Intermediate Blues Guitar from National Guitar Workshop is a book and CD tutorial package that teaches electric blues guitar techniques. It covers both rhythm playing and soloing in a number of styles such as blues rock, boogie, and funk blues. The book presents the techniques and examples of a number of blues legends, The Kings – BB, Albert and Freddie, as well as Hendrix, Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughan.
The method targets players who have a basic knowledge of blues chords and scales, or who know rock guitar. The book presents a thorough review of music and blues theory so you can follow the discussion in the rest of the book. If you have little or no blues experience you might find the exercises get hard quickly. The Beginner’s Blues Guitar book in the same series would be a better place for you to start.
The book covers these main topics which I’ll describe in more detail below.
1. Blues theory
2. Blues chords and rhythm playing
3. Blues technique
4. Scales and soloing
5. Licks of the masters
* Blues Theory
To make sure you can follow the notation used in the book a thorough introduction to music and blues theory is presented. The explanations are very clear.
* Blues Chords and Rhythm Playing
The book goes beyond the basic blues 7th chords and shuffle patterns to teach chord extensions and substitutions. You’ll become familiar with exotic chord names like 9th, 11th and 13th. These chords are used in a variety of rhythmic styles from shuffles to comping to funky blues.
There are some nice lessons on R&B style rhythmic fills as played by Vaughan, Hendrix and Curtis Mayfield. These new positions should give you a good challenge.
* Blues Technique
There is a short review of the blues techniques bending and vibrato. These are then used extensively in the chapters on scales and soloing.
* Scales and Soloing
The major and minor pentatonic scales are covered briefly but the book goes beyond basic use. It shows you how to mix the two scales and include some chord tones. There is also lots of information on using double stops (two notes at the same time) with intervals of 3rds, 4ths, 6ths and minor double stops.
* Licks of the Masters
The final chapter is dedicated to example licks from six blues masters: the three Kings – BB, Albert, and Freddie – Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, and Stevie Ray Vaughan. The licks show the characteristic elements of their styles so you can learn and include them in your own playing.
This method is really a step up from the Beginner’s Blues Guitar book in the same series. It will require quite a lot of practice time but you will be rewarded with great blues guitar skills if you are patient. It will show you how to play blues rhythm and lead from slow down-home shuffles to funky blues in a lively and interesting way.
The accompanying CD includes all the examples and is of very high quality. It would have been nice if it included a few longer backing tracks to practice with, but you’ll have to look elsewhere for those.