Blues Guitar – The Essential Questions for Beginners

September 14th, 2010

Guitar Lessons Critic has always been drawn to the blues guitar. Do not ask us why. When you truly love an art, or a form of art (in this case blues music), sometimes you cannot truly describe why you love it. You can only feel it.

We always try to encourage a similar type of behavior when it comes to learning the guitar. Why? Like anything, you can over-think or over-analyze a new practice. Sure, you have to think when you learn the guitar. But you also have to let it come natural and sometimes just let your instincts take over.

The blues are quite possibly the greatest raw expression of emotions emulated through music. The blues have even expanded so far as to largely influence jazz as well as rock and roll. Consequently, it’s natural to want to learn an art that has been so influential on others.

…BUT the blues guitar is not for every beginner.

You must ask yourself three central questions. However, before we get into the specifics, let’s start with a very brief introduction of the blues and the crucial guitar elements to the genre.


Blues is a name representative of both a musical form and music genre that originated in African-American communities. The blues are characterized by the twelve-bar blues chord progressions and the blue notes. While based on a particular form, the blues genre also possesses other characteristics such as specific and often depressing lyrics, bass lines and instruments.

The guitar has generally played a very critical role to the blues…

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Question #1: Can YOU Play Chords?

Which brings us to the first question. Can you play guitar chords? If you cannot even play the most basic open chords, then blues guitar lessons are definitely not your most ideal starter lesson. Why? The basics of the blues revolve around the 12 bar blues pattern which requires you to understand the basic chords (A, B, C, D, E, F and G).

Chords are actually easier to learn than beginner guitarists might think at first glance. Several online videos and tutorials will present the basic knowledge and techniques needed to pick up these major and minor chords.

Question #2: Do YOU Understand the Guitar Neck?

We’re not talking about being able to locate the guitar neck on the instrument. We are, rather, talking about the knowledge or expertise that allows you to know the different places you can form chords on the neck. Yes, more than one location exists.

Do you understand the fret spacing between each note? If you have no idea what fret spacing is then, again, you’re probably not well suited for blues guitar lessons just yet. Fret spacing is a central element to blues because you essentially must memorize these in order to easily play blues chord progressions and scales in different keys.

You’ll probably note that most blues songs generally follow a very similar (and sometimes simple) pattern, but the trademark of the genre is how the guitarist often moves around the neck depending on the current key. If you are unsure of whether or not you’re playing in Key of A or Key of D then you should avoid blues lessons for now.

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Questions #3: Have YOU Ever Taken Lessons Before?

The term “beginner” is often tossed around loosely on GLC. When we talk about blues guitar for beginners we are assuming that you have some previous knowledge or instruction on the guitar. If you have never taken private lessons and/or learned from a self-taught course, then we would definitely advise you to spend at least two months to learn the sheer basics of the guitar before diving into blues guitar.

Terms to look up: string names, notes, chords, strumming techniques

Rest easy. You’ll be surprised by how fast you can pick up the basics of the guitar and how fast you can progress into blues guitar. However it would be a misconception to suggest that you can learn blues guitar from day one. Take the time to gain an understanding and appreciation for the guitar, and then transcend into the musical genre you desire to master.

…Until next time, best of luck strumming…

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