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Play Blues Guitar 4: Rhythm Approaches

Ignite your blues guitar rhythm chops with this Blues Learning Path core course.
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Overview

Welcome to Play Blues Guitar 4: Rhythm Approaches for intermediate to late Intermediate students of blues guitar. This Blues Learning Path core course is presented by 9 top TrueFire educators: Larry Carlton, Robben Ford, Andy Timmons, Jeff McErlain, Corey Congilio, Jeff Scheetz, Kelly Richey and Brad Carlton.The Rhythm Approaches curriculum is comprised of select blues guitar lessons from the educators' existing TrueFire course libraries.

Guitarists spend 90% of their time on the bandstand playing rhythm guitar behind vocals and other musicians' solos, which is why it's the most important aspect of your playing. Having command of a wide range of chord voicings and rhythm approaches is what distinguishes great players from the mediocre, and it's also the number one reason that other musicians will want you in their band or invite you back to the jam. The video guitar lessons in this core course will equip you with the skills that you need to take your rhythm guitar playing to the next level.

Play Blues Guitar 4: Rhythm Approaches is organized into 3 sections. In the first section, you'll work on learning new concepts and gaining insight for blues rhythm. Section 2 will have you playing your way through some very cool rhythms and grooves. Finally in Section 3 you will dial in your rhythm chops by playing a series of Essential Performance Studies.

When you've completed the lessons here in Rhythm Approaches, you'll find more lessons focused on blues rhythm guitar in Rhythm Principles, also a Play Blues Guitar 4 core course.

The educators demonstrate all of the key examples over jam tracks (where and when applicable) to simulate a real-world application, in a musical context. Key examples are also tabbed and notated for your practice, reference and study purposes. Take as much time as you need to work through each video guitar lesson before moving on to the next lesson. If you want to dig deeper or wider into any of the topics covered in this core course, check out the rest of the courses in the Blues Learning Path where you'll find more examples, techniques and insight from top TrueFire educators. Grab your guitar and let's get started!

About

Learn how to play guitar with free online guitar lessons and interactive video guitar courses at TrueFire, the world's most comprehensive library of guitar video lessons.
Play Blues Guitar 4: Rhythm Approaches - Introduction

01: Play Blues Guitar 4: Rhythm Approaches - Introduction

Welcome to Play Blues Guitar 4: Rhythm Approaches for intermediate to late Intermediate students of blues guitar. This Blues Learning Path core course is presented by 9 top TrueFire educators. The lessons in this course will equip you with the skills to take your rhythm guitar playing to the next level.

2 min
Concepts & Insight - SECTION 1: Overview

02: Concepts & Insight - SECTION 1: Overview

In this section you'll explore various concepts like using different chord voicings, adding rhythmic accents, and working with single note riffs. These concepts will help spice up your playing.

1 min
Blues Chord Voicings - Concept #5

03: Blues Chord Voicings - Concept #5

Blues Chord Voicings - Concept #5 is a video guitar lesson presented by Jeff McErlain. We can never have enough chord voicings in our bag. Here I will show you the basic dom7 voicings to altered chords. Does A7b9 b13 make your head spin when you see it? Have no fear, it's easy!

8 min
Dominant Chords - Concept #6

04: Dominant Chords - Concept #6

Dominant Chords - Concept #6 is a video guitar lesson presented by Jeff McErlain. I don't know about you but the first time I saw the symbol A7b9b13 I just about fainted. Actually I think I just played A7 instead. Dominant 7th chords can handle lots of harmonic information.

9 min
Blues Feels - Concept #3

05: Blues Feels - Concept #3

Blues Feels - Concept #3 is a video guitar lesson presented by Jeff McErlain. Variation is what makes for a great night of blues; if everything becomes a mid tempo shuffle I start to lose my mind. A perfect example is on the classic recording BB King Live at The Regal. BB knew how to switch it up.

3 min
Accenting Downbeats - Concept #18

06: Accenting Downbeats - Concept #18

Accenting Downbeats - Concept #18 is a video guitar lesson presented by Jeff McErlain. Getting your right hand rhythm technique in shape is a huge factor of your blues playing. The right hand can be the propellant for the whole groove and act like a built in rhythm section.

4 min
Accenting Upbeats - Concept #19

07: Accenting Upbeats - Concept #19

Accenting Upbeats - Concept #19 is a video guitar lesson presented by Jeff McErlain. In this example I am accenting just the up beats and we can hear a dramatic difference. It sounds like a shuffle, because shuffles accent the up beats! By just hitting those up beats we totally change the sound of the blues.

