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Blues Guitar Institute

Fingerstyle Acoustic Blues – E Major

Fingerstyle Acoustic Blues Essentials


To continue our study of fingerstyle acoustic blues, we will begin with the very comfortable guitar chord of E major.  In this lesson, we combine the three essential elements of acoustic fingerstyle blues:

  • The driving bassline
  • Playing chords over the bass line
  • Playing licks

Things to Remember

Palm mute the bass throughout

Keeping your palm rested on the low E string as you pump out the rhythm will help your guitar sound like a percussion instrument.  It sounds a little funny saying it, but the constant low end thump takes on some characteristics of a steady kick drum beat.  That is of course, if the right hand palm is used to mute the bass strings down to a dull thud.

Remember the higher strings should be allowed to ring when appropriate.  Just keep the bass muted.

Keep your thumb pumping

Easy to say, hard to do.  Practice keeping a steady beat going with your thumb on the bass strings no matter what your other picking hand fingers are doing.  To begin, just pump out the low E string in quarter note pulses along with a metronome.

Put as much time into this as you can possibly stand.  When I first started learning this style of guitar, I would play just the E string over and over and over.  Granted, I usually did this while watching TV or something that didn’t require much brain power.  But still, there were a lot of hours logged on the acoustic just plucking out this one note.

Start Slow

Ok, so everyone says to start slow.  I hated hearing that when I was just starting to play.  I didn’t want to play slow, I wanted to run at top speed.  And so I did.

I was really into metal then and the measure of a good metal guitar player seemed (at least to me) to be not how well you played but how fast you played.  So, I got fast.  The trouble was, I wasn’t very accurate and my notes were choppy sounding.

They weren’t clear at all.

If I had it to do over again, I would probably pump the brakes a few times and listen to what everyone said.  I spent a few years of my guitar playing tenure undoing a lot of mistakes that I picked up during those years.

I hate to be the one to break it to you, but all those older wiser dudes were right.  Start Slow.

Next Up

Next up in our fingerstyle acoustic blues study, we will move on to the A chord.

Until then,  Keep Picking!

When you are ready, there are two ways I can help you:

Back Porch Blues Course:  A proven system to fingerpicking the blues.  This step-by-step course guides you through building fundamental fingerpicking skills.  Plus, you’ll learn three levels of a delta blues style performance study to put your new skills into action.

Become a myBGI Member: Membership comes with access to Back Porch Blues plus over 70 step-by-step courses.  Get proven results with one of myBGI’s structured Roadmaps.

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