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Play Blues Guitar 4: Rhythm Principles

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 Principles for intermediate to late intermediate students of blues guitar. This Blues Learning Path core course is presented by 7 top TrueFire educators: Robben Ford, David Grissom, Jeff McErlain, Corey Congilio, Jeff Scheetz, Matt Brandt and Brad Carlton. The Rhythm Principles 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 critical to develop solid rhythm skills. Having command of a wide range of chord voicings, rhythm patterns and creative 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 technical and creative skills you need to take your rhythm guitar playing to the next level.

Play Blues Guitar 4: Rhythm Principles is organized into 3 sections. In the first section, you'll tackle Slow Blues. Texas Blues is the focus of the second section, and in the third section, you'll play your way through a series of essential performance studies.

When you've completed the lessons here in Rhythm Principles, you'll find more lessons focused on blues rhythm guitar in Rhythm Approaches, 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.
Blues Guitar 4: Rhythm Principles - Introduction

01: Blues Guitar 4: Rhythm Principles - Introduction

Welcome to Play Blues Guitar 4: Rhythm Principles for intermediate to late Intermediate students of blues guitar. This Blues Learning Path core course is presented by 7 top TrueFire educators: Robben Ford, David Grissom, Jeff McErlain, Corey Congilio, Jeff Scheetz, Matt Brandt and Brad Carlton.

2 min
Slow Blues - SECTION 1: Overview

02: Slow Blues - SECTION 1: Overview

Almost everyone starts off learning a slow blues. The lessons in this section key in on the important concepts that you need to know to not only play a solid slow blues, but add a little variety to your chord choices.

1 min
How To Play the Inevitable 12/8 Slow Blues Like a Pro - Introduction

03: How To Play the Inevitable 12/8 Slow Blues Like a Pro - Introduction

How To Play the Inevitable 12/8 Slow Blues Like a Pro - Introduction is a video guitar lesson presented by Jeff Scheetz. The slow blues is maybe the most common thing you are going to hear at a jam night. So, it is crucial to your jam night bag to have this down pat, and to have some variations you can pull out and use.

6 min
12/8 Slow Blues - Part 2 - Performance

04: 12/8 Slow Blues - Part 2 - Performance

12/8 Slow Blues - Part 2 - Performance is a video guitar lesson presented by Jeff Scheetz. When you hear someone doing these "sliding 6ths" it is instantly recognizable as the blues. We'll spice it up with some chord variations and some rhythm variations.

3 min
12/8 Slow Blues - Part 3 - Breakdown

05: 12/8 Slow Blues - Part 3 - Breakdown

12/8 Slow Blues - Part 3 - Breakdown is a video guitar lesson presented by Jeff Scheetz. We can steal an idea from keyboard players and hold down a drone or common note as we are switching chords. This gives it a really cool sustaining note feel.

5 min
The Thrill is Here - Overview

06: The Thrill is Here - Overview

The Thrill is Here - Overview is a video guitar lesson presented by Brad Carlton. This example is a twelve bar blues in B Minor along the lines of the tune "The Thrill is Gone,” written by Roy Hawkins and Rick Darnell and made famous by the legendary B.B. King.

2 min
The Thrill is Here - Playalong

07: The Thrill is Here - Playalong

The Thrill is Here - Playalong is a video guitar lesson presented by Brad Carlton. This example is a twelve bar blues in B Minor along the lines of the tune "The Thrill is Gone,” written by Roy Hawkins and Rick Darnell and made famous by the legendary B.B. King.

3 min
Double Up - Overview

08: Double Up - Overview

Double Up - Overview is a video guitar lesson presented by Brad Carlton. This blues is only four bars long. We'll repeat the form to make an 8 bar form. Take note of how the chord progression moves from A to C#7 to F#m as this is a slightly unusual change, but makes for some interesting rhythm guitar work.

1 min
Double Up - Playalong

09: Double Up - Playalong

Double Up - Playalong is a video guitar lesson presented by Brad Carlton. This blues is only four bars long. We'll repeat the form to make an 8 bar form. Take note of how the chord progression moves from A to C#7 to F#m as this is a slightly unusual change, but makes for some interesting rhythm guitar work.

3 min
Texas Blues - SECTION 2: Overview

10: Texas Blues - SECTION 2: Overview

Texas Blues can be recognized by the feel, as well as the heavy emphasis on our favorite instrument! In this section you will work through several Texas rhythms and grooves. Getting the right feel down is what you will focus on. Once you have these in your repertoire you will have a good handle on that Texas feel.

