Learning to play a blues guitar is a straight forward process as it requires you either to take lessons with a guitar teacher, go to a blues guitar group class or jump online and go through video tutorials.
But you already have some knowledge under your belt and are looking to bring your blues guitar skills to a new level as the tutorials have got you so far and you’ve hit a point from where you are not really progressing any further. This is certainly the right moment to assess how to progress further and how to change up your practice.
1 – Feel the Rhythm
The first thing you should do is get the feeling for the rhythm. This is the foundation when it comes to playing a blues guitar. Practicing the swing and enhancing your rhythmic vocabulary could certainly give you a much-needed boost to progress. Stop hastily jumping into your solo and work on feeling the rhythm.
2 – Understand the Music
You should pick up the basics such as intervals that are important not only for playing blues guitar, but any guitar. Intervals are a distance from one note to another, however, learn how different intervals sound as you don’t want your music to start sounding the same and your solos to resemble each other. You have to turn back to the feel again, listening to the songs, understanding it and building your own solo from that.
3 – Play it by Ear
Another trick to get you out of the rut is to start humming your music and learn to listen, connecting your fingers to the sounds you hear. This is something you should practice as much as you can because playing by ear can bring you success. In the end, you have to be able to hear the music other play, not only yours.
4 – Listen to Your Idols
If you are stuck and are hardly getting anywhere with your playing and your solo, it is time to sit down and listen. There must be someone who inspired you to start playing the blues guitar, and this might be the spark you need. Find your inspiration and listen to what others have done. It is not unusual even for great artists to break down phrases other have played and use them in another solo, try doing that yourself.
5 – Get your Fingers in the Game
If you haven’t already, try playing with your fingers, and try practicing with a band or a metronome. Playing yourself could easily get you off track and your rhythm starts lacking. As noted above, feeling the rhythm is of great importance to any blues guitar player, otherwise, what you do would not sound right.
6 – Practice, Practice, Practice
Practice makes perfect. Yes, you might have hit a plateau you can’t seem to budge further from, but taking into consideration all the tips suggested above and practicing them will enable you to imprint them into your music, making them natural and not forced. Playing well by yourself is one thing, but being part of a band without rhythm is a disaster.
There are other things one must know when it comes to playing a blues guitar, such as playing 12 bar blues progression in all keys. Without this knowledge, there isn’t really much room for improvement.
To conclude, your ears are your best asset and feeling the rhythm instead of rushing into everything could lead to greater freedom of expression. Combining all the tips noted above you will be leaving your blues guitar rut far behind and by simply applying these to the knowledge you already have and practicing as much as you can will turn you from a below average blues guitar player to an inspiring professional oozing confidence.