3 min
Combining Accents - Concept #20

08: Combining Accents - Concept #20

Combining Accents - Concept #20 is a video guitar lesson presented by Jeff McErlain. In this exercise I am mixing up all the elements we discussed so far to provide us with a classic blues rhythm that you can get tons of mileage out of. It is important to keep the right hand wrist loose when playing this stuff.

4 min
Blues Comping Approaches - Concept 1

09: Blues Comping Approaches - Concept 1

Blues Comping Approaches - Concept 1 is a video guitar lesson presented by Andy Timmons. In this section, we're going to focus on 14 essential ideas that I use all the time in my playing. I'll show you different things like comping approaches to chord tones, notes choice, and expressive elements.

15 min
Single Note Rhythms & Fills - Concept 2

10: Single Note Rhythms & Fills - Concept 2

Single Note Rhythms & Fills - Concept 2 is a video guitar lesson presented by Robben Ford. Starting around the 80's this kind of single-note rhythm playing developed. Just playing little single-note riffs, little rhythms, adding some kind of harmonic and sonic information that would otherwise be missing.

3 min
Space and Air - Concept 3

11: Space and Air - Concept 3

Space and Air - Concept 3 is a video guitar lesson presented by Robben Ford. The most important thing that you have is your ears. There's something going on around you so your job is to fit into that situation. You listen, you wait, then find the place for what it is that you might add to the situation.

4 min
Shufflin' Fool - Overview

12: Shufflin' Fool - Overview

Shufflin' Fool - Overview is a video guitar lesson presented by Robben Ford. We are gong to do an eight bar blues with a bridge, an uptempo shuffle and this is the chord progression from Little Walter Jacob's song "Just your Fool".

1 min
Shufflin' Fool - Performance

13: Shufflin' Fool - Performance

Shufflin' Fool - Performance is a video guitar lesson presented by Robben Ford. I'm always looking to expand the music. This particular progression is just a joy. Here we have a blues bar with a bridge.

3 min
Shufflin' Fool - Breakdown

14: Shufflin' Fool - Breakdown

Shufflin' Fool - Breakdown is a video guitar lesson presented by Robben Ford. I'm always looking to expand the music. This particular progression is just a joy. Here we have a blues bar with a bridge. it's got that upbeat swinging feeling to it.

13 min
Riff Based Approaches - Rhythm Concept 3

15: Riff Based Approaches - Rhythm Concept 3

Riff Based Approaches - Rhythm Concept 3 is a video guitar lesson presented by Kelly Richey. Now let's look at riff based songs to see how riffs and chords are often used in creating many iconic power trio songs.

12 min
LIVE! Playing with Another Guitarist and Sounding Good - Performance

16: LIVE! Playing with Another Guitarist and Sounding Good - Performance

LIVE! Playing with Another Guitarist and Sounding Good - Performance is a video guitar lesson presented by Jeff Scheetz. Really listen to what the other guitarist is doing. And don't do that! If they are putting in a lot of chord inversions - you keep it straight. Just find that balance.

3 min
Diminished Flavor - Overview

17: Diminished Flavor - Overview

Diminished Flavor - Overview is a video guitar lesson presented by Brad Carlton. Here we add the D#dim7 chord in the second half of measure 2 and in measure 6. You will hear this helps you "step" into the next chord. That is one of the important concepts in becoming a great chord master.

3 min
Diminished Flavor - Playalong

18: Diminished Flavor - Playalong

Diminished Flavor - Playalong is a video guitar lesson presented by Brad Carlton. Here we add the D#dim7 chord in the second half of measure 2 and in measure 6. You will hear this helps you "step" into the next chord.That is one of the important concepts in becoming a great chord master.

3 min
Rhythms & Grooves - SECTION 2: Overview

19: Rhythms & Grooves - SECTION 2: Overview

In section 2 you will learn some classic blues rhythms and grooves. Everything from standard shuffles to Kingbee style grooves. Having a good grasp on a bunch of different rhythms will have you ready for any song you run into.

1 min
Pain No More: Straight - Rhythm 8

20: Pain No More: Straight - Rhythm 8

Pain No More: Straight - Rhythm 8 is a video guitar lesson presented by Corey Congilio. Let's get off of the pain train and play some examples that sound just as good as the big ol' stretched power chords. Basically, in these examples we are inverting the power chord notes.

5 min
Pain No More: Shuffle - Rhythm 9

21: Pain No More: Shuffle - Rhythm 9

Pain No More: Shuffle - Rhythm 9 is a video guitar lesson presented by Corey Congilio. This is the shuffle version of the last example. I want to stress that you can get a lot of mileage out of these examples just by changing the "feels."

3 min
Sittin At The Barre - Rhythm 13

22: Sittin At The Barre - Rhythm 13

Sittin At The Barre - Rhythm 13 is a video guitar lesson presented by Corey Congilio. When I'm teaching beginners, I usually start with open or first position chords. Then, I move on to barre chords, which will physically be the hardest thing you play. If you're a beginner, take your time with these.