1 min
T-Bird Funk - Funky Groove 2

11: T-Bird Funk - Funky Groove 2

T-Bird Funk - Funky Groove 2 is a video guitar lesson presented by Corey Congilio. A funky groove here from Jimmie Vaughan in his Fabulous Thunderbird days. Like many of these funky grooves, they will be riff based with small chord shapes added.

2 min
Calmer Weather - Funky Groove 3

12: Calmer Weather - Funky Groove 3

Calmer Weather - Funky Groove 3 is a video guitar lesson presented by Corey Congilio. One of my favorite examples of Stevie Ray Vaughan's rhythm prowess is in the tune "Couldn't Stand The Weather." I slowed it down and made it applicable for a 12 bar pattern.

4 min
Funky 12 Bar Variation 1 - Performance

13: Funky 12 Bar Variation 1 - Performance

Funky 12 Bar Variation 1 - Performance is a video guitar lesson presented by Corey Congilio. Check out back to back grooves in the Funky section. I'm using "King Thing" and "Can't Deny." Let's get funky and talk about the reason I put these together.

1 min
Funky 12 Bar Variation 1 - Breakdown

14: Funky 12 Bar Variation 1 - Breakdown

Funky 12 Bar Variation 1 - Breakdown is a video guitar lesson presented by Corey Congilio. I like taking my students through different keys. We're in the key of F here and changing keys helps us see and hear things differently. You'll be getting funky like Freddie in no time!

2 min
You Better Learn Yer Darn Tootin' Texas Shuffles! - Introduction

15: You Better Learn Yer Darn Tootin' Texas Shuffles! - Introduction

You Better Learn Yer Darn Tootin' Texas Shuffles! - Introduction is a video guitar lesson presented by Jeff Scheetz. There are Texas shuffles, Chicago shuffles, Flat tire shuffles, Jimmy Reed shuffles, Uptown shuffles. So many variations. The important thing is to remember thy shuffle beat.

6 min
Texas Shuffles - Part 2 - Performance

16: Texas Shuffles - Part 2 - Performance

Texas Shuffles - Part 2 - Performance is a video guitar lesson presented by Jeff Scheetz. Doing the same thing over and over can get boring. It is important to get some variations under your belt, or fingers as the case may be. Remember to start with the basic feel and then spice it up from there.

1 min
Texas Shuffles - Part 3 - Breakdown

17: Texas Shuffles - Part 3 - Breakdown

Texas Shuffles - Part 3 - Breakdown is a video guitar lesson presented by Jeff Scheetz . Keeping that loose "sloppy" sound on this style of a guitar shuffle can really work well. Also, we can play in different registers by throwing in our 6th intervals again.

5 min
Shuffle 12 Bar Variation 1 - Performance

18: Shuffle 12 Bar Variation 1 - Performance

Shuffle 12 Bar Variation 1 - Performance is a video guitar lesson presented by Corey Congilio. In this first variation we'll actually be pulling from three different examples. We'll be using I'm Just Swingin', Shuffle Stops, and Part Bass.

1 min
Shuffle 12 Bar Variation 1 - Breakdown

19: Shuffle 12 Bar Variation 1 - Breakdown

Shuffle 12 Bar Variation 1 - Breakdown is a video guitar lesson presented by Corey Congilio. I believe that rhythm parts have a melody attached to them as well. To me, a melody is anything you can sing or hum to. Many of these rhythm parts will provide that.

2 min
Shuffle 12 Bar Variation 2 - Performance

20: Shuffle 12 Bar Variation 2 - Performance

Shuffle 12 Bar Variation 2 - Performance is a video guitar lesson presented by Corey Congilio. Here we took the funky rhythms Ice Cold Rhythm and T-Bird Funk. We want to move grooves around to different feels to really see how the Factory concept works!

1 min
Shuffle 12 Bar Variation 2 - Breakdown

21: Shuffle 12 Bar Variation 2 - Breakdown

Shuffle 12 Bar Variation 2 - Breakdown is a video guitar lesson presented by Corey Congilio. We're playing a 12 bar blues in C and using just two rhythms here. That's fine because you'll learn how to manipulate these grooves to work best for you.

3 min
Slow 12 Bar Variation 1 - Performance

22: Slow 12 Bar Variation 1 - Performance

Slow 12 Bar Variation 1 - Performance is a video guitar lesson presented by Corey Congilio. Much of this example is centered around the groove Flooded. The turnaround comes from the example Pick Me Up. We're in the key of G and this one shouldn't be too tough to tackle.

1 min
Slow 12 Bar Variation 1 - Breakdown

23: Slow 12 Bar Variation 1 - Breakdown

Slow 12 Bar Variation 1 - Breakdown is a video guitar lesson presented by Corey Congilio. We won't be moving around too much in these slow examples because we don't want to confuse the listener. Remember, keep your rhythm parts melodic too.

