Pete Madsen is an acoustic blues, ragtime and slide guitarist from the San Francisco Bay Area. He's the author of Play the Blues Like..., an essential guide for playing fingerstyle blues in open tunings.
There are several things you can do to get a good slide sound: Set up your guitar with heavier strings, use an open tuning, try different kinds of slides, dampen the strings, and learn to properly intonate. Getting a good sound is often as much a function of proper setup as it is technique.
Listening to players like Mississippi John Hurt, Reverend Gary Davis, and John Fahey will get your ear accustomed to fingerpicking blues. In this lesson, you’ll apply the techniques they’re known for to a 12-bar blues, but you can also use them to play ragtime, early jazz, and folk.
The study of prewar blues includes a heavy amount of time playing in first position—between the nut and the first four frets of your guitar. However, as you learn more and more songs, you might be asking yourself, “What comes next?”
Although known for its steel and brass instruments, National also offers many wood-bodied guitars, both tricone and single-cone biscuit bridge style. The M-14T Thunderbox is the most recent addition to National’s M series of single-cone mahogany resonators.
Slide/bottleneck guitar can evoke flavors ethereal and lyrical or aggressive and bombastic. From Santo & Johnny’s “Sleepwalk” to Elmore James’ “Dust My Broom” and on to Debashish Bhattacharya’s Indian slide musings, this approach delivers a wide spectrum of sounds, emotions, and cultural touchstones.
The most common materials for bottleneck slides are steel, brass, glass, and ceramic. I have also seen slides fashioned from copper tubing and plastic cylinders. Now comes the MagSlide, made of magnesium, the eighth most abundant element, as well as the lightest structural metal on earth.
There has been a revolution of sorts in guitar making over the past 15 years. RainSong, Blackbird, Composite Acoustics, and now KLOS have developed carbon-fiber instruments that can withstand the elements of extreme heat, cold, and moisture without suffering damage.
The partnership between Yairi and Alvarez goes back several decades, with the Alvarez-Yairi stamp reserved for Alvarez’s finest instruments. While much of Alvarez’s line is manufactured in China, the Yairi-branded guitars are made in a small shop in Kani, Japan, where modern power tools are eschewed in favor of hand tools, like spokeshaves for carving necks, and hide-glue construction is standard throughout.
Blues, like folk music, is all about making it your own. The ultimate goal is to study the greats and piece together what you have learned in a unique way. The more sources you borrow from, the less you sound…
Accordion music of the early 20th century might seem an odd source of inspiration for a fingerstyle guitarist, but not for the San Francisco Bay Area musician Craig Ventresco, with his vast musical knowledge of that bygone era. I have…
Introduced in 1968 as a special-order version of the 6-string F-50R, the Guild F-512 had varying appointments, including Brazilian rosewood backs and sides, before it became a regular model in 1974—and a go-to instrument for players such as Pete Townsend, Brian May, Tim Buckley, John Denver, and Dan Fogelberg.