Now Available! "The Blues Masters & Disciples"
Without the blues, modern music just wouldn't be the same. Learn the roots and flavors of this timeless style by navigating the roadmap of storied bluesman throughout history. Stuart Ziff, accomplished musician and educator,
dedicates 40 lessons to this timeline. We start with T-Bone Walker, move to the “three kings” of B.B. King, Albert King and Freddie King... then dissect their “disciples” of Mike Bloomfield and Duane Allman.
We will break down the style and technique of each of these musicians, complete with playthroughs, exercises, and accompanying backing tracks. The goal is not just playing the blues (though that will come), but understanding the story, history, and evolution of the sound throughout the past 5 decades. This course is ideal for beginner to intermediate guitarists who either are struggling to find their voice with the blues, or lacking the foundation for blues music.
Learn the tools, techniques, and styles of the founding fathers of Blues.
This course provides the answers to why names such as "B.B. King" and "T-Bone Walker" are considered folklore in the blues community. What they played. The techniques they used. The emotions they captured. We can't promise you are going to play like these legends, but we can promise to unlock the "hows" and the "whys" to their individual styles. Learn more by reading up on the full lesson list below. 22 JamTracks are also provided with this course, along with full tabs in Guitar Pro and PDF formats.
Establish our guidelines
Stuart takes our first four lessons to review and establish some common principles we will be using in this course. While the topics of "pentatonic" and "arpeggios" may be common to you, Stuart will establish our baselines for use in blues music.
As guitarists, we all draw from what we know and like. And when we look closely at the greats, we learn to reflect their greatness in our own playing. Join Stuart as he introduces us to the Masters and their Disciples.
The foundations of blues soloing are the major and minor pentatonic scales. Before we get started looking at some of the blues greats, Stuart gives a quick review of all 5 patterns of the major and minor pentatonics.
To have command of your fretboard and to improve your soloing, it's very important to know what makes up a chord - in other words, your arpeggios. Here, Stuart shows us a method for learning patterns 1 and 2 of your dominant 7th, drop two arpeggios.
When learning the fretboard is your goal, arpeggios are a tried and true method. Stuart continues by showing us patterns 3 and 4 of the drop two arpeggios, along with a great way to practice them!
The man who arguably started it all, and one of the first to use an electric guitar to wail blues licks in 1934-1935. Single-note solos, signature turn-arounds and syncopation were just a few of the flavors he used to move the genre forward. Simply put, he forever changed the face of blues music.
Now we get into the players. All electric blues guitar points back to T-Bone Walker. In this lesson, Stuart introduces us to some of the things that made him legendary: his sense of timing, rhythm and swing, and his use space.
T Bone Walker, the Father of Texas Blues crafted single note solos that were fluid and very horn-like. Stuart takes a look at this and other attributes that made him one of the original bridges between blues and jazz.
Among other things, T Bone Walker was an authority in regards to rhythm playing. In this up-tempo shuffle, sometimes called a "jump blues", Stuart demonstrates how T Bone would punctuate the groove with horn section-like rhythm parts.
Being that bridge between jazz and blues, T-Bone had lots of jazzy elements in his playing: not a lot of bending, use of the 9th and other ear grabbing chord tones. Stuart uses a simple, bluesy harmony over this shuffle feel to demonstrate these qualities.
So how do you comp a rhythm part against an upbeat track? In this lesson, Stuart shows us how to execute a swing feel rhythm over this T-Bone style track based on the classic "Strolling with Bones".
What is a head melody? Well, think of it as you would a chorus in a song being sung. Only in jazz, we refer to it as a "head melody". Learning this simple melody will get you into the feel of this track!
We've learned the rhythm and the head melody, now Stuart shows us a call and response technique that he integrates into the solo, along with swung eighth notes and repetitive figures. Note the very horn-like phrasing that was a hallmark of T-Bone's style.
The king influencer
You know the name, but do you know the why? Beyond the signature vibrato and the "B.B. King Box" (we will hit those topics too), we will disect the details that made one of the the most influential guitarists in history. Note choice, underlying rhythm, injecting emotion, dynamics... just a few of the ways he pushed the genre into new territory for both casual listeners, and aspiring guitarists.
