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  1. #1

    Default Fingerstyle Blues Camp - Course Blog

    I am starting a course blog for Rick Payne and Steve Elliot's Fingerstyle Blues Camp. This is a 5 cd-rom course designed to get beginning and intermediate players up to speed on the fine art of guitar as played by Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, and Lightnin' Hopkins up to Eric Clapton, Keb'Mo, and Alvin Youngblood Hart.

    The actual title is 60 Day Fingerstyle Blues Camp and that is the timeframe I am thinking of attempting to adhere to.

    I will keep in mind three groups of possible readers.

    1. People who will do the course or at least whole parts of it. For example, a third of the course is on acoustic slide guitar, and if someone were to be only interested in that (or any other section) it would be great to have you participate here however you'd like. To this group of people, I look forward to learning a lot with you!

    2. There are undoubtably people who would be interested in picking up a lick/trick or two but would not be interested in doing more than that. Many years ago, I learned a single 12 bar fingerstyle blues solo and have gotten more comments on that than anything else I played. When I find something particularly cool and perhaps not too difficult, I'll make mention of it and you can load up the course and learn it.

    3. A number of people probably do not know much about this style - Solo Acoustic Fingerstyle Blues Guitar - but may be curious. For you, I (and hopefully others) will offer suggestions on artists, cd/downloads, live shows, books, youtube clips, etc.

    Thank you,

    ps. I am aware that David Hamburger has a course that overlaps with this one. I would be very grateful if people with knowledge write about it when we get to specific points of overlap.

  2. #2

    Default Listening Homework

    A major part of the course is the 5 cds that come with it. They are all by Rick Payne and Steve Elliot and are fingerstyle acoustic guitar. The idea is that you are supposed to listen to only these 5 cds for the entire period. This is to get the sounds deep into your brain so that it is that much easier to get them to your fingers and out your soundhole. I think this is really smart (but I wonder how many people have actually done it!)

    I am going to follow the spirit of the idea but not the letter. The cds are good and the guitar playing is great, however they are not all to my taste. For example, I am not a big fan of the singing. However, I will be listening to them a lot and will also be listening to only this style of music for the next 60 days (not hard for me as I love it.)

    I will introduce my collection and my favorites, and if you know someone good, please let us all know!


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Blog Entries



    Thanks for doing this. I have often wondered about this course and will be looking forward to your entries. Perhaps I may take a shot at the course myself once I catch up with what's on my plate now.

    It should keep yuo busy and learning for awhile. No doubt your repertoire and knowledge will grow measurably from doing this. And you will be providing insights for others to benefit from.

    Good luck with the course and blog and thanks again.
    Stay tuned


  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Blog Entries


    "2. There are undoubtably people who would be interested in picking up a lick/trick or two but would not be interested in doing more than that. Many years ago, I learned a single 12 bar fingerstyle blues solo and have gotten more comments on that than anything else I played. When I find something particularly cool and perhaps not too difficult, I'll make mention of it and you can load up the course and learn it."

    I know exactly what you mean. There are some wonderful fingerstyle pieces that aren't super difficult that people love to hear. For instance Josh Gibson posted a wonderful arrangement of Take Five here:

    And I am always on the lookout for great and not to difficult fingerstyle arrangements of classic songs. So any heads up is greatly apreciated.

    Glad you decided to do a blog, especially this one as it's a bit different than many of the others. Good luck, I am sure a lot of folks will be reading your posts
    Too soon we grow old, too late we grow wise

    "I once played notes so fast that light emanated from the strings whereupon, I saw God.... who then told me to relax and start playing music."

    "You know, once you've had that guitar up so loud on the stage, where you can lean back and volume will stop you from falling backward, that's a hard drug to kick." David Gilmour

    Truefire Science Officer (dabgonit....where's my blue shirt!)

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Blog Entries


    This is great Charles. The first courses I bought from Truefire were David Hamburger courses and I'll follow this one with you. (as time permits - you know - meteors falling to the earth, floods, daily crisis events that require time and effort). You've seen the different styles of doing this and you know I think the best ones are the blogs that are a self discovery by the blogger. When you learn something so do we. NO pressure, take your time and enjoy yourself.
    Enjoy Your Karma, after all you earned it.
    “Atheism is a non-prophet organization.” -George Carlin

    email: -

  6. #6


    This is a good course, I have done bits of this course from time to time so if I can I will try and keep up with you on this one.
    Sometimes life sucks, but God is always good!!!

  7. #7


    Thanks for the replies!

    1st lesson: E minor blues. This lesson intro's the idea of a steady bass with melody on top. Exercises 1 to 6 get you going to put an independent melody on top of a single note bass. Btw the instructors are from the UK so the talk is of quavers and semi-quavers, etc instead of quarter/ eighth notes.

    Then there is a simple 12 bar blues to practice the things previously learned. The lesson ends with chord charts showing how to play two note intervals up and down the neck and the instruction to throw these into the 12 bar piece. It is emphasized that this is an improvisational art and one should start messing around right away.

    There are a few things to watch out for. The written music, the audio, and the video for ex 3 differ. The exercise is to practice triplets and eighth notes over an open E string bass. The biggest problem is the video in which Rick says he will play triplets and eighth notes but only plays eighth notes. You might want to listen to the audio more (for this ex. only) as it is more accurate.

    Another problem is that in the 12 bar blues the form is not explained. This fine for itself, but in the next section we are asked to throw in chord bits that are labelled by the chord name. This might be difficult for someone who is not familiar with the 12 bar form. If you are, it will be very easy and with only the few elements that are introduced, you will be able to play for a long time without repeating yourself. Very cool.

    One thing I learned about my own playing here is that I have a tendency to try to make a jump from notation to finger movement bypassing my brain/ear. I was having a problem with one of the melody rhythms until I realized I was not listening to the melody. I listened to the audio track again, made sure I could sing the melody, and then found it was very easy to play.