2 min
Slow 12 Bar Variation 2 - Performance

24: Slow 12 Bar Variation 2 - Performance

Slow 12 Bar Variation 2 - Performance is a video guitar lesson presented by Corey Congilio. Another example with two grooves. They're so simple yet it takes a lot of discretion to play them properly. Keep it simple with ideas like this one.

1 min
Slow 12 Bar Variation 2 - Breakdown

25: Slow 12 Bar Variation 2 - Breakdown

Slow 12 Bar Variation 2 - Breakdown is a video guitar lesson presented by Corey Congilio. I'm using the slow blues examples "Majorly Slow" and "Be Happy." The double stops that are occuring here are really valuable.

2 min
Boogie 12 Bar Variation 1 - Performance

26: Boogie 12 Bar Variation 1 - Performance

Boogie 12 Bar Variation 1 - Performance is a video guitar lesson presented by Corey Congilio. Two previous groove examples here. I took one from the Boogie section and one from the Shuffle batch. Check it out.

1 min
Boogie 12 Bar Variation 1 - Breakdown

27: Boogie 12 Bar Variation 1 - Breakdown

Boogie 12 Bar Variation 1 - Breakdown is a video guitar lesson presented by Corey Congilio. For the I chord I played the example "Spanky" from the Boogie section. For the IV and V chords I played the example "Riffs Inside" from the shuffle section.

2 min
Boogie 12 Bar Variation 2 - Performance

28: Boogie 12 Bar Variation 2 - Performance

Boogie 12 Bar Variation 2 - Performance is a video guitar lesson presented by Corey Congilio. This uptempo boogie rhythm only uses one example. Sometimes that's all you need! Let's play it and talk about it.

0 min
Boogie 12 Bar Variation 2 - Breakdown

29: Boogie 12 Bar Variation 2 - Breakdown

Boogie 12 Bar Variation 2 - Breakdown is a video guitar lesson presented by Corey Congilio. I really like the example "You Don't Have To Biggie." Notice how just some slight movements on the guitar gets us through the entire progression.

3 min
Funky 12 Bar Variation 2 - Performance

30: Funky 12 Bar Variation 2 - Performance

Funky 12 Bar Variation 2 - Performance is a video guitar lesson presented by Corey Congilio. I'm merging a funky groove example with a shuffle example here. Take "King's Court" and the shuffle groove "Part Bass" again for a cool SRV inspired rhythm.

1 min
Funky 12 Bar Variation 2 - Breakdown

31: Funky 12 Bar Variation 2 - Breakdown

Funky 12 Bar Variation 2 - Breakdown is a video guitar lesson presented by Corey Congilio. We're in the key of E here and the important thing is to be aggressive. You can't play these examples with low energy. Swing for the fences here!

2 min
Texas law - Rhythm #6

32: Texas law - Rhythm #6

Texas law - Rhythm #6 is a video guitar lesson presented by Jeff Scheetz. No jam is complete without a good Texas guitar shuffle. You can use this one to hone your skills at keeping some strings muted while some ring out. That is the key to the percussive sound that will make this rock!

4 min
Performance Studies - SECTION 3: Overview

33: Performance Studies - SECTION 3: Overview

In this section you will work on a variety of different blues feels and rhythms, like a Boogie Woogie, Rhumba blues and even a New Orleans groove.

1 min
Rhumba Blues - Overview

34: Rhumba Blues - Overview

Rhumba Blues - Overview is a video guitar lesson presented by Jeff McErlain. Albert King, known as "The Velvet Bulldozer," was one of the most influential guitar players ever. One of his biggest hits is "Crosscut Saw" which is based on a rumba rhythm.

3 min
Rhumba Blues 1 - Performance

35: Rhumba Blues 1 - Performance

Rhumba Blues 1 - Performance is a video guitar lesson presented by Jeff McErlain. Learning the bass line for a tune is essential, when possible. In this case it is a repeated idea moved through the I7, IV7, and V7 chords. Copping this bass line not only gives you a better understanding of the tune, it also sounds cool.

2 min
Rhumba Blues 2 - Performance

36: Rhumba Blues 2 - Performance

Rhumba Blues 2 - Performance is a video guitar lesson presented by Jeff McErlain. Basically the rhumba is Cuban party music! It is very cool to add a tune like this to a set to keep the night interesting.

1 min
Boogie-Woogie Blues - Overview

37: Boogie-Woogie Blues - Overview

Boogie-Woogie Blues - Overview is a video guitar lesson presented by Jeff McErlain. I am going to show you two variations on the basic boogie infused rhythm. First I am going to use a bit of a Chess Records style, then I will use a bit more of a British approach to the blues.

