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Blues Phrasing And Expression – Blues Guitar Lesson #9

October 30, 2019

Hey it’s Nate here again and welcome to video
#9 of the Blues Guitar Quick-Start Series. So far for your lead guitar, your lead blues
guitar, we’ve been talking about the blues scale, where the root notes are, how to start
choosing your notes in the blues scale to play over the chords in the 12-bar blues progression.
Now, in this lesson, we’re going to focus a bit more on feeling and the style. We’re
going to talk about phrasing, bending, vibrato and sliding. These elements can really add
a new level of self-expression and emotion to your guitar playing. So what we’re going
to do is talk about each one in turn, and I’m going to show you how you can apply them
to your blues solos to make them better. The first thing I want to talk to you about
is phrasing and when I talked about phrasing I almost always think about two things. I
think about blues singers and I think about call and answer themes. When you’re playing
a blues solo, you don’t want to sound like you’re just playing through a scale shape.
That’s the last thing you want. So one way to think about making your stuff not sound
like that is to think about blues singers. If you haven’t listen to match blues music,
I’ll recommend is go and listen to some singers especially for their phrasing. They state
something. If they have something to say then you take a break or something and then they
have another line that they say. That’s kind of the way you want it, in general the way
you want to think about your blues solos, right? And sometimes that goes kind of hand
in hand with that as far as the blues phrasing of blues singers, right? Is repeated themes.
If I start a blues solo and state a theme, I’ll take a break for a couple of beats or
whatever and then restate the theme. That does a couple of things – that breaks my
phrasing up and makes it more natural. And it gives my solo some cohesiveness.
So, here’s an example if I played this lick. I can play it, wait a few seconds and then
state it again, maybe end it a little differently. So, think about those two things next time
you pull up a jam track to practice your blues leads. Break up your phrasing a little bit.
Make a sound more like a singer, right? And then have a stated theme that you call and
then answer to. Now, let’s talk about bending a little bit
as far as a self-expressive tool in the blues. Bending can be a huge part of your sound and it’s kind of a sound that we’ve come to expect in the blues, right? You just expect to hear
that whining sound and bending in the blues can be half-step bends, whole-step bends,
or even further. The important thing is that you realized that bending is a tool at your
disposal to make your playing your sound more bluesy. Now to help you realized that I’m
got a lot of licks here for you then incorporate some bends.
This first lick is really heavily emphasizing the root note of the I chord if you’re in
E blues. So we really heavily emphasizing the E note. So take your third finger on the
3rd fret of the B string and we’re going to bend that note up. That D note, a whole-step
towards an E. And then we’re going to play an open E and then we’re going to come back
here and play the 2nd fret of the D string. So we’re hitting really three E notes bending
up to one, then hitting the open E, then the second fret of the D string. 1 and 2 and 3
and 4 and. And one tip I want to give you for that lick
is when you’re bending a whole-step especially or whole-step or greater you want to use this
many fingers to come help out with the bend as possible. That way it makes easier on the
finger that you’re bending with. Alright this next little bending lick starts
on the 4 and bends up to the flat 5. It’s basically a half-step bend where I bend that
note up and let it back down. And then I’ll play the open G string. Come down to the 2nd
fret of the A string, second finger, and then open D string, 2nd fret of the D string to
end up on your root note. So this is kind of emphasizing the I chord too.
The tip I want to give you for this bending lick is just to double check your bend, so
if you’re bending up a half-step here, double check that half-step bend against the actual fretted note that’s one fret higher. It’s always good to double check your bends. The next element that I want to talk to you about is vibrato. Vibrato is a very self-expressive tool that you can use to really kind of give your solos their own unique sounds. At its
most basic level, vibrato is just bending and hold up and letting you back down over
and over again, so. And there are two different elements that you can use to kind of customize
your vibrato to convey whatever emotion or feeling you’re trying to get out to your
blue solos. The first one is the speed of your vibrato. It can be slow or can be fast,
it’s just depends on what you want to convey at that particular time. So work on slow and
fast vibrato that way when you need either of them, they’d be right there for your grab.
The second element of vibrato that I want to talk to you about is the width of your
vibrato, you can have really shallow vibrato where it’s barely noticeable. Or you can have really wide vibrato to where it’s really noticeable. Experiment with both of them, see what you
come up with and try to develop your own unique voice with your vibrato. Again, I like to
think about singers, they have a really distinct way of using the vibrato that we guitar players
can kind of pull from. Sliding is another stylistic little element
that can really add some unique flavor to your playing. And by sliding all I mean starting
on one note, and sliding up to another note or starting on one note and sliding down to
another note. And depending on which note you choose to start on and which note you
choose to slide up to again have some pretty drastic effects. It can give some really bluesy
or jazzy sounds to your playing. So, to help you understand this, I’m going to show you
two blues licks that achieve a very specific sound. One is sliding up to the flat 5 and
the other one is sliding up from the flatted third to the regular third. I’ll show you what
I mean. This first lick starts on the 4th of the blues
scale and slides up to the flat 5. And sliding up to the flat 5 or down to it either way
can be really bluesy sounding, so, remember that. Let me show you the lick now.
On the tab, you’re going to see a three with a slash on it, that’s just mean you’re going
to slide up to the 3rd fret and I’m going to do that from the 2nd fret. Then you’re
going to go to the open G string and then to the 2nd fret of the G string. So, so far you have…from
there you going to hit the open D, 2nd fret of the D, open G, you have a rest there and
then back to the root note of the I chord. The E right there on the 2nd fret of the D
string. So practice that lick and then just practice sliding up and down to the flat 5
note. And it’s going to sound really bluesy for you.
This next sliding lick is going to show you how you can slide up from the flat third of
the blues scale up to the regular major third of what would be like in a major scale. So,
start off on the 3rd fret of the high E string, that’s the third, lower third of the blues
scale. Play that note and on the tab you’re going to see that there’s a slash on the four
that means you’re going to slide up to the fourth fret from the fret below it. So that’s
your first note. Slide it up for the flat third to the regular third and this can give
you a really jazzy sound just in general. After that slide, play the open high E string
and then the 3rd fret of the E string. Again, back to the open E string, down to the open B string, 3rd fret of the B string, open E string. Then you’re going to go to the root
note of the scale, the 2nd fret of the D string right there, that E note. 1, 2, 3, 4. So play around with those two sliding ideas. Slide up or down to the flat 5 and then slide up
from a flat third to the major third and see what you can come up with.
Those are just a few little stylistic tools that you can really start to use to learn
how to express yourself better on the guitar. Take each one, think about them, experiment
with them, pull up the jam tracks and see what you can come up with. Here’s a little
pass between the jam tracks then incorporates all these things Spend part of your daily practice with these little self-expressive tools and see what kind of unique things you can start to come up with. In the next lesson, we’re going to talk about a type of lick called a turnaround lick. So,
get ready for that. If you have any questions, you can leave them here in the comments and
I’ll get back to you there or you can e-mail me [email protected] See you.


  • Reply Cheep N Nasty Guitars February 24, 2015 at 4:52 pm

    are you suppose to phrase the words of the song?

  • Reply STUDIO OF SHRED March 15, 2017 at 1:56 am

    14,500 views but 50 likes and 1 comment?

  • Reply Robby24ish July 12, 2017 at 12:57 am

    You R SO ,ARTICULATE. Thanks, for this will B a great one of many warm_UPS for me. Peace out

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