His technique. His distinctive vibrato. His use of major and minor pentatonic scales. We're talking about the great B.B. King. Stuart gives us a worthy introduction to the first "King" and shows the connection to the past in T-Bone Walker.
B.B.'s sweet sound could be boiled down to his note choices. The manner in which he combined the major pentatonic and minor pentatonic scales was the primary way in which he made the guitar speak. And make no mistake - the guitar was B.B.'s voice!
B.B. King had many classic moves that Stuart will now take a look at. He had a way of addressing the chords of a song, then applying his nuanced bends and signature vibrato to give us the legendary sound we know and love!
In part 2 of B.B. the Boss, Stuart asks us to forget about the "B.B. box" that everyone obsesses over, and focus in on the dynamics and emotion that made B.B. the king of the blues.
One of B.B.'s most iconic records has a rhythm guitar part played by the legendary Hugh McCracken. On this track in the style of "The Thrill is Gone", Stuart demonstrates how the rhythm guitar part can dictate the feel of a song.
Soloing over a minor blues can be a lot of what NOT to play, especially when emulating the tasteful style of B.B. King. Join Stuart as he talks about finding the right note combinations, where to bend, and what notes to stay away from.
Playing rhythm guitar over a slow blues can be one of the hardest things to get right when learning to master the blues. It requires a lot of restraint, and a single minded focus on supporting the groove.
No doubt about it, B.B. King was the master of the slow blues. His feel, emotion and note choice were impeccable. Using the classic call and response technique, Stuart emulates B.B.'s slow blues style on this classic sounding "in the style of" track.
Do it your way
Upside-down guitar in goofy tunings, while playing left handed? Yes... without question, Albert was a champion of "doing it your way". This man influenced the likes of Stevie, Clapton, and just about every other famed blues player in the next generation. And while we can't exactly advocate the upside-down-left-handed-CBEF#BE-tuning, there are plenty of gems Albert gave us his playing.
Lefty and Upside down. Radical string bending. Fingers and no pick. We're taking a look at Albert King now. Another unique, powerful voice in the world of blues, his bending in particular influenced the likes of Eric Clapton, Duane Allman and Stevie Ray Vaughn.
When analyzing Albert King's style, we must take into account his work with the Stax Records rhythm section, in particular, Steve Cropper. Here, Stuart shows us how Cropper really opened up space in the song through his rhythm guitar part.
Demonstrated in this lesson is Albert King's unique lead guitar style. His instantly recognizable playing was compiled of his phrasing, timing, string bending and overall attitude. Now you will be able to grab bits and pieces of his phrases to compose your own solo!
Now Stuart looks at a blues staple in the New Orleans rhumba-style feel. A traditional Latin feel that was adapted to the blues, it is highlighted by contrasting differences in the rhythm section. This is all to understand the timing for soloing in the next lesson.
Strong groove and great phrasing highlight this Albert King style solo over the New Orleans rhumba feel. We will take some of the timing and bending techniques that we learned in a previous lesson and apply it to this unique rhythmic feel.
The Albert King slow blues - a feel that depends on timing and space. One of the hardest feels to master, Stuart uses the tremolo effect to help accentuate the space in the track, helping you to relax and take your time!
In the slow blues, feel always trumps the number of notes. No one knew this better than Albert King. As Stuart guides you, be aware of the tempo and try to stay relaxed. The goal is to mimic the feel and eventually construct your own solo!
A player's feel and rhythm can shift when the song shifts feel and style. We've looked at a shuffle, a rhumba and a slow blues in the style of Albert King. Now it's time to travel to Memphis and get greasy with this funky track!
The Texas Cannonball
The man was 6'+ and 250+ pounds of fire and melody and played 300 nights a year. Freddie put his own, more vocal and melodic flavor on the bedrock of the blues with a Texas-and-Chicago hybrid swing, seasoned with the vibe of early Rock n' Roll.