3 min
Boogie-Woogie Blues 1 - Performance

38: Boogie-Woogie Blues 1 - Performance

Boogie-Woogie Blues 1 - Performance is a video guitar lesson presented by Jeff McErlain. Blues is often about what we don't play. Frankly, all music is like that, at least the good kind! I am using the traditional boogie woogie feel here as the underlying pulse and working around it.

2 min
Boogie-Woogie Blues 2 - Performance

39: Boogie-Woogie Blues 2 - Performance

Boogie-Woogie Blues 2 - Performance is a video guitar lesson presented by Jeff McErlain. Another tune I am drawing on here and what was very influential for me is Eric Clapton's version of the Robert Johnson classic "Rambling On My Mind."

2 min
School of Little Walter - Chicago Blues: Insight

40: School of Little Walter - Chicago Blues: Insight

School of Little Walter - Chicago Blues: Insight is a video guitar lesson presented by Robben Ford. Robben takes us to school on some of his early influences in the Chicago blues genre, sometimes referred to as the "School of Little Walter," named for Little Walter Jacobs, a legendary blues harmonica player.

3 min
Country Blues - Chicago Blues: Performance

41: Country Blues - Chicago Blues: Performance

Country Blues - Chicago Blues: Performance is a video guitar lesson presented by Robben Ford. Robben performs a country-blues-inspired Chicago blues and then breaks it down, demonstrating some of the techniques that he employs to achieve an authentic Chicago sound.

7 min
Blues Shuffle in E - Chicago Blues: Performance

42: Blues Shuffle in E - Chicago Blues: Performance

Blues Shuffle in E - Chicago Blues: Performance is a video guitar lesson presented by Robben Ford. Working now with a bass and drum rhythm track, Robben demonstrates a rhythm guitar approach for a Chicago blues shuffle in E spiced with a few tasty fills.

2 min
New Orleans Gumbo - Song 5

43: New Orleans Gumbo - Song 5

New Orleans Gumbo - Song 5 is a video guitar lesson presented by Matthieu Brandt. This example shows you how to tackle a New Orleans type groove with dominant 7th triads.

2 min
New Orleans Gumbo - Breakdown

44: New Orleans Gumbo - Breakdown

New Orleans Gumbo - Breakdown is a video guitar lesson presented by Matthieu Brandt. This example shows you how to tackle a New Orleans type groove with dominant 7th triads.

5 min
Fishin' Blues - Overview

45: Fishin' Blues - Overview

Fishin' Blues - Overview is a video guitar lesson presented by Jeff McErlain. Well, here it is, the riff that influenced generations: Muddy Waters' "Rollin' Stone Blues," also known as "Catfish Blues." Be sure to check out Muddy's 1950 recording of this song, it's one of the greatest blues tunes and riffs of all time.

1 min
Fishin' Blues - Performance

46: Fishin' Blues - Performance

Fishin' Blues - Performance is a video guitar lesson presented by Jeff McErlain. There are many, many, versions of this classic tune, but Jimi Hendrix's is the one closest to my heart and the one I'm channeling here.

1 min
Fishin' Blues - Breakdown

47: Fishin' Blues - Breakdown

Fishin' Blues - Breakdown is a video guitar lesson presented by Jeff McErlain. The main thing I can say when working on "Fishin' Blues" is to play with intensity. Really commit to the groove, feel, and notes.

7 min
Trampin' Down - Overview

48: Trampin' Down - Overview

Trampin' Down - Overview is a video guitar lesson presented by David Grissom. This song is a 12-bar blues in the key of B, based on the Slim Harpo song "Te-Ni-Nee-Ni-Nu," which was redone by Lou Ann Barton and me to sound like the song "Tramp."

2 min
Trampin' Down - Rhythm Performance

49: Trampin' Down - Rhythm Performance

Trampin' Down - Rhythm Performance is a video guitar lesson presented by David Grissom. This rhythm performance of "Trampin' Down" features a signature Slim Harpo style lick, working its way to higher voicings and variations in the later choruses.

2 min
Trampin' Down - Rhythm Breakdown

50: Trampin' Down - Rhythm Breakdown

Trampin' Down - Rhythm Breakdown is a video guitar lesson presented by David Grissom. In my performance of "Trampin' Down," I start with the signature lick inspired by Slim Harpo. The second chorus adds in some variation, and the third chorus builds on the previous two.

3 min
Blues Guitar 4: Rhythm Principles - Conclusion

51: Blues Guitar 4: Rhythm Principles - 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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