Here’s One Way to Start a Blues Song

Lesson ID: TB011

I can’t think of a single blues song that doesn’t start with a great intro.

Usually in blues (and in most music forms) there’s a little something special at the beginning of the song that sets up the main groove. It’s a little odd to just jump right into the song at full blast. That doesn’t mean it never happens, think: The House is Rockin’ by SRV. But most of the time, we need to setup the main tune with a couple of bars in the intro.

This lesson is a walk through of the intro I played on the popular Train Whistle Lick.

Technically Speaking…

Finger Picking

There’s actually a lot happening in these two short bars. The picking in the beginning calls on your ability to simultaneously fingerpick the bass with your thumb along with the three top strings. This can take a while to get your picking hand to perform. My advice is to focus on pinching the strings together all at once. It’s similar to the motion of making a fist – your hand closes up.

Chord Slide

As if that weren’t enough, we start out the whole thing while sliding an entire chord up two frets! Really focus on this. Seriously, take the time to get this sounding right. You’re looking for all three notes in the chord to clearly slide up in pitch. Make sure your pressure on the fretboard is the same for each string. You don’t want one string to be louder than another. This should be fluid and balanced. The perfect sound will come with practice.

Putting it Together

Once you get this intro down, simply tack on the Train Whistle groove and you’ll be well on your way to constructing a nice E Blues. Remember that everything worth working for takes practice. I challenge you to take as much joy from practice as you do from actually performing. For me, learning that keeps me going.

So, you may be frustrated with the task at hand but, sit back and know that you’ll nail this soon!

Best of Luck!


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