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Watch the Slow Blues Shuffle online guitar lesson by Robbie Calvo from Power Phrasing

Phrasing over a slow blues progression, in my opinion requires a great deal of restraint. There’s a tendency for a lot of players to blow pentatonic blues lines from the get go, leaving little space for emotion and then running out of steam at the end of their break.

Specific rhythmic and judicial placement of our notes on this slow shuffle groove is going to prove very powerful for your blues playing development, at the very least it’s a new perspective. I know there are a million and one ways we could phrase over this slow blues but I’m going to throw a concept at you that I think will open up your phrases, letting them breath and give you a solid foundation for emotive, succinct and tasteful lines.

My approach is this, we are going to phrase our lines starting on the 2nd beat of the measure, but not on the downbeat, the second 8th note of the triplet. Here’s an illustration of the phrase start point 123…2 2 3…323…423

Phrasing simple lines from the 223 leaves space between the chord changes and sounds a lot more interesting than phrasing on the downbeat. Let’s hear how it sounds against the track. We’ll be using the A minor pentatonic scale for the most part and adding in a couple of sweet notes to outline the chord changes.

Don’t freak out if you are not hitting the sweet notes at this point in the exercise, the note placement is more important to begin with.You can work on the melodic content later.