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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Orville Johnson posing with his guitar

Swingin’ Blues Soloing with Arpeggios

One way to add a coherent sound to your soloing is by using arpeggios. This helps in two ways: the repeating chord tones are always “correct” notes and playing the root, third, and fifth notes of a chord forces you to include interval skips in your playing instead of reeling…

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Play a Ragtime Blues Thumb Roll

One of Blind Blake’s signature rhythmic ideas was a “thumb roll” in the bass. This quick note before the downbeat of the measure adds a unique bounce to the groove. To pull it off, let your thumb roll off the lower string, come to rest on the next one for…