  8. #8


    Lesson 2: Dampening the Strings

    Clear separation between bass and melody is very important in this style as it is a single person that provides both. A good way to do that is to dampen the strings you are playing the bass line on with the heel of your palm. This lesson teaches you how.

    The song covered is "Baby, Please Don't Go" a popular blues standard. On only lesson 2 and we are getting into authentic material!,_Please_Don't_Go

    Here is a clip of the song played by Big Joe Williams who, according to the Wikipedia article above, was the first to record it.

    Here is a clip by Lightnin' Hopkins, the Texas blues master and one of my absolute favorite singer/guitarists.

    This would be a great melody for anyone to learn regardless of style. "Quote" it in a solo and I am sure you'll turn heads.

    The next part of the lesson introduces the E minor pentatonic/blues scale in two fingerings with the instruction to impovise freely with them while keeping a solid bass underneath. Pretty easy and a whole lotta fun. I lost track of the time jamming. BIAB? I don't need no stinkin' BIAB. I got my right hand thumb to back me up!

    There is a challenge hidden here. One of the sections is on playing eighth notes for the bass instead of quarter note and also playing melody over it. If they were straight eighths, yeah, but swing eighth notes? Impossible! The notation shows all eighth notes, but I noticed that even Rick drops some of them on the video. A challenge! I will work on it.


  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Blog Entries


    Great post and way to supplement the material with some videos. I went and watched all the level 2 lessons. Some are short but each one adds a little something. Nothing fast paced. A solid introductory lesson. What I hadn't looked at before are the lesson materials. Great .pdf files! Very colorful and easy to read with sound and powertab links right on the pages for online users. I really like them. I think it would make a nice book to accompany the course. Excellent work TF
    Too soon we grow old, too late we grow wise

    "I once played notes so fast that light emanated from the strings whereupon, I saw God.... who then told me to relax and start playing music."

    "You know, once you've had that guitar up so loud on the stage, where you can lean back and volume will stop you from falling backward, that's a hard drug to kick." David Gilmour

    Truefire Science Officer (dabgonit....where's my blue shirt!)

  10. #10


    Thanks Wolfboy1.

    Lesson 3: Improvising the Blues

    Actually if you have been following the course instructions carefully, you will have been doing a lot of improvising already. Here is just another lesson to keep that up.

    Reading Wolfboy1 ' post, I realized I should have explained the format of the course a bit as it is set up differently than the newer courses Truefire puts out. You open a manual which is a pdf file and there is a short explanation for each lesson, a link to an audio mp3, a powertab file, and link(s) to video. Also there is tab/standard notation for a piece or else scale/chord charts depending on the lesson. Very easy to use.

    This lesson has a written out 12 bar jam which will help you get triplets under your fingers and into your ears. Put simply, a triplet is a set of three notes you play for one count of the beat. If you count "1, 2, 3, 4", you start playing the three notes when you say a number and make sure you finish before you say the next number. My convoluted description probably messed up what will take you all of 5 seconds to understand when you listen to the piece.

    The video shows Rick playing the written out piece and then changing it up a bit. The audio is quite different and we are instructed to steal bits to add to our own impovisations. One cool thing he does is to play a classic turnaround, not at the end, but in the fourth bar leading into the A chord. (If you don't know about turnarounds, don't worry, there is a whole lesson or two later about them.)


  11. #11


    Hello Charles,

    I'm glad you picked this course. I have often wondered about it and have made a few inquiries about the course over the years. I will be following your blog in hopes of gaining a better understand on what the course covers. I have really enjoyed your blog so far. Keep up the great work.
    I want to die in my sleep like grandpa, not screaming like everyone else in the car.

  12. #12


    Thanks Jrhoden, let me know if you have any questions.

    Just found this. This is Mance Lipscomb, one of the old masters. The first three lessons have been putting a melody over a steady bass in the key of E. This bit by Mance is a steady bass in the key of A, but I think you can get a sense of what we are working on and toward in this course. Enjoy!

  13. #13


    Awesome video. I would love to be able to play stuff like that. It doesn't appear to be overly difficult but sounds great. of course the guy playing might just be making it look easy. I don't know why I think I have to play a hundred miles an hour to sounds good. I have gone over some of the videos on Truefire T.V. Between them and reading your blog, I think I'm sold on this course. Can't wait to get my hands on it and start playing some fingerstyle blues.
    I want to die in my sleep like grandpa, not screaming like everyone else in the car.

  14. #14


    Quote Originally Posted by jrhoden View Post
    I think I'm sold on this course. Can't wait to get my hands on it and start playing some fingerstyle blues.
    I think this might be a good one for you. I was reading your thread on slide guitar, this course is about a 1/3 slide guitar and seems to start nice and easy, taking you step by step through it.

    Speaking of Mance, did you notice the huge cast on his right hand middle finger? He's playing like that with a broken finger!

  15. #15


    Lesson 4: Chicago Shuffle

    This lesson introduces a 12 bar piece that has a dual bass line. The bottom bass note remains constant while a higher line moves up and down over it.

    The piece should sound familiar as Eric Clapton uses it a lot. It is the main riff for the song Change The World.

    Check it out.

    Also, the same fingering is used in ACDC's Rock and Roll Ain't Noise Pollution. (I am on a Rock fast, so sorry, no link. Only Acoustic Blues for 60 days!)

    The last little bit of the lesson is on an idea which Rick calls pick and strum. You pick the low notes which move up and down on the down beat while hitting the high strings on the upbeat. This will be expanded in the next lesson. Warning: on the audio Rick is playing in E while the notation is in G, the video shows Rick playing the same as the notation, in G.

  16. #16


    I did notice that. I meant to comment on it. Once I get into some more fingerstyle and slide stuff, I might buy me a dobro. I am also thinking of buying a telecaster. I just need to figure out where all this money is coming from.
    I want to die in my sleep like grandpa, not screaming like everyone else in the car.

