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Traditional Acoustic Blues Guitar for Beginners

Learn to play traditional-style acoustic blues using both an alternating and monotonic bass pattern and in a variety of keys.

Traditional Acoustic Blues Guitar for Beginners

Learn to play traditional-style acoustic blues using both an alternating and monotonic bass pattern and in a variety of keys.
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In this section, you will learn the basics needed to get started playing this kind of guitar. Make sure that you understand how to read basic TAB. I am NOT musically trained - in ANY sort of way. Neither were the guys who played this type of music. But, my TABs will help you figure out where to put your fingers and how to play most of what I teach - especially the more difficult single string runs and other licks.
Country Blues guitar is based on chords. Most of the licks and picking patterns played are played out of chord shapes. So, it is ESSENTIAL for you to learn and become skilled at playing certain chords. In fact, you really can't go any further with this lesson series until you can play these chords and play them well. If you are a beginner, take your time with this section and everything else that follows will prove MUCH easier!
Ella Speed is a simple country blues tune by Mance Lipscomb. It's in the key of C and a good place to start learning how to play country blues guitar. It's got a monotonic bass and uses basic chord shapes. Still one of my favorite tunes!
East St. Louis Blues is a Blind Willie McTell song that he originally played on his 12-string Stella. However, I have performed the tune on both 6 and 12 string guitars and found it to be a good tune to teach to beginners. It's got an alternating bass and includes some more advanced right-hand picking. If you listen to the original recordings that McTell did, be aware that he's tuned differently! My lesson teaches the song in standard tuning.
This is among my favorite Mississippi John Hurt tunes and one of the easier tunes to learn to play in the key of C.
When I was first learning to play acoustic blues, I stumbled on this tune after buying a cassette called "String Dazzlers" or something like that. It's an instrumental in the key of C that is pretty easy to get the hang of with a little work. For those of us who cannot sing, this is a good instrumental tune to learn.
This is an instrumental version of Reverend Gary Davis' classic tune in C. He played it differently every time he played it. My lesson is based on a version I heard on a cassette tape - where he plays it as an instrumental. This is a great tune for you to get started learning some single string runs and licks.
A really cool song in E - and one not often taught in the various instructional videos currently available. Plus, it's got a SOLO! I play this as an instrumental and enjoy soloing while thumping the monotonic bass. This is a great tune for getting started learning to play in the key of E.
One of the more simple country blues tunes in E. Be sure to check out the videos (You Tube) of Mance Lipscomb playing this live during the 1960s folk revival. These videos are GOLD for anyone trying to learn this style of guitar.
A great tune and easy introduction to the Lightning Hopkins style in the key of E.
Another great, beginner level, instrumental in the key of E - from the playing of Lightning Hopkins. Each verse includes new licks, single string runs, and ideas to expand your playing in the ultimate blues key. Be sure to listen to his original recording!
Big Bill Broonzy was/is one of the true giants of this style of guitar. This classic tune is one of his more approachable tunes. You can keep it simple or learn to play some of the great licks and the solo heard on his original versions.
Yet another Mississippi John Hurt tune to get you started playing in the key of A.
My version of the Big Bill Broonzy classic in the key of A.
This is an instrumental tune I perform that includes all kinds of Robert Johnson licks in the key of A.
A Lil' Son Jackson tune in A - another very cool song not often taught.
We close the key of A out with a more complex tune by Blind Boy Fuller - one of the tougher acoustic blues guitarists to learn. This is MY version of this tune - trying to stay as true as possible to his original versions.
The first song I ever learned to play on acoustic guitar and a great start in the key of D. Again, it's by Mississippi John Hurt.
This song is played in what is called "Dropped D Tuning." Many country blues songs are played in alternate tunings. Dropped D is one of the easiest to learn! Just tune your low E to a D and you are set to go.
Another Tommy Johnson tune in Dropped D tuning. It sounds complicated, but it's one of the easier tunes to get the hang of.
I do believe this was the first-ever guitar instrumental recorded - in history! It's by a man named WIlliam Moore and also played in Dropped D tuning - which allows an alternating bass on the 6th and 4th strings. I learned the Steffan Grossman version and later discovered the original recording. My lesson includes some of both - focusing on the original.
Blind Blake was, arguably, the most talented of all the country blues guitar players. This is one of his "easier" tunes to learn - also in Dropped D. The last two solos are not taught, but I have included TAB in case you want to work on it.
This Mississippi John Hurt is one of the easier country blues guitar tunes to learn. It introduces the Key of G - which is one of the more powerful sounding keys to play in - right up there with E!
This is a Blind Boy Fuller classic in G. It's a great tune for learning some solo ideas in G.
This is among the most-covered Robert Johnson tunes and one of his easier tunes to learn how to play. It's in the Key of G.