Are you hearing Clapton? Maybe Billy Gibbons? Well, they were both influenced by the Texas Cannonball. His distinctive playing included intense one and two bar phrases, and hanging on one note. Fierce, sweet and nasty are just a few words used to describe Freddie King.
Stuart now takes a look at the rhythm part of this track based on the classic, Woke Up This Morning. Syncopated eighth notes are the key to making this track groove. Add in the 9th chords, and you've got a very "jazzy" sounding blues track!
Freddie King was known for his aggressive style of guitar playing, and his very distinctive tone that really cut through the mix. In this lesson, Stuart locks in on Freddie's lead style by being choosy about which notes to bend, and which phrases to repeat.
This slow blues in the key of D encounters the challenge of playing at or around the 10th fret. Freddie was a master of being dynamic and grooving even when playing in a higher register on the guitar, just as Stuart tries to emulate here.
For the uninitated, we lost Duane at the early-age of 24, and he only played the instrument for just 9-10 years. Despite this, he is still considered one of the top 10 guitarists in our history. We could write more, but that should say enough about why his style, story, technique, and tone are something to behold.
Now we get to one of the Disciples that was influenced by everyone we've looked at so far in this series: Duane Allman. One of the most influential players from late 60's and early 70's, Duane developed his own distinctive style with and without his slide.
In listening to Duane Allman, you could tell that he had been listening to T-Bone, the Three Kings, Muddy Waters, on and on... Taking all of these influences, he put together his own fluid, lyrical and conversational style that Stuart demonstrates in this lesson.
Duane's bending of notes gave his playing a very animated quality, along with his sense of swing and phrasing that were unique to his playing. In this slow blues track, Stuart demonstrates some of the attributes that made Duane a powerful force in the blues world.
In some of the early Allman Brothers records, Duane's power was on full display. He had great facility when playing on slow blues, and up tempo songs as well. In this lesson, Stuart demonstrates many facets of Duane's playing on this upbeat number.
Along with being a phenomenal blues player, Duane was also adept at playing in the pop/rock, singer/songwriter style featured on some of the Allman Brothers records. On this track, Stuart demonstrates some of Duane's country-like taste that made him such a versatile player.
Up your Rhythm Game
Santana once said, "Mike comes from B.B. King, but he went somewhere else." While Mike only played on a handful of records, many say that Bloomfield was the best player of his generation... not Clapton, nor Hendrix, nor Dylan. A bit brash, a lot stubborn, and a wealth of talent, his paradoxical style is one that should be learned, and needs to be preserved.
Mike Bloomfield was a player with great speed and facility on the instrument that was ahead of his time. He left us way too soon after blazing a trail through the 60's and 70's influencing countless guitarists along the way - including Stuart Ziff!
In this lesson, Stuart takes a look at Mike Bloomfield's style and how he used many of the techniques we've discussed so far in this series: using the major and minor pentatonics, addressing the chord changes and using arpeggios.
Bloomfield was a powerhouse blues talent. Even on a track like this one, with changing feels, Mike kept the intensity up at all times. In this lesson, Stuart emulates and analyzes some things Mike may have played over this type of track.
In this lesson, Stuart takes on the daunting task of playing a slow blues, and playing with such intensity and aggression that it challenges ones timing and groove. Mike Bloomfield was a master at this, and it can be heard in many of his recordings.
for the bedrock
To know where we are going, we must know where we have been. The blues is one of the building blocks of all modern music. Knowing the history can help unlock ideas, styles, and flavors used throughout all genres of music.
to Inject Versatility
These 5 artists can provide clear "stepping-stones" in the progression of blues music. By digesting their styles into your playing, you add versitility. By adding versitility, you can inject your own personality into your music.
to play like a bluesman
Techniques are the vehicle for emotion. By learning the technical styles of our blues legends, you equip yourself the physical tools needed to articulate your own voice.. or the voice of the legends themselves.
The goal of this course is to provide the who-what-and-why for both aspiring blues guitarists, or current blues players struggling to make progress. Intermediate knowledge of guitar is recommended, but beginners will also benefit from most topics.
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