  17. #17


    Lesson 5: Walking the Bass

    This lesson is a continuation and expansion of the previous lesson utilizing the "pick and strum" technique.

    It begins with an audio of Rick playing and singing Blind Blake's Police Dog Blues. This is for motivational purposes as it is complex. It is also a good reminder that this music is largely about singing and the guitar is there to back up the singer.

    Here is Blind Blake's original.

    We first practice the walking bass technique with a single note melody over it on a G chord and then in a complete 12 bar progression in G.

    This is basically the entirety of famous song by another master, Leadbelly's Good Morning Blues.

    This one is much more in the realm of possibility concerning ability level. Once I got the piece somewhat down, I worked on singing over it, a lot of fun.

    In the next part of the lesson, we work on doing the walking bass in E, the key Leadbelly is playing in the above clip. The chords E and A are covered with the whole 12 bar piece being the subject of the next lesson.

  18. #18


    Lesson 6: Guitar Boogie

    This lesson covers a 12 bar piece consisting of a simple melody over a bass line in E. I found it useful to work on playing the bass line while singing the melody to really get the piece in my ear instead of just notes on a piece of paper. Adding the melody then was very easy and then changing it up was easy too.

    Looking ahead, I have noticed something about the structure of this series of lessons which teaches the technique of playing a melody over a bass and adding improvisation. The creators have added rhythmic and or melodic elements into each piece step by step.

    For example, thinking only bass lines, Lessons 1-3 taught a single note bass played on each beat (4 per bar) while Lesson 2 intro'd throwing in eighth notes once in awhile. Lesson 4 taught us putting in a bass melody on the upbeat while keeping the single note bass on the downbeat.

    Lesson 5 has us playing an arpeggio/melody in the bass line on the 4 notes per bar. And now, Lesson 6 has us again throwing occasional 8th notes into the bass line. Looking ahead, I see that 7 adds triplets.

    My thinking on this is that while this is an intro to blues/solo blues guitar, these first lessons could also be thought of as an intro to solo jazz guitar. Solo jazz guitar instructional material often throws the student into the deep end giving the student difficult theoretical material while simultaneously expecting the student to master the difficult art of playing bass/melody. Then on top of this, the student is expected to improvise!

    If you are working on Mimi Fox's Solo Jazz Guitar, for example, and are having trouble, you might try working quickly through these lessons before going back. Kind of like when you start weighlifting, you practice the exercises with no weight on the bar before you start packing on the pounds/kilos.

  19. #19


    Lesson 7: Internet Blues

    It would be nice if they'd explain the titles for some of these lessons/pieces. I have no idea why it is titled this. It is another 12 bar (with an additional 2 bar ending) piece to further develop our skill of playing a melody over a bass line. This lesson adds two note chords to the melody. Technically, it is getting a bit tricky.

    The chords are played with the middle and ring fingers of the fretting hand while the bass line is played with the index and pinky. This piece is a good finger isolation/independance drill.

    As I wrote in the previous post, a new element in the bass line is the addition of triplets. The melody is made up of 2 bar sections and a triplet is used in the bass to go into the next 2 bars. The chord of course changes at the 5th, 7th, 9th, 10th and 11th bars (plus an additional change in the ending bars.) The bass line triplets make a nice way to lead into these changes.

    The method I have been using to work on the piece can be described as "Divide and Conquer." First, I memorized the bass line without any triplets, playing straight quarter notes, 4 to the bar. Then, I added the melody with the chords over it, memorizing this. Then I played with it a bit, changing the melody slightly, improvising. Next, I went back to only the bass line only, adding the triplets and bass line eighth note melodies that are added at the 9th and 10th bars. Once I got that done, I again added the melody on top. The next step was to improvise on top of the complete bass line.

    I will be going on to the next lesson, but this is definitely a lesson I will continue to work on as I have a lot of room for improvement here and there is so much good/important stuff.

  20. #20


    Lesson 8: Blues For Brusgard

    This is a bit of a "hump" piece. Once you get over this, the next seems to be easier. It is a song incorporating all that we have learned previously. It is a 12 bar blues with a 4 bar bass melody intro ending on the 1 chord (E) in the last (17th) bar.

    The difficulty for me was/is that there is a lot of chromaticism is the bass, making it hard for me to hear the piec in my head. So.... Divide and Conquer!

    I skipped the bass line in it's entirety in the beginning and worked on learning the melody over a simple one note bass, just like we did in the earlier lessons. The chords follow a basic 12 bar progression in E, so when the chord is an E, I just thumped on the E note, 4 notes to a bar, the same with the other two chords.

    (For explanation purposes, I am ignoring the first 4 bars of the intro, calling the actual 5th bar the 1st as it is the first bar of the 12 bar form.) There are some cool variations in the form.

    Actually, I am running late for work, so I am going to finish this explanation later. There is so much good stuff here that I want to go over. I am sitting here thinking wouldn't it be cool if this was my job? I love playing and I love sharing! But off to work.

  21. #21


    Lesson 8 cont.

    Ok, my morning work is finished and I have a few hours before the evening work begins.

    12 bar blues + 4 bar intro = 16 bars with the last chord on the 17th bar. Like I wrote before, the form of the blues, namely, the 12 bar form is not elaborated. I am undecided as whether or not it is important to have a theoretical understanding to begin the path to mastery here or not. It IS important to hear how the chord changes and probably by just following the course you and I will pick that up.

    To really appreciate how well together this course is put together it is essential to see and understand the structure. At the beginning, we went through a one chord blues with "Baby Please Don't Go" and up to now the most basic 12 bar form has been followed.

    In this lesson, two cool variations are introduced. The most important is the quick change, a change from the I chord to the IV chord in the 2nd bar. Also there is a cool walk down in the 12th bar of a II7 chord to a bII7 chord leading to the I chord in the extra bar (13th).

    So after working on the melody while thumping on the single bass note 4 to a bar, I then put the melody to the side and worked on just the bass line which arpeggiates the underlying chord and also adds chromatic notes. The arpeggio as bass line is from earlier lessons so it is only the in-between notes that are new.

