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Learn How To Play Slowhand Blues - The Blues Scales

May 1, 2008
The slowhand blues is the most prominent technique that makes blues music what it is today. Mastering the slowhand blues will demand time, effort and focus and above all in-depth comprehension of the different blues scales and the blues notes.

Defining blues is not the simplest of things and playing it well is a completely different ball game. There are plenty of great blues players and guitarists in the blues hall of fame to learn from. The fact of the matter is that if you are able to master slowhand blues then who knows you might be able to create a great blues record that will take you to the hall of fame too! But then that's just a thought right now. The main focus should be on mastering the blues scale and creating a blues backing track so that you can practice soloing using that.

When we talk about blues, you need to first learn to differentiate between different guitar techniques. You may be able to do impossibly fast runs or stretch your fingers far on the fretboard to play multiple notes but that's not what blues is all about. There is a degree of emotion and feeling that comes with the blues scale and has been well rendered by the likes of BB King, Albert King and Eric Clapton. Eric Clapton is one of the greats who is so versatile that he can play almost all the guitar styles including acoustic or unplugged, electric, slide, fingerpicking, open tunings, among many others but his real root lies in playing slowhand blues.

Starting with Slowhand Blues

Where do you actually start from especially for mastering the slowhand blues? Tough question really but it depends on quite a few elements like personal influences, the specific key, finger size and special patterns also called boxes. Each box has the notes of an octave in an arrangement that will be easy to play. Once you are comfortable with the boxes, it will help you to play with a blues backing track. The boxes or patterns mostly highlight the places where you can bend an important note with your index finger. One of the best ways of mastering the slowhand blues is by spending more time in researching various positions that will help you to play your strings better. Here is an example of a slowhand Blues scale: The A Blues note


The E minor Blues scale will look like the following:


The E minor pentatonic scale will be like:


A I-----0-2-----------------I
E I-0-3---------------------I

You will have to start with an open E-string and when you reach the D-string, go onto the 2nd fret, which is also an E. You need to play both the notes simultaneously so that you can hear it. To make it easier, download some of the blues backing track for the same and practice with it. One more important thing: Never download any midis of blues backing track as it will not help you to understand the scales and the changes.
About the Author
Get 50 of The Best Blues Backing Tracks at 50 Blues Studios

Take your blues guitar playing to a whole new level by jamming with a live band!

Zack is the founder of 50 Blues Music Studios and has recorded amazing blues guitar backing tracks for blues guitarists
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