10 December 2008

Intermediate Blues Guitar Review Update 2

It's been a couple of weeks since my last update on the Intermediate Blues Guitar method by Matt Smith. This book and CD package is for guitar players with a basic knowledge of blues looking to extend their skills. You can read my previous posts on this method I'm working through by following the links below.

So, back to today's update. I've been continuing my work on rhythm guitar skills this past two weeks. I admit my progress through the book was slowed down by two things. One was some time spent learning a few other songs to play with a band. The other is the funky blues fills and Rhythm & Blues fills styles I've been studying in the book.

Last time I wrote I'd already started work on funky blues fills. This technique requires both some mental and finger gymnastics so it's been quite difficult for me to perfect. One thing that would have been nice in the book here are some songs that use this technique to listen to and learn.

Even though I haven't finished with the funky blues fills I took a sneak peak ahead to the next rhythm style, Rhythm and Blues fills.

Rhythm & Blues Fills

You'll have heard this style if you've listened to Jimi Hendrix's Little Wing or Stevie Ray Vaughan's Lenny. This rhythm guitar style involves playing little fills around a chord shape. The fills are played by hammering onto, and pulling off of, notes around the chord.

The book uses open C and G chord forms that have been made moveable - by adding a bar - as well as the F, E minor and A minor bar chord forms. The diagram below shows the C and G forms that you might not be familiar with.

The little bar in each chord is where the open strings normally occur. The bar makes the chords moveable up the fretboard. The white circles are the notes that are hammered-on or pulled-off to.

Now, I've been practicing these on my acoustic guitar and I can tell you that the unfamiliar C and G forms involve quite a stretch. Thankfully the book's examples are played a little way up the neck reducing the stretching a bit. It's still hard to play the hammer-ons and pull-offs cleanly, though. I'm sure it would be easier on an electric.

Once these forms are mastered the remainder of the rhythm guitar chapter combines the funky blues and Rhythm and Blues fills to make some great sounding rhythm backups.

Matt Smith Video Lessons

Oh, almost forgot one other thing I wanted to tell you. I recently discovered that you can follow video lessons with Matt Smith over on Workshop Live. This online music school looks interesting. You can sign up for a month at a time and pick any lessons you want from a huge selection. I think I might be trying it in the new year...

Meanwhile I've got a few more weeks to practice these rhythm fills before I move on to the solo part of the Intermediate Blues Guitar book. Until the next time, may the blues be with you.


Intermediate Blues Guitar by Matt Smith, a National Guitar Workshop publication.

Matt Smith's web site.

National Guitar Workshop - US and Canada reader's can attend summer and weekend workshops with renowned guitar teachers and players.

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