    I found that this was the best way to practice (and still need a lot of work on it) because I cannot "hear" such a complicated bass line in my head yet. Away from the guitar, I can hear a 12 bar bass line going up and down the arpeggio in my head but cannot do so with these "passing tones". No problem on its own but when I am trying to add a melody over it or even (God forbid!) improvise over it, without the bass line solidly in my brain, my playing becomes mechanical and I am playing from my fingers rather from my brain (and hopefully from my heart.)

    I did go ahead and start to add the melody and had a great time doing so, but I am a long way from freely improvising like I was soon able to do with the previous lessons. This will be a fun challenge I shall return to again and again.

    Lastly (I suppose you could do this in the beginning) I worked on the 4 bar bass intro. Putting it all together, there are fingering challenges, so the quickest way is probably to watch the videos carefully.

    Next lesson is simpler. I promise.

  22. #22


    Lesson 9: Shuffle Rag

    This is a somewhat simple piece in G. Most of what we have been working on has been in E, so it is nice to work on another key.

    Ragtime music had a somewhat separate evolution from blues so the chord progessions can be different with more of a jazz/pop type structure. This piece is a 12 bar piece but we have 2 bars of the I chord, G, and then 2 bars of the IV chord, C. This is then repeated exactly the same with the same melody in the next 4 bars of the piece.

    The best part of this new piece is the turnaround. Listen to it/play it and you will realize that this is something you have likely heard many times before, a solid piece that I am sure will come in handy often.

    This piece is described as "based on an old Big Bill Broonzy tune" but they don't name the tune. What is the name of the tune! I don't have much in my cd collection from Big Bill, so I would have appreciated learning the name of the original tune so I could buy the appropriate cd.

    The name of the piece has brought up a couple of questions for me. "Shuffle" and "rag" both indicate types of rhythm, historically. How is it that this piece is both? Certainly I am thinking too much, but as I heard once, "Sometimes you can get more stinkin' from thinkin' than from drinkin'."

    For those that agree;
    Wikipedia definitions!
    Ragtime music
    Shuffle rhythm

    For those who just want to enjoy Ragtime guitar;

    Ragtime guitar is a whole subset of acoustic blues and there are guitarists who specialize in it. Check it out!

  23. #23


    Lesson 10: Fishing Blues

    This last lesson of the first section of this course is a really nice ragtime piece called "Fishing Blues." It has a great yet simple melody and has a nice walking bass underneath it. A wonderful piece to keep in your repertoire to impress both your friends/family and yourself.

    It was written and first recorded by Henry "Ragtime Texas" Thomas.

    Here is a link to a recording of the song.

    This piece has 16 bars and has a chord structure quite different from a regular 12 bar. In the third bar, we get a hint of the four chord (F) and then a bit of the fifth chord (G) before resolving to the one. Between the F and the G, we get a momentary taste of a D7, a five of five secondary dominant substitution.

    The song is easy to break into sections for practicing which is necessary as there is a lot of finger movement. I have just been tapping my foot, but it would probably be a good idea to use a metronome to gradually increase speed and also to make sure I am keeping the correct notes on the correct beats.

    My next two steps are to memorize this song and to gradually get it faster and faster. Ragtime songs sound great when they are zipping along.

  24. #24


    On to the second disc!

    Fingerstyle Blues 2.1

    Lesson 1: Thumb and Finger Workout

    This lesson is 8 one bar exercises, starting with review of monotonic (one note) bass and progressing on to alternating bass (alternating between the root note and the octave above it). In the key of E, each exercise adds a new element, most of which have been covered in the pieces on the first disc. So presumably, this is a chance to go back and review and to go further in adding elements to our improvisation practice.

    I think it would have been a good idea for the course to have explained 1. how these exercises are going to be useful and 2. how to practice them. I am familiar with the 12 bar form, so I took each exercise and inserted it into that form, altering it to fit the A/IV chord and playing something I learned before on the B/V chord. Just playing the individual one bar exercises bored me after a couple of minutes, yet applying them was fun and useful. I am just not sure that a complete blues beginner would be able to do this at this point of the course.

    Looking ahead, there aren't any whole pieces on this disc, it is all short exercises/ideas. I will keep this in mind and explain how I utilize the ideas in my playing to hopefully give you some good ideas.

  25. #25


    2.1 Lesson 2: Fingerstyle Gallery

    A continuation of the previous lesson, this lesson is made up of 8 two bar phrases, 6 in E and 2 in A. A lot of blues musicians are referenced, the licks are each described as "in the style of.." All of these are more difficult than the previous lesson's examples, these are all real world riffs which will surely be useful to know when you start to explore specific guitarists' styles.

    Again, there is no instruction as to how to fit them into my playing, so I just plugged each into 12 bar improvisation practice.

    There are too many musicians mentioned to dig up cool links on, so I will just list them.

    Robert Johnson
    Muddy Waters
    Blind Lemon Jefferson
    Big Bill Broonzy
    Doc Watson
    Lightin' Hopkins
    John Lee Hooker
    Blind Blake

    All were master bluesman, check 'em out!

  26. #26

    Default Listening Homework Redux

    All the gentlemen in the previous post are all long passed. However acoustic blues is far from dead! (it doesn't even smell that way Mr. Zappa.)

    These guys are probably not making much money, but they are a fine tribute to the wandering bluesmen of teh past.

    Zep fans, check this out. This is the incredible Alvin Youngblood Hart doing Leadbelly's version of Gallows Pole.

    Corey Harris, very smooth, very nice.

    One of my absolute favorites, Catfish Keith. The whole package is awesome, but that vibrato, especially, puts a shiver down my spine. "Wouldn't mind dying... cause I'm a child of God. By and by I'm going to see the King!"

    This last one is Chris Whitley, whom the New York Times wrote "evokes Chet Baker and Sonic Youth as much as Robert Johnson."

