5 November 2008

Blues Guitar Video Lessons with Arlen Roth

This post introduces you to a small treasure trove of blues guitar lesson videos at the Gibson web site. The series with Arlen Roth shows lots of useful and interesting blues techniques and ideas that you can add to your playing.

Arlen Roth has played and taught guitar since the 1970's, working with some of the top names in the music business. He was a pioneer of video based guitar teaching when he created his Hot Licks video lessons back in the days of VHS tape. Arlen was ranked in the top 100 influential guitarists of the century by Vintage Guitar magazine.

Here are my three favourite lessons from his Gibson selection.

Funky guitar

This is my favourite lesson where Arlen shows you some really funky blues riffs. Weaving neat little bass riffs around a few dominant chord forms, Arlen makes it look easy. His riffs don't use that many notes or very sophisticated techniques but they are very effective.

The riffs look easy, but playing them is another story, so it's off to the practice room for me...

Funk Rhythm Guitar

R&B arpeggios

This lesson shows how to create some of those great sounds you hear in good ol' rhythm and blues ballads. These slow numbers have some beautiful sounding arpeggios for you to work on. Reminds me of the great song, To The Lord, on Ben Harper's album with the Blind Boys of Alambama. Oh, yessee Lordy! I hear ya!

R&B Arpeggios

New Takes on Old Turnarounds

"What can I play on the turnaround?" That's a question I often find myself asking whenever I learn a new blues song. It's not easy to play something that marks the turnaround feel but doesn't sound too cliched.

In this video Arlen shares some great ideas for building original turnarounds. Not only do the examples he shows you sound good, they also give you ideas you can use to create new turnarounds of your own.

New Takes on Old Turnarounds

That's just a small personal selection from over 50 blues guitar lessons by Arlen at Gibson. I love his calm and clear delivery, his style is so cool and soothing that watching a lesson is better than meditation!

One thing to note is the way you can see how all Arlen's riffs relate to chord positions he plays. I think that's something useful to learn, I'm working on trying to integrate my scales and chords knowledge like that.

Gibson has built a valuable resource for guitarists on this site. The material, presentation, picture and sound quality are all excellent. I think it is well worth your time to visit, whatever guitar you play. You can even sign up to receive updates of new lessons by RSS.

By the way, Gibson doesn't pay me anything for writing this, I just think the lessons are cool.


Arlen Roth's Hot Licks guitar instruction videos from Amazon.

Arlen Roth, Toolin' Around Woodstock, Arlen's new CD featuring some great guitar playing.

Arlen's personal web site www.arlenroth.com.

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