How to Play Blues Guitar

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“Riley, I am so sorry that I put you through that experience but it was the only thing I could do to impress upon you what is at stake—and I really think you understand now, don’t you?” said Sonny.
“Yes, I do, Sonny. The Tarborg future of guitar represents soulless playing—playing without heart.” Riley said.
“Exactly. Lesson learned,” said Sonny.
“But Sonny, what I don’t understand is, if the Tarborgs won –what’s the point of even playing in this Battle of the Bands –I mean it’s futile, right?” Riley said.
“So Top Tarborg gave you the ‘Message for Sonny’ routine? I’d like to break a fretboard off up his Tarborg ass . . . Oh I’m sorry, Riley, but he gets to me. I . . . I need to get back in character, stay on our message . . . .” said Sonny.
“Riley, there are many futures. They haven’t happened yet. The one you just experienced simply will not exist and will be replaced by your actions in the Battle of the Bands at the Twisty Road Café. If Rip ‘N Time wins—which they must—then the future that you just experienced will be replaced by a better one,” Sonny said.
“OK.” said Riley.
“Riley, time is of the essence. Tempus Fugit. The Battle is soon before us. So I will speak directly. It is imperative that your playing be imbued with your soul—not my soul –not ‘soul’ in a general sense—your soul. There are ways, methods and means for facilitating this. There are certain scales that are conducive to bringing this about. I call them scales of the soul. You probably know them as blues scales. Playing with blues scales allows the heart and soul to come through. In order for them to sound right, however, certain notes must be approached–bent if you will, and bent in a certain way. Caressed and filled with love . . . .” Sonny said. “But before I continue, you are familiar with blues scales patterns, right?”

E pentatonic Scale--12th Fret

E pentatonic Scale–12th Fret

“Sure,” Riley said. “Like in E, it’s a pentatonic scale and then you bend the G natural up to G sharp gradually–but not quite all the way up. I usually use this scale with an E major chord in an E blues progression.” Riley then played the scale at the 12th fret ascending and descending.
“Good,” said Sonny. “Now play that exact same scale, only this time, imagine your fingers as messengers from your soul and these messengers are showing your soul to the listener.”
Riley played the scale again as Sonny instructed.
“Ah, so much better,” Sonny said.
“Yeah, I feel that way too–I really do feel a difference,” said Riley. “But I wonder, can the listener tell the difference?” said Riley.
“The important thing is that you know the difference,” said Sonny.
“Right,” said Riley.
“OK then, now tell me what you know about the C# blues scale,” said Sonny.
“Well, pretty much the same as E, only now you play the same pattern starting on the 9th fret and you play the C# blues scale with a C# major chord,” said Riley.
“Good, but you can also play that C# blues scale with the aforementioned E major chord—giving your solos a different dimension—still bluesy, mind you, but a sweeter sound than the E blues scale.” Sonny said. Sonny then demonstrated the two different scales while Riley played the accompanying chords.
“Yeah!” Riley said.
“You can also mix and match by starting a phrase with one scale and ending with another.” With that, Sonny played a seamless combination of the two scales.

Sonny's Lick-- Combining E Pentatonic and C# Blues Scales

“That is nice!” said Riley. “Can I use that lick?” she said.
“Of course, make it you own. You don’t have to ask for permission—no one else does,” said Sonny.
“I know what you’re sayin’, Sonny. You just haven’t received enough credit for your playing,” said Riley.

Slippery String Tomkins

Slippery String Tomkins

“Or royalties—but enough about Sonny’s Saga of Sorrow—let’s move on. Have you ever heard of Slippery String Tomkins?” said Sonny.
“Yeah! Isn’t he the guitarist who could bend a string one full octave?” said Riley.
“One and the same. In fact, we came from the same part of the Delta, but it wasn’t until we met in Chicago that we started to trade licks, stories, and techniques— whatever.
“It was on one of those long, protracted ‘whatever’ nights that Slippery decided to take the concept of ‘Fingers as Messengers from Your Soul’ to a whole ‘nother level. You see, Slippery really believed that his fingers were connected to his soul. To Slippery, ‘Fingers as Messengers’ was fact—not figure of speech. At the same time, Slippery was getting increasingly frustrated with the strings on his guitar. He would say things like, ‘My strings are too stiff—I want them to slip and slide,’ He started to feel that they were betraying him— that the strings weren’t responding to what his fingers were trying to say. So that night—and I saw this with my own eyes—Slippery threw away his 6th string and put the A string where it had been; then he placed the D string where the A had been and so on and then when he came upon the empty spot for where the high E string would be, he replaced it with an A tenor banjo string!
“Then Slippery played. The sounds coming from his guitar were pure and true but after the first few notes I really can’t recall any details. It was as if I were under a spell. What I do remember very vividly, is that I saw his very soul and though it was filled with sorrow, it had an indescribable beauty. What it also revealed was a power that I had never seen nor heard before.” Sonny said.
“Ooh, I wish I could’ve been there to see and hear that!” Riley said.
“Yes, sure—but don’t you see—you can harness the power of YOUR SOUL in the same way!” said Sonny. “Riley, what I just told you wasn’t just an entertaining anecdote. It is a directive wrapped in an entertaining anecdote.”
“But here’s the thing Sonny—I already use really light gauge strings on my guitar. So isn’t that kind of the same thing? Won’t I get the same effect?” said Riley.
“No . . . and . . . No.” said Sonny.
And that . . . was that.

“Ultimately the things I’ve said are merely tips and techniques–a means to an end. This will be a guitar battle of the mind and heart. The Tarborgs will try to impress and intimidate with all their high speed technique and wizardry—but that is all it is. They will try to trick you into answering in kind.
“Do not play their game. Do not fall into the trap of trying to play too fast. Riley, you will win the Battle —just play every single note with all your heart,” said Sonny.

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