    See you tomorrow!

  27. #27


    2.1 Lesson 3: Turnarounds

    In this lesson we get a list of 13 turnarounds. 8 are in the key of E, 3 in the key of A, and 2 in C. In the written part, a turnaround is defined as an intro or outro "that we associate with the blues." How turnarounds are used is not explained until the last demonstration on the 13th turnaround. In the explanation, Rick uses the word "key" in a way I have not heard before. He describes how you can change the last chord to either a I chord or a IV chord depending on whether you want to end the piece or start another go-around. In C, you can resolve the turnaroud to the "key of G" leading back to the beginning of the tune, or in E, resolving to the "key of B". I don't know whether this is a mistake, or just another way of terminology.

    Again, I do not know if what is taught here is sufficient for the blues beginner to start to utilize these right away or not. I consider myself a low intermediate, so this lesson is really great for me. I listened/watched/played through each example and found that I knew 4 of them already, giving me 9 new turnarounds for my arsenal!

    My thoughts on these (and any licks in general) are that they should be so ingrained that they pop into my playing without much thought. So with that in mind, here is my process for learning these. I went through each and picked one, which I will throw into my playing again and again. Hopefully, after a few days, it will start to stick and I will go back and try it with another. Wish me luck!

  28. #28


    2.1 Lesson 4: G Tuning and Fingerstyle

    As the next lesson is on open D tuning, we only have one day to master open G. Just kidding! This emphasizes that this course is a great overview and that each section can and should be worked on over longer periods of time.

    Open G and D are the two most common open tunings in the blues. This is tuning the guitar to a chord, so that when you strum the open strings, a chord sounds out. This makes playing in the respective keys very easy. This also makes slide guitar easier as well, so this is a first step to the slide lessons that will come later in the course.

    The first page consists of chord diagrams of the primary chords in G. With the strings retuned, we have to relearn all the shapes. Fortunately, they are very easy. Like before, the chord diagrams show the whole neck with no fret markers and no numbers to indicate fret. Also, the last chord is mislabeled as a D when it is really a D7.

    The second page is a simple 12 bar blues. The first video has Rick playing it straight through and in the second, he explains it and then does a freer version. I learned it and then started improvising by adding the chords I learned earlier. It was fun playing the 4 and 5 chords and hearing something similar to what Robert Johnson played. Warning - the tab is wrong in a few places, listen carefully to the audio and watch the video several times, and above all, trust your ear. You'll get it easily, I am sure.

    The last page of this lesson gives us four new turnarounds. I memorized the 12 bar and then kept cycling it adding each turnaround in turn. I will probably pick one new one to do for a longer period of time exclusively until they each stick (like the last lesson).
    Last edited by charles; 09-14-2009 at 05:31 PM. Reason: got the lesson title wrong

  29. #29


    2.1 Lesson 5: D Tuning and Fingerstyle

    This lesson starts us off on open D tuning. An explanation I often hear as to a historical difference in the blues, is that open G was often used by rural players and open D by city players. This is undoubtably a simplification.

    There, unfortunately, is no whole piece, no 12 bar like the open G lesson. We do get all the elements to build our own. So after practicing all the bits, I had a great time putting them together in many simple go-arounds of the 12 bar.

    Some of the licks are taken from Blind Blake's Police Dog Blues. A bit tricky so going slow and gradually speeding up is working best. Nothing like the original yet, though.

    The Texas style of the blues is referenced and three players are mentioned as examples; Blind Blake, Blind Lemon Jefferson and Blind Willie Johnson. Gee, I hope I don't have to poke my eyes out to master this stuff!

    A cool thing about this tuning as compared to G is that the bottom string is the root of the I chord. This gives a nice full sound playing all six strings. In G, the root is the open 5th string, the 6th string is a D, the fifth.

    I have heard that all lot of players who work with both standard and open tunings often keep specific guitars in specific tunings so as not to have to be retuning all the time. This makes a lot of sense. I do think that constantly retuning the guitar from one tuning to another is very good for the ear and all of this will be good for learning slide. In slide, there is a stronger reliance on the ear vs fret markers so all the retuning is good for you! Honestly!

  30. #30


    2.2 Lesson 6: Ragtime Blues - The Guitar Shuffle Explosion

    Provocative name and a really cool lesson. We are back into ragtime and back into standard tuning. The lesson begins with a review of a previous lesson. First the picking pattern is practiced without any fretting, and then the whole piece is reintroduced. I have found that practicing picking patterns without any notes is very effective. A lot of this style of music is starting the right hand off and forgeting it. I sit down in front of the tv, mute the strings, and just play patterns. (This is how I finally got used to the thumbpick.)

    Once, I got used to the basic piece again, the lesson was to add single string lines in place of chords in the progression, fills. The progression starts off with 2 bars of G and then 2 bars of C. Instead of C, you play single note lines from the C blues scale. Rick offers 3 examples which are very nice. I practiced the first one individually, then put it into the whole progression cycling over and over until I could get it up to a reasonable speed. Then I learned the second example and started cycling it and the first one through. Then the third one. After a bit of time of doing this, and while keeping the pace slow, I started to take the notes of the three examples and mix them up creating my own versions.

    The last page has Rick playing a more complicated version of the whole piece. It is theorectically more complicated and includes single note lines thrown in over the other chords as well as the C. One of the coolest is in a single bar of F, which is changed to a half bar of F and a half bar of Eb diminished.

    Stuff like this, again, makes me think that this course is a great precursor to learning solo jazz guitar. Like solo jazz guitar, we are learning here how to take a simple tune and arrange it and spice it up all on the fly.

  31. #31
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    Another rendition of "Fishin Blues"

    Another cool one from "Catfish Keith"

    Charles I want to tell you EXCELLENT JOB!