5 min
Small Packages - Rhythm 18

23: Small Packages - Rhythm 18

Small Packages - Rhythm 18 is a video guitar lesson presented by Corey Congilio. Now that we've talked about the Colonel Chord, let's break it up into smaller shapes. These smaller shapes are great for playing all rhythm guitar styles.

4 min
Packaged Deal - Rhythm 20

24: Packaged Deal - Rhythm 20

Packaged Deal - Rhythm 20 is a video guitar lesson presented by Corey Congilio. Let's put some of these new ideas together to make a cool funky shuffle rhythm.

4 min
Nothin' But a C Thang - Rhythm 45

25: Nothin' But a C Thang - Rhythm 45

Nothin' But a C Thang - Rhythm 45 is a video guitar lesson presented by Corey Congilio. We're going to get some serious mileage out of these power chord meet 7th chord ideas!

4 min
King of the Bees - Groove 4

26: King of the Bees - Groove 4

King of the Bees - Groove 4 is a video guitar lesson presented by Jeff McErlain. First recorded in 1957, Slim Harpo's swamp blues classic "I'm A King Bee" is a seminal blues classic. This tune stands out not only for the great lyrics but its odd form. The tune is a 15 bar blues.

7 min
Minor Mood - Groove 16

27: Minor Mood - Groove 16

Minor Mood - Groove 16 is a video guitar lesson presented by Jeff McErlain. Minor mood is a nice minor blues variation with some cool changes to spice things up a bit on the turnaround.

7 min
What To Do - Groove 25

28: What To Do - Groove 25

What To Do - Groove 25 is a video guitar lesson presented by Jeff McErlain. Here is a sweet groove that is similar to "Baby What You Want Me To Do?" by Jimmy Reed. This tune actually consists of two guitar parts and we will look at both.

7 min
Back Scratch - Groove 24

29: Back Scratch - Groove 24

Back Scratch - Groove 24 is a video guitar lesson presented by Jeff McErlain. "Baby Scratch My Back" was a hit for Slim Harpo in 1966. This swamp blues classic is almost a dance tune. A traditional 12 bar blues once it gets going but the intro is actually a 10 bar form.

6 min
Dont Forget The Funk - Rhythm 22

30: Dont Forget The Funk - Rhythm 22

Dont Forget The Funk - Rhythm 22 is a video guitar lesson presented by Corey Congilio. The 5th string root 9th chord we learned in the previous example is often considered THE funk chord. There is a lot of funky blues out there and 9th chords are the engine that makes funk guitar playing run.

5 min
Piece By Piece - Rhythm 24

31: Piece By Piece - Rhythm 24

Piece By Piece - Rhythm 24 is a video guitar lesson presented by Corey Congilio. Let's stick to those funky top four string chords again. We'll break down the 9th chords we've learned and continue to make space. I tossed in a little major pentatonic riff on this one too.

5 min
Slow Standby - Rhythm 25

32: Slow Standby - Rhythm 25

Slow Standby - Rhythm 25 is a video guitar lesson presented by Corey Congilio. I call this Slow Standby because you'll inevitably hear a slow blues and you'll be intrigued by the sliding chord sounds.

4 min
Third Base - Rhythm 40

33: Third Base - Rhythm 40

Third Base - Rhythm 40 is a video guitar lesson presented by Corey Congilio. I like this example a lot because it gives you the blues flavor without a bunch of 7th chords. I'm primarily using major and minor thirds to achieve the shapes for this one.

4 min
Performance Studies - SECTION 3: Overview

34: Performance Studies - SECTION 3: Overview

In this section of Performance Studies you will complete several whole songs, like Stormy Monday and Sweet Home Chicago, which is of course the goal of playing - to be able to get all the way through tunes.

1 min
A Shuffle - Rhythm

35: A Shuffle - Rhythm

A Shuffle - Rhythm is a video guitar lesson presented by Larry Carlton. In the next section, we'll drill down on essential techniques and improvisational approaches.

3 min
A Shuffle - Rhythm Insight

36: A Shuffle - Rhythm Insight

A Shuffle - Rhythm Insight is a video guitar lesson presented by Larry Carlton. In the next section, we'll drill down on essential techniques and improvisational approaches.

3 min
Stormy - Rhythm

37: Stormy - Rhythm

Stormy - Rhythm is a video guitar lesson presented by Larry Carlton. Let's slow things down now and dig into a slow blues in A with a "Stormy Monday" kind of feel. Even though it's slow, we still want our rhythm part to develop and progress over the course of the song.

