David Hamburger playing his guitar with the series name "12 Ways to Play Better Blues Guitar"

Play Better Blues with David Hamburger

Pete Madsen demonstrates how to play "John Hardy"
Learn Lead Belly’s Version of “John Hardy”
Black and white photo of Algia Mae Hinton
Undersung Women of Blues Guitar

The blues is many things—a collection of styles, an approach to the guitar, a certain musical feeling, a common 12-bar structure, and more. The work of blues guitarists, from pioneers like Robert Johnson and Etta Baker to contemporary performers like Jontavious Willis, inspires music fans and acoustic guitarists alike. Here you’ll learn key concepts, songs, and techniques for playing the blues.

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four portrait illustrations in a side-by-side grid depicting Booker White, Memphis Minnie, Robert Johnson, and Elizabeth Cotten all playing acoustic guitars

Learn to Play in Open G

A lesson on how to play fingerstyle blues in this popular open tuning, using examples from classic songs by Elizabeth Cotten, Robert Johnson, and more.

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country blues guitar fingerpicking lesson john miller

Video Lesson: Country Blues Fingerpicking

The Saturday night lineup at the 1963 Philadelphia Folk Festival included Elizabeth Cotten, Mike Seeger, Dave Van Ronk, and Mississippi John Hurt. In the audience that night was 12-year-old John Miller. The music that made the biggest impression on him was that of Hurt, so much so that weeks later,…

noel paul stookey holding his guitar

Video Lesson: Learn to Play the Talking Blues

Sometime in the 1920s, a peculiar form of blues emerged that was substantially different from the better-known varieties. The style is commonly known today as talking blues. Despite the moniker, however, it rarely employs the 12-bar chord progression that is typical of most blues music. Many talking-blues songs are instead…

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