    I went through all your posts tonight and I found them very descriptive and they have given me a solid understanding of the course. It appears to really be something I want to work through especially hittin the ragtime styles like it is now. THanks so much for the videos as well....Catfish Keith you can just call me Walleye Wolfboy
    Too soon we grow old, too late we grow wise

    "I once played notes so fast that light emanated from the strings whereupon, I saw God.... who then told me to relax and start playing music."

    "You know, once you've had that guitar up so loud on the stage, where you can lean back and volume will stop you from falling backward, that's a hard drug to kick." David Gilmour

    Truefire Science Officer (dabgonit....where's my blue shirt!)

  32. #32


    I hope I'm not Chum Charles! Don't want to attract any sharks.

    Seriously, thanks Wolfboy. I appreciate the kind words.

    2.2 Lesson 7: Fingerstyle and Chord Playing in the Blues

    This lesson starts off with two standard ways of playing E and A chords open at the end of the neck. We learn a new rhythm to use them in and then we jump right into playing E chords up the neck. "Up the neck" means we play a basic open E chord and then shift our hand up the neck and play the same chord with a different fingering. Then we do it again two more times. We get 4 different ways to play an E chord in different place on the neck (technically - inversions).

    Rick divides the neck into the upper 4 strings and the lower 4 strings (of course the two middle are the same, not an 8 string guitar!). So we end up with 8 different ways to play an E chord.

    Rick teaches us a 12 bar called Inversion Blues in which we utilize the chords we just learned. But that's not all, as they say in late nite commercials. This piece has a lot of diminished chords linking up the up the neck chords. These are not clearly explained ( and I think this is appropriate given the scope and intentions of the course and this specific lesson). So, my next step is to figure out the structure of diminished chords in the blues so I can freeely improvise with them.

  33. #33


    2.2 Lesson 8: Compendium of Effects

    No digital delay, no Jamie's Cryin' phaser effects here, by "effect" Rick means technique. And "compendium" means a list of 4 techniques, all of which have been covered before. However, they are all absolutely essential to the genre, so in this lesson we isolate each one before putting them into a simple 12 bar progression.

    We get one example each of palm muting, string bending, hammer-ons/hammer-offs, and sliding up and down a string. Next Rick demos a single 12 bar go-through without any of the techniques to provide a base of comparision and then a turn with the techniques added in turn.

    It is not specifically mentioned, but I believe it would be a very good idea to go back over various lessons and see/hear where we might effectively add this stuff in a more conscious manner.

    If you are new to the guitar, this section will deserve a certain amount of time to work on. If you are new only to this specific styleand not to the guitar itself, you will blow through this quickly.

  34. #34


    2.2 Lesson 9: Chord Review

    This lesson has confused me a bit. It is just 20 chord grids showing various inversions of about 8 chords we have learned in previous lessons. What I don't get is the instruction: "Remember, the boxed numbers help you identify the chord that has been played in the previous tab exercises and instrumentals: b exercises and instrumentals."

    Each chord grid has a boxed number 1 to 20 with it, but I have no idea what they correspond to. Most of the chords are in the Lesson 7 piece "Inversion Blues" but not all. They are listed here in roughly the same order as the piece but again, not exactly.

    The word "Remember" must mean that either I have missed a previous instruction or something is missing. I also don't know what "b exercises and instrumentals" refers to.

    As this is a separate lesson, we are supposed to be doing something, but it is not made clear what that is. In the course, there is no mention of the chord progression of the blues. So, unless you already know it, it would be hard to review these chords with this lesson alone. For example, several diminished chords are shown, yet I don't know the underlying structure of how to add them freely into a 12 bar progression. So just seeing a chord grid of a diminished chord that I previously learned as part of a tune, doesn't help me in any way.

    All negative criticism today, sorry!

  35. #35


    Acoustic Slide Blues (ASB)
    Lesson 1: History

    Today's lesson is a history lesson but don't fall asleep like you did back in school. It's only one page and I truly believe that being aware of the background of this style of music will make it come alive. Greater success will come by thinking of what we are doing not as "practice" but instead "turning keys to open new doors". Know that by putting a slide on finger, we join a long line of music lovers trailing back to young African-Americans tying wire to barn doors and Hawaiians attempting to recreate the sounds of nature.

    To add to the History Lesson:

    Robert Johnson: Crossroads

    Son House: Death Letter Blues

    Blind Willie Johnson: Dark Was The Night

    This course's instructor (awesome playing!)
    Rick Payne: Porgy's Blues
    Last edited by charles; 09-20-2009 at 05:58 AM. Reason: fixed links, thanks John!

  36. #36


    Hello Charles,

    Just wanted to say again that you are doing a great job here. One thing to note here is that the last tjhree video links are the same. Just thought I would bring it to your attention. Thanks for taking the time to do this blog.

    I want to die in my sleep like grandpa, not screaming like everyone else in the car.

  37. #37


    Quote Originally Posted by jrhoden View Post
    One thing to note here is that the last tjhree video links are the same.
    OOPS! Links (hopefully) fixed.

    Thank you so much for the kind words.


  38. #38


    You are most welcome. I was clicking on the links and kept going to the same video. For a moment there, I thought I was losing my mind.
    I want to die in my sleep like grandpa, not screaming like everyone else in the car.

  39. #39


    ASB Lesson 2: Guitar Techniques and Tips

    No playing yet, but a lot of good advice. Choosing a slide, setting up your guitar, and most importantly, how to get a good vibrato.

    A crucial element of slide playing is dampening the strings that you don't want to ring out. Rick does this differently than some other teacher/players I have seen, for ex. David Hamburger, Bob Brozman, Keith Wyatt, etc. With the slide on the pinky, Rick uses his ring finger behind the slide to damp unwanted strings. The other three guys use the ring finger to support the slide and the index finger to dampen. Check out D. Hamburger's Slide Shop course on this site to see what I mean.

    Both ways surely work, so I mention this only because it is likely the way you start playing this style will become a habit which would likely be hard to break later.

