How to Get Started with Piedmont Blues
Start small. Then Build.
Why Piedmont Blues?
Piedmont is a special kind of blues. A kind that finger pickers in particular should note.
It’s certainly not the most popular form of blues music. I suppose that because it has been nearly a hundred years since the great Piedmont artists had their heyday.
Still for me, this Ragtime-tinged cousin of Delta Blues is both challenging and a lot of fun to play. Simply starting the journey of becoming a proficient Piedmont Picker (say that 5 times fast 🙂 will help you build the fundamentals of fingerstyle blues.
The Plan for Learning the Piedmont Style
Fans of BGI will know that I like to start small and build from there. I firmly believe that you can accomplish great things on the guitar if you just learn the right things in the right order.
Building a solid foundation is key. You can add flash and fancy finger work later, but if you jump ahead to that too soon, you’ll likely get frustrated and give up. I know, because I was in this pattern myself for much longer than I care to admit.
So here’s my step-by-step plan for learning some great Piedmont Blues:
- Start by strumming the progression
- Isolate the bass line
- Add a simple melody
- Dress up the progression with style
It’s so tempting to skip from step 1 to step 4. But, here an ounce of patience is worth a pound of progress.
I have put together a few lessons to walk you through each of these four major steps. We start small by learning the chord progression a la Piedmont/Ragtime blues. This is a handy progression to have in your back pocket and if you’ve never played it before, you’re in for a treat. This thing is fun!
Then we ditch the pick and start working our fingers. First by learning a bit about the alternating bass picking with your thumb. Then, by adding a simple melody on top of the bass line. This is where things get really fun (and tricky).
Practice, practice, practice this stage until you can confidently move on. When you’re ready, we can dress the whole thing up with some fills, licks and stylistic guitar tricks. This is where it all comes together.
Check out the lessons:
Adding a Simple Melody – Part 1
Adding the Melody – Part 2
Adding the Melody – Part 3
Adding the Melody – Part 4
Dressing up the Progression with Fills and Licks (Coming Soon!!)