Minor Blues

Eric teaches a classic blues progression he calls the "Descending Minor Blues."

Length: 11:15 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Modern Block Chord Minor Key BluesLesson 55

Modern Block Chord Minor Key Blues

Eric Madis teaches an interesting minor blues progression he calls the "Modern Block Chord Minor Key Blues."

Length: 7:40 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Detroit Chicago Funky BluesLesson 56

Detroit Chicago Funky Blues

Eric Madis teaches an amazing blues progression he calls "The Detroit Chicago Funky Blues."

Length: 9:49 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Jimmy Nolen's Funky GrooveLesson 57

Jimmy Nolen's Funky Groove

Eric Madis moves on and teaches an astonishing blues progression he dubs "Jimmy Nolen's Funky Groove."

Length: 8:41 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
The Bump ShuffleLesson 58

The Bump Shuffle

Eric Madis introduces a blues style called "The Bump Shuffle."

Length: 7:27 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
The Bump Shuffle #2Lesson 59

The Bump Shuffle #2

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Length: 4:41 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Chicago Bass GrooveLesson 60

Chicago Bass Groove

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Length: 6:50 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Blues Bass GrooveLesson 61

Blues Bass Groove

Eric Madis teaches another powerful bass groove he has extracted from the world of blues.

Length: 3:55 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Blues Bass Groove #3Lesson 62

Blues Bass Groove #3

Eric Madis teaches another useful bass groove for blues guitar.

Length: 5:47 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Blues Bass Groove #4Lesson 63

Blues Bass Groove #4

Eric Madis teaches another valuable blues bass groove.

Length: 4:43 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Wolf's GrooveLesson 64

Wolf's Groove

In this lesson, Eric Madis teaches a blues bass groove inspired by Howlin' Wolf.

Length: 4:31 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Minor Progression Major ChordsLesson 65

Minor Progression Major Chords

In this lesson, Eric Madis teaches a valuable blues chord progression that he calls "Minor Progression Major Chords."

Length: 11:28 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Sliding Ninth GrooveLesson 66

Sliding Ninth Groove

Eric enthusiastically presents a new chord progression he calls the "Sliding Ninth Groove."

Length: 5:43 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Tribute Blues ShuffleLesson 67

Tribute Blues Shuffle

Eric pays tribute to Memphis Slim and Jimmy Reed in something he likes to call the "Tribute Blues Shuffle."

Length: 8:48 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Chicago Style Funky BluesLesson 68

Chicago Style Funky Blues

Eric Madis teaches a blues chord progression inspired by the Chicago style of blues playing. This progression has a funky rhythmic feel.

Length: 9:51 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Eric Madis

About Eric Madis View Full Biography Eric Madis is a guitarist, singer and composer, a versatile artist whose playing and compositions reflect his diverse and thorough background in American music. Whether performing in an ensemble or as a soloist, he exudes a love and a mastery of the blues that have been refined by years of experience in jazz, country, rock, and even Hawaiian music. What results are performances that include authentic renderings of old rural blues, personal interpretations of modern urban blues and jazz standards, and original music that defies strict categorization, but that draws heavily from these traditions.

Eric lives in Seattle where he leads his own ensemble, performs as a solo act and performs in the Seattle Swing Trio. He has released four CDs on Luna Records, and is currently working on a fifth. He is on the faculty of the National Guitar Workshop and Dusty Strings Music and teaches guitar privately.

Eric lived his formative years in Colorado with a family that was musical (his mother was an accomplished opera singer), and began his music study on the piano at the age of nine. He began performing shortly after picking up a guitar at ten years of age. By the age of sixteen, he was performing in Chicago-area coffeehouses. He has accompanied artists as diverse as bluesmen Big Walter Horton, Sunnyland Slim, Deacon Jones, Hawaiian luminaries Irmgaard Aluli, Kekua Fernandez, Emma Sharpe and author/poet Nikki Grimes.

He has led bands in Illinois, Texas, Colorado and Washington. He has opened shows for Robben Ford, James Cotton, Little Charlie and the Nightcats, Mem Shannon, Hawkeye Herman and author Sherman Alexie. Eric's four albums have received critical acclaim, including regional airplay and nominations from NAMA and Washington Blues Society (WBS). He has received 16 Best Blues nominations from WBS, was a finalist in the New Folk Awards at the 1981 Kerrville National Folk Festival, a finalist in the 1991 Seattle Guitar Starz competition, and has music featured on five film soundtracks. Eric has taught guitar classes at Denver Free University, University of Washington's Experimental College, Northwest Folklife Festival, National Guitar Workshop, and Canada's Guitar Workshop Plus.

Whether performing in a group or as a soloist, at a concert or a small club, teaching privately or a large workshop, Eric is a dedicated professional, with commitment to the quality of his art and to his audience.

Lesson Information

Acoustic Guitar Lessons

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David Isaacs David Isaacs

JamPlay welcomes David Isaacs to our teacher roster. With his first lesson Dave explains his approach to playing guitar with...

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Danny Voris Danny Voris

Lesson 7 is all about arpeggios. Danny provides discussion and exercises designed to build your right hand skills.

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Marcelo Berestovoy Marcelo Berestovoy

Marcelo teaches the eight basic right hand moves for the Rumba Flamenca strum pattern. He then shows you how to apply it...

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Maneli Jamal Maneli Jamal

The acoustic guitar is basically a big wooden box, so it makes sense that it sounds pretty good as a drum! Learning how...

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Erik expounds on the many possibilities of open tunings and the new harmonics that you can use in them. He explains what...

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Hawkeye Herman Hawkeye Herman

Hawkeye teaches several Robert Johnson licks in this lesson. These licks are played with a slide in open G tuning.

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Freebo Freebo

In this lesson, Freebo covers the basics of right hand technique. This lesson is essential for all up and coming bassists.

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Greg Greenway Greg Greenway

Greg kicks off his series telling a little about himself and introduces the C9 tuning.

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Jane Miller Jane Miller

Jane Miller talks about chord solos in part one of this fascinating mini-series.

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Joe Burcaw Joe Burcaw

Join Joe as he shows one of his favorite drills for strengthening his facility around the fretboard: The Spider Technique.

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Eric Madis Eric Madis

In this lesson Eric talks about playing basic lead in the Memphis Blues style.

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Andy Whitehead Andy Whitehead

Join Andy as he takes a look at the style of one of the most influential guitarists of all time: Eddie Van Halen. In the...

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Dennis Hodges Dennis Hodges

Learn a variety of essential techniques commonly used in the metal genre, including palm muting, string slides, and chord...

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Bryan Beller Bryan Beller

Bryan Beller of the Aristocrats, Dethklok, and Steve Vai takes you inside his six step method to learning any song by ear....

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Jeffery Marshall Jeffery Marshall

Welcome to Inside and Out with Jeff Marshall! In this lesson series, Jeff takes a bottom up approach to fret board proficiency....

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John March John March

Take a new look at the fretboard and learn where to find a voicing that works. There are techniques that simplify the fretboard...

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Dave Weiner Dave Weiner

Dave "David J" Weiner returns with a lesson on how to play with style and attitude. He covers all the basic techniques you'll...

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Irene Ketikidi Irene Ketikidi

Dynamics can be a key component to becoming expressive with your melodies. Irene applies some dynamic expressive techniques...

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