    There is some advice to avoid manufactured glass slides as they lack sustain and brightness. I have a slide I bought cheap at a music store and have been a bit disappointed at the sound. So it looks like I will be getting something better.

  40. #40


    ASB Lesson3: Exercises

    This lesson has 4 groups of exercises with the slide. The tuning is open G.

    Group 1: Up the string(s) chromatically to get control over the note. There are six, starting simple (but not necessarily easy) and progressively adding something making it more difficult. The first is simple notes up the neck. This is deceptively difficult. Playing fretted guitar, there is a bit of a fudge factor as to where we place our fingers on the fret. With the slide there is none. We must land exactly on the correct point or the note will be out of tune. With each successive exercise, we add sliding (this actually makes playing in tune easier), vibrato and multiple strings.

    Group 2: This time we interspace the note with the slide with an open note. Open, 1st fret, open, 2nd fret and on up the neck. Again this is difficult, because we have to do it right or it is out of tune. Then again, add slides and vibrato.

    Group 3: This set starts to bridge the gap between exercises and melodies. We are sliding between frets, for ex. 2nd and 7th, etc.

    Group 4: This is the hardest for me, hammer-ons and pull-offs with the slide. Honestly, I still don't have the hang of it and will be working on this. I didn't even realize that this was possible.

  41. #41

    Default Great Job!!! :)

    Wow man, this is some great info you got here Charles!

    It will be a valuable guide when I go through the course! (whenever that will be)

    Keep up the good work!!!


    A lack of effort will give you a lack of results. PebberBrown)
    MY GEAR: Epiphone 2007 Les Paul Standard; Ibanez AEF30E Acoustic/Electric; Fender 2008 MIM Stratocaster; Epiphone Studio 10s 19watt
    Line 6 Spider ll 30watt; Yamaha CG172SF; Digitech RP300A

  42. #42


    Thanks for the support Jimi! I really appreciate it.

  43. #43


    ASB Lesson 4: Chords and the Slide in G

    This lesson lays out how to play chords with and without the slide in open G. If you are starting with the slide lessons, these are new, but if you are doing the whole 5 cd course, a lot of this is review from the previous lesson on open G.

    The new chords with the slide are the G, which is just the open strings, C which is played by barring all the strings at the 5th fret, and D which is the same as C but two frets up. Also shown is how to get a two string version of those chords as dominants.

    If you know any three chord blues songs, you can throw these chords in to practice them quite easily. One of the first songs I learned was Leadbelly's "Good Morning Blues" so this is where I usually start when learning new blues moves. If you know the 12 bar form you can throw them into that and cycle around, varying it with different chord forms each time.

    The text seems to indicate that you can play George Thorogood's Bad To the Bone with these three chords. You can't. You can play it with the barred C at the 5th fret and the barred B at the 3rd fret. Check it out.

  44. #44


    ASB Lesson 5: Riffs and Patterns in G

    As the title indicates, this lesson is a bunch of short licks in open G, 22 of them to be exact. The first section has 14 phrases that incorporate the techniques we learned in the previous lesson, slides, vibrato and hammer-ons and pull-offs. Again, HOs and POs are really difficult with the slide. With pulloffs, I often find myself plucking the note with a right hand finger (cheating). I am working on isolating just these two techniques.

    The second section is entitled Wider Interval Riffs and consist of playing two notes at a time that are at least two strings apart, these sound really good, very full/dense. There is a similar Ry Cooder type lick as in the non-slide previous open G lesson. The diagram at the top refers to the last lick on this page, not to all of them.

    The third section is Bass Accompaniment With the Slide In G. Here we have four simple licks over an alternating bass. I think that playing a monotonic bass under the various riffs is easier and so started with that. I went back to the previous lesson's exercises and did them again with a bass. Note: as we are in open G, the root note is the 5th string, not the 6th like in the lessons where we played riffs over an E bass in standard tuning.

    The last section is on quarter tones, notes between notes. As my ear is not yet used to it, this is difficult. In the book Deep Blues, author/blues historian Robert Palmer describes a change in Chicago blues from older players like Muddy Waters who could hear and use quarter tones and younger players who couldn't. So I am not going to worry too much about getting it right away!

  45. #45


    ASB 2 Lesson 6: Intros and Turnarounds in G

    Today's lesson has 6 turnarounds and 2 scale grids. The turnarounds are not too difficult to play. They range from more simple sounding (a Delta flavor) to more complex with counter melodies (a Piedmont flavor). I am thinking that too know as many turnarounds as possible is important as each musical condition calls for a different kind of turnaround. An obvious example is if you are playing a somewhat complex piece a simple turnaround might not go well with it, and vice versa.

    There is one turnaround that goes up to the 15th fret. Both the audio commentary and Rick's explanation on the video mention how difficult this is on an acoustic. We need to keep the slide at a right angle to the fretboard so this requires some fancy hand/arm/slide positioning. On the video, Rick is supporting the slide with his left hand ring finger.

    The last page has two scale grids from which to make up your own turnarounds. One is on the first four frets and the other is at frets 10 to 12. As turnarounds have a specific purpose, ie. to lead back to the I chord, you need to carefully listen to hear if you are indeed doing that. No mindless riffing allowed!

  46. #46


    ASB Lesson 7: Three Killer Instrumentals In G

    There is a lot of meat in this lesson for the beginning slide guitarist. It consists of 3 pieces played in different styles. The first piece is called G String Blues and is a 12 bar in the Mississippi Delta style. Having done the previous exercises, it was not so difficult and was a lot of fun. There is an instruction to vary it up. To do this simply is easy, but I realized that I need more work mastering the fretboard. Also, a lot more listening to this style is definitely called for!

    The second piece is called Hooker Blues, no, not that kind of hooker, John Lee Hooker!

    The tune is similar to John Lee Hooker's "Boogie Chillin'"

    You might recognize the riff from ZZ Top's "La Grange."

