Watch the B Blues online guitar lesson by Johnny Hiland from Ten Gallon Guitar
All right guys, let's get into some blues, blues, blues! I love playing the blues because it's such an emotional rush to play them and you don't necessarily have to have the blues to play them. Actually what makes the blues so fun is because you can play a little bit more sparse. And I know that it doesn't seem right for a chicken picker like myself to love to play blues but I assure you, it's all based on emotion.
When I started this solo out, I started with this sort of typical playing, and then I gave a little sweep, and what I'm doing there is I'm trying to really growl it. With blues, you want to play how a blues singer would want to sing blues. It's all about stretching the notes out, making them growl and then having a real abrupt tag at the end of that line. Once I finished that line in the key of B, I went back to focal scale in the key of E. I stretched the note a little farther and then I grabbed the D note, which is actually 10th fret- little E string- and then I descended down from the flatted 7 in the E scale. And then from there, I grabbed this note. Notice that little grab is kind of pulling, and when you grab a note like that you want to make sure it has a little soul behind it. You don't just want to grab the note because it sounds too plain; you want to have a little bit of grease behind it. So then, what I like to do on the five chord is do this which is all based on chromatic runs. And now, I'm back in the blues scale, or pattern sort of thing. From there, I'm playing the old Hendrix chord, the old purple haze chord. What you're doing there is creating a little tweak of the ear and you don't necessarily have to hammer on that chord. It's kind of cool to hammer it just a little bit and just know that the chord is structured like that. Why I like the chord is because it gives you a flat seven kind of sound based in the B. And now I climb, and of course I like my blues scale, my blues solo to climb more. Now, you'll see that I hang around the 7th fret a lot in B when I'm playing blues because you can get a lot of the greasiness from there. And then I hammer on to this, and you can do it up on the 12th fret down to the 15th fret.
Then I finish the thing out and now I'm grabbing this bend and now I'm reaching the fourth note of the B scale and now I'm bending that up, growling it up along with the B string above it. Then to end it, I'm actually just using an octave which is really bluesy, jumping off the fourth note on the 9th fret G string, bouncing that off to the 7th fret G string and then ending it on the B note. And then I do a little blues scale run to top it off, allowing me to end on the flatted seven note.
What I want you to understand about playing blues is that it's not about how many licks you can put in there, it's about what you're saying when you play blues. There's days when I've played blues and I come off the stage and people say "You sound like a chicken picker trying to play blues". Well, that's because I'm happy and I'm out there on stage, having fun, ripping it up so it's hard to get into that blues mode. And there's nights when I'm feeling down, and you get that blues spirit, that grease amongst you and you let the notes draw themselves out and you let them bend out there and you don't have to be as precise with the bends but at the same time there are other elements that can be added to this. I played this in the key of B, but I could have just played a bunch of chicken picking as well. So if you want add more chicken pickin’ to your blues, you can! It won't sound wrong. There's all different ways of looking at how you can play blues emotionally. Sometimes you reach a point in the song, where you want it to reach a climatic point in your solo, and that's where you can go back to the bridge pick up and add cool double stock things. So if you want to take the double stock scale and play it in B and just single note the single stock, you can actually do that. Don't be afraid to try chicken pickin’ over blues because it's a lot of fun. And don't forget blues playing is all about emotion, so if you're feeling in a chicken pickin’ mood, throw it in there and have fun with blues. I sure hope you've enjoyed this one because I know I sure have enjoyed bringing it to you.