In this course, you will learn how to play blues on the acoustic guitar as it was done on the recordings of the 1920s and 1930s. We will start by learning the basic concepts needed to understand this style of guitar playing mainly the alternating and monotonic bass lines. Then I will teach you all of the basic chords needed to play acoustic blues guitar and give you a number of practice exercises to help you learn and master each one. In the main part of the course, I will teach you 25 different acoustic blues songs, five in each of the most commonly used keys. This will allow you to apply what you have learned and learn the nuances of playing in each key. The songs covered are:

Key of C

  • "Ella Speed" by Mance Lipscomb
  • "East St. Louis Blues" by Blind Willie McTell
  • "Ain't No Tellin" by Mississippi John Hurt
  • "I'm Busy, and You Can't Come In" by Sylvester Weaver (Instrumental)
  • "Hesitation Blues" by Reverend Gary Davis

Key of E

  • "Groundhog Day Blues" by Lil' Son Jackson
  • "Mojo Hand" by Lightning Hopkins
  • "Annie's Boogie" by Lightning Hopkins (Instrumental)
  • "Sugar Babe" by Mance Lipscomb
  • "Key to The Highway" by Big Bill Broonzy

Key of A

  • Robert Johnson Style in A
  • "Keep Away From My Woman" by Blind Boy Fuller
  • "Blues Come to Texas" by Lil' Son Jackson
  • "Coffee Blues" by Mississippi John Hurt
  • "Moppers Blues" by Big Bill Broonzy

Key of D

  • "Stack O' Lee" by Mississippi John Hurt
  • "Big Road Blues" by Tommy Johnson
  • "Canned Heat" by Tommy Johnson
  • "Old Country Rock" by William Moore (Instrumental)
  • "Chump Man Blues" by Blind Blake

Key of G

  • "Step It Up and Go" by Blind Boy Fuller
  • "Love In Vain" by Robert Johnson
  • "Casey Jones" by Mississippi John Hurt
  • "That'll Never Happen No More" by Blind Blake
  • "Bye Bye Baby" by Little Hat Jones

Each lesson teaches the basic song and any chords, introductions, fill-licks, bridges, solos, and end tags.

When you are finished with this course, you should be well on your way to being able to play authentic country blues guitar and figure out more songs on your own.

Basic TABS are included for each lecture. I am just getting started with Guitar Pro 7. Please note that I do not TAB out the entire songs in this series. I only TAB out what I teach. The TABS are very basic but accurate. I plan on revising and adding to the TABS for this lesson as I become more skilled with the GP7 software. Let me know what you think.