    In Hooker Blues, we play a simple phrase with our fingers to which we respond with two chords played with the slide. I have had a hard time getting the two chords out on time and in tune! To play it accurately, I slow it way down. I am sure that over time I will get used to it and incrementally speed it up.

    The third tune is called Mudslide, a piece in the style of Muddy Waters. Muddy Waters was a Mississipi sharecropper who moved to Chicago and became rich and famous. Most of his stuff out is electric and he largely leaves the guitar playing to his (very capable) sidemen. However, I did find this, solo Muddy on acoustic slide!

    Mudslide was somewhat difficult for me. We are playing simple melodies over an eighth note bass, rather than quarter notes. The IV and V chords are played by covering the 5th and 1st strings at the same time. Also, the tune has one of those dreaded pull-offs. Once I get this tune down, I will be showing it off to someone.

  47. #47


    ASB Lesson 8: Open Tunings

    Todays's lesson is on open tunings other than G and D. First is a list of 14 different tunings! Wow, I certainly didn't go through and try each one. The text/audio explains that in the blues, it is best to stick with tunings that produce a standard chord when you strum the open strings, G, D, A, E, etc.

    There is one riff in G minor (strings tuned D, G, D, G, Bb, D). At the end, there are two riffs in dropped D (same as standard, only lower the 6th string to a D).

    The bulk of the lesson is about how to play slide in standard tuning (otherwise known as open E minor 11 tuning). This might be of interest to those who want to incorporate a little slide into their playing but don't want to have to deal with new tunings. Slide in standard is actually a bit difficult. When playing in a tuning that corresponds to a chord, all the notes at a particular fret sound good together. The slide can be a bit difficult to control, but if other notes accidentally sound out, it still sounds good. When this happens in standard, the accidentally hit note is likely to sound bad. So, to play slide in standard, solid control and a high level of muting skill is necessary.

    An awesome slide player who generally plays in standard is Warren Haynes of Govt. Mule and the Allman Bros. Warren is the one standing, sitting down is Derek Trucks, whom I believe is in open D.

    This clip is really good for us as we can see very clearly how both these great players are holding their slides and employing dampening.
    Last edited by charles; 09-26-2009 at 06:49 PM. Reason: too much coffee the 1st time

  48. #48


    ASB Lesson 9: D Tuning

    This lesson is an intro to open D tuning. There is an explanation that the difference between this tuning and open G. The idea is that the layout of G lends itself to chord changes and that open D with the top note being the tonic, allows more expressive melodic playing over the D chord itself. This means that "D tuning doesn't care if you change chords or not."

    I have been listening to Ry Cooder's "Paris, Texas" in the car to and from work everyday, so I had a blast running through the lines given in the lesson. If you only want to impress yourself or significant others with backporch early evening looking out over the bayou emotive slide blues, skip everything else and go for this and the next lesson. It's easy and it sounds great.

    Here is the beginning of the movie Paris, Texas.

    Here is Ry Cooder live on TV playing "Vigilante Man."

    Here is Blind Willie Johnson playing "God Moves on the Water."

    If you want to play along with the youtube clips, be aware that while they are all in the open D tuning, Paris texas is tuned up to D#, Vigilante is D, and Blind Willie is tuned down to Db.

  49. #49


    ASB Lesson 10: Three Instrumentals in Open D

    In this lesson, we are taking the techniques and riffs we learned in the previous one and putting them into whole tunes.

    The first is called "Cold Ground" and is based on Blind Willie Johnson's "Dark Was The Night, Cold Was The Ground." this one piece was the inspiration to practically the entirety of Ry Cooder's Paris, Texas soundtrack. And this album has obviously been a big influence on Rick Payne. If you take a listen, you'll hear why. Beautiful, spacious, and haunting.

    Links to the original song has already been posted on this blog. I posted it on 9/29 and Wolfboy posted a link to Catfish Keith playing it on 9/19. Check both out, both are excellent.

    The second tune is a bit trickier. I can play though it, but at a quite slow speed. It will definitely require a good bit of practice to get it up to acceptable speed. It is called "Bristol Blues" and is based on Tampa Red's "Denver Blues." Tampa was an amazing slide guitarist based in Chicago. Here is Wikipedia on him.

    I was reading an interview with a well-known contemporary acoustic blues guitarist who said that the reason Robert Johnson didn't permanently move to Chicago was Tampa Red, who could apparently smoke Johnson any day of the week.

    I couldn't find any clips of Denver Blues but here is Tampa Red's "Grievin' and Worrin' Blues."
    "Went down to the corner, with a gun in my hand. Took care of my woman, 'bout lovin' another man." Look out Jimi! Tampa did it first! Hey Joe indeed!

    The third song of the lesson is "Outlaw Man" and is based on Ry Cooder's "Vigilante Man" to which I added a link in the previous post. This is another piece which sounds great played solo guitar freely and with lots of open space.

  50. #50


    Yesterday's lesson was the last one of the course. There are 29 chapters/lessons and I have gone through each and have watched/listened to/played each example. Right now, I am thinking of what to do next.

    For those of you reading this blog to get a sense of the course, I hope it has been useful for you to make the decision whether or not to do it. A detailed review will come in the next post. For those who are actually doing the course, the blog will continue as we got another month together!

    I am serious about the 60 day format of the course and I am serious about solidly integrating all of the material into my playing. For me that means two things. One is to have all the pieces in this course memorized. Some one says to me, "Hey, play that 'Blues For Brusgard' tune", and I can do it. The second is to be able to freely improvise (even if in a simple way) within all of the frameworks introduced in this course.

    I am still thinking about 1. how to do this 2. how to blog it 3. how it can be useful to those of you kind enough to read this.

    re. #3: The course is marketed as a 60 day course, but there is no instruction other than go through one chapter a day with a total of 29 chapters. I want to set up a review/integration system that people can use to actually do 60 days. Kind of like an instruction manual that didn't come with the course. I have been a professional educator for about 20 years and one of my fields of interest is neuroscience and educational psychology. So, hopefully I can come up with something useful!

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