3 min
Stormy - Rhythm Insight

38: Stormy - Rhythm Insight

Stormy - Rhythm Insight is a video guitar lesson presented by Larry Carlton. Let's slow things down now and dig into a slow blues in A with a "Stormy Monday" kind of feel. Even though it's slow, we still want our rhythm part to develop and progress over the course of the song.

5 min
A Slow Blues - Rhythm

39: A Slow Blues - Rhythm

A Slow Blues - Rhythm is a video guitar lesson presented by Larry Carlton. There are many ways you can change the character of a rhythm part even if you keep the exact same rhythmic pattern going chorus after chorus.

3 min
A Slow Blues - Rhythm Insight

40: A Slow Blues - Rhythm Insight

A Slow Blues - Rhythm Insight is a video guitar lesson presented by Larry Carlton. There are many ways you can change the character of a rhythm part even if you keep the exact same rhythmic pattern going chorus after chorus.

4 min
One Way Street - Overview

41: One Way Street - Overview

One Way Street - Overview is a video guitar lesson presented by Andy Aledort. Our last tune is along the lines of one of the greatest blues classics of all time, "One Way Out," which was originally recorded by Sonny Boy Williamson II in the mid-sixties.

4 min
One Way Street: Rhythm 1 - Performance

42: One Way Street: Rhythm 1 - Performance

One Way Street: Rhythm 1 - Performance is a video guitar lesson presented by Andy Aledort. The form of "One Way Out" is essentially a 12-bar blues that is played in doubletime, resulting in a 24-bar blues by staying on each of the chords in the progression twice as long.

1 min
One Way Street: Rhythm 1 - Breakdown

43: One Way Street: Rhythm 1 - Breakdown

One Way Street: Rhythm 1 - Breakdown is a video guitar lesson presented by Andy Aledort. I begin with root-fifth, root-sixth, root-seventh over A by simply picking the open A string along with three different notes fretted on the D string. This figure is then transposed up to D, and later is transposed down to E.

2 min
One Way Street: Rhythm 2 - Performance

44: One Way Street: Rhythm 2 - Performance

One Way Street: Rhythm 2 - Performance is a video guitar lesson presented by Andy Aledort. This rhythm part supports over first approach to a "One Way Out" style rhythm with the use of small chord voicings that move up and down the next for each of the three chords in the progression.

1 min
One Way Street: Rhythm 2 - Breakdown

45: One Way Street: Rhythm 2 - Breakdown

One Way Street: Rhythm 2 - Breakdown is a video guitar lesson presented by Andy Aledort. I begin with sliding two-note shapes played in conjunction with the open A string, sounding the b7, G, along with the maj3, C#. Fretted on adjacent strings.

2 min
Sweet Windy City - Overview

46: Sweet Windy City - Overview

Sweet Windy City - Overview is a video guitar lesson presented by Andy Aledort. We are now ready to tackle the standard 12-bar version of a blues shuffle, and probably the most famous 12-bar blues shuffle of all is "Sweet Home Chicago." It is beloved by guitarists of all generations.

3 min
Sweet Windy City: Rhythm 1 - Performance

47: Sweet Windy City: Rhythm 1 - Performance

Sweet Windy City: Rhythm 1 - Performance is a video guitar lesson presented by Andy Aledort. The approach used for the rhythm parts here are more in line with typical electric blues as opposed to acoustic blues styles.

1 min
Sweet Windy City: Rhythm 1 - Breakdown

48: Sweet Windy City: Rhythm 1 - Breakdown

Sweet Windy City: Rhythm 1 - Breakdown is a video guitar lesson presented by Andy Aledort. Using all downstrokes with the pick-hand, I play the root/fifth-to-root/sixth chords on the bottom three strings using palm-muting throughout.

3 min
Sweet Windy City: Rhythm 2 - Performance

49: Sweet Windy City: Rhythm 2 - Performance

Sweet Windy City: Rhythm 2 - Performance is a video guitar lesson presented by Andy Aledort. This second example of "Chicago blues shuffle" rhythm guitar will augment the first example perfectly, as smaller two- and three-note voicings are moved up and down the top three strings of the fretboard.

1 min
Sweet Windy City: Rhythm 2 - Breakdown

50: Sweet Windy City: Rhythm 2 - Breakdown

Sweet Windy City: Rhythm 2 - Breakdown is a video guitar lesson presented by Andy Aledort. This figure begins with an E7 voicing played in fourth position on the top three strings, and I start out with a down-up-up triplet-based strumming pattern.

3 min
Play Blues Guitar 4: Rhythm Approaches - Conclusion

51: Play Blues Guitar 4: Rhythm Approaches - Conclusion

Congratulations on completing this core course in your learning path! When you're ready to advance your skills further, dive into the next core course in your TrueFire learning path. Practice smart. Play hard!

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