February 1, 2013

Top 10 tips to be a better BLUES player. Don Mock

Top Ten Things to be a Better Blues Guitar Player  

Don Mock

(not in any particular order)
1. A large collection of Blues recordings
2. The willingness and desire to hang out late in clubs listening to good Blues musicians. And be ready to "sit in" with the band if possible.
3. Tone. Having a mediocre tone can make everything you play lifeless and flat. A great guitar sound enhances every note and can inspire creativity in a player.
4. Patients - is a virtue in Blues soloing. A strong player with lots of chops patiently building a solo, "teasing" the audience comes off lot's better than a player "showing their hand" in the first 12 bars. The phrase "less is more" is usually key to Blues playing.
5. Comping. Players with flashy soloing chops who neglect their rhythm playing will lose out every time to the guy who plays great rhythm parts and average solos. In Blues, supporting the singer or other instrumentalists and making them sound better is as important or more than big solos.
6. Emotions. Being able to make the connection from the brain to the fingerboard to communicate emotions is key. Anger, fear, love, feeling blue, joy and even sexual tension are great to express in Blues.
7. Music theory. Not a style of music known for needing to know a lot of theory, Blues can still benefit from a player who knows their stuff when it comes to theory.

8. A good ear. The best teachers are the guys on recordings. And the best way to learn what they're doing is to copy and emulate them. A good ear make learning off recordings much easier. But having a good ear is equally important on stage. Listening to the other musicians and playing off each other
is what live playing is all about. Not listening and paying close attention on stage is a quick way to find yourself band-less.
9. Sing, even if you are terrible. Singing is Blues. Learn the lyrics of a few Blues tunes. When no one's around, pretend you're B.B. King and sing a tune and add the guitar fills in the correct places. A gold-mine for learning about phrasing, comping and fills around the melody. On the gig, sing one if you're brave enough, or simply let someone else sing it, but you will now have a much better feel and connection to the music.
10. Learn and understand the music business as it relates to Blues. Know who all the top national and local players are. Learn about the equipment, strings and guitars different players are using. Also learn about Blues history. Where did it come from? Who were the people that brought Blues to the

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