Requirements

  • You need to have an acoustic guitar and beginner to intermediate guitar skills.
  • You should be familiar with the songs included in the lessons before getting started.
In this section, you will learn the basics needed to get started playing this kind of guitar. Make sure that you understand how to read basic TAB. I am NOT musically trained - in ANY sort of way. Neither were the guys who played this type of music. But, my TABs will help you figure out where to put your fingers and how to play most of what I teach - especially the more difficult single string runs and other licks.
Country Blues guitar is based on chords. Most of the licks and picking patterns played are played out of chord shapes. So, it is ESSENTIAL for you to learn and become skilled at playing certain chords. In fact, you really can't go any further with this lesson series until you can play these chords and play them well. If you are a beginner, take your time with this section and everything else that follows will prove MUCH easier!
Ella Speed is a simple country blues tune by Mance Lipscomb. It's in the key of C and a good place to start learning how to play country blues guitar. It's got a monotonic bass and uses basic chord shapes. Still one of my favorite tunes!
East St. Louis Blues is a Blind Willie McTell song that he originally played on his 12-string Stella. However, I have performed the tune on both 6 and 12 string guitars and found it to be a good tune to teach to beginners. It's got an alternating bass and includes some more advanced right-hand picking. If you listen to the original recordings that McTell did, be aware that he's tuned differently! My lesson teaches the song in standard tuning.
This is among my favorite Mississippi John Hurt tunes and one of the easier tunes to learn to play in the key of C.
When I was first learning to play acoustic blues, I stumbled on this tune after buying a cassette called "String Dazzlers" or something like that. It's an instrumental in the key of C that is pretty easy to get the hang of with a little work. For those of us who cannot sing, this is a good instrumental tune to learn.
This is an instrumental version of Reverend Gary Davis' classic tune in C. He played it differently every time he played it. My lesson is based on a version I heard on a cassette tape - where he plays it as an instrumental. This is a great tune for you to get started learning some single string runs and licks.
A really cool song in E - and one not often taught in the various instructional videos currently available. Plus, it's got a SOLO! I play this as an instrumental and enjoy soloing while thumping the monotonic bass. This is a great tune for getting started learning to play in the key of E.
One of the more simple country blues tunes in E. Be sure to check out the videos (You Tube) of Mance Lipscomb playing this live during the 1960s folk revival. These videos are GOLD for anyone trying to learn this style of guitar.
A great tune and easy introduction to the Lightning Hopkins style in the key of E.
Another great, beginner level, instrumental in the key of E - from the playing of Lightning Hopkins. Each verse includes new licks, single string runs, and ideas to expand your playing in the ultimate blues key. Be sure to listen to his original recording!
Big Bill Broonzy was/is one of the true giants of this style of guitar. This classic tune is one of his more approachable tunes. You can keep it simple or learn to play some of the great licks and the solo heard on his original versions.
Yet another Mississippi John Hurt tune to get you started playing in the key of A.
My version of the Big Bill Broonzy classic in the key of A.
This is an instrumental tune I perform that includes all kinds of Robert Johnson licks in the key of A.
A Lil' Son Jackson tune in A - another very cool song not often taught.
We close the key of A out with a more complex tune by Blind Boy Fuller - one of the tougher acoustic blues guitarists to learn. This is MY version of this tune - trying to stay as true as possible to his original versions.
The first song I ever learned to play on acoustic guitar and a great start in the key of D. Again, it's by Mississippi John Hurt.
This song is played in what is called "Dropped D Tuning." Many country blues songs are played in alternate tunings. Dropped D is one of the easiest to learn! Just tune your low E to a D and you are set to go.
Another Tommy Johnson tune in Dropped D tuning. It sounds complicated, but it's one of the easier tunes to get the hang of.
I do believe this was the first-ever guitar instrumental recorded - in history! It's by a man named WIlliam Moore and also played in Dropped D tuning - which allows an alternating bass on the 6th and 4th strings. I learned the Steffan Grossman version and later discovered the original recording. My lesson includes some of both - focusing on the original.
Blind Blake was, arguably, the most talented of all the country blues guitar players. This is one of his "easier" tunes to learn - also in Dropped D. The last two solos are not taught, but I have included TAB in case you want to work on it.
This Mississippi John Hurt is one of the easier country blues guitar tunes to learn. It introduces the Key of G - which is one of the more powerful sounding keys to play in - right up there with E!
This is a Blind Boy Fuller classic in G. It's a great tune for learning some solo ideas in G.
This is among the most-covered Robert Johnson tunes and one of his easier tunes to learn how to play. It's in the Key of G.

About the instructors

 

David Moore

Guitar Teacher
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   I am a high school teacher who has played and studied traditional blues guitar styles for more than 30 years.  I specialize in electric blues recorded between the years 1947 and 1970.  I also play and teach pre-war acoustic blues.  I love all forms of American roots music and have been playing the guitar since I was 17.   I enjoy teaching and sharing what I've learned with others.   I have recorded two CDs and am working on a solo CD - hopefully to be out in the Spring or Summer of 2020.  

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