What Level Blues Guitar Player Are You

As guitar players we are always trying to figure out what “level” we are at.

Griff Hamlin of Blues Guitar Unleashed did a great article for blues guitar players to help them define where they are at in their playing and how to move to the next level.

If you are a blues guitar player and want to figure out what you need to do to move to the next level, read through his article

Check it out-

—  Level 1  —

The beginning stages are where you are learning basic guitar fundamentals right alongside with learning to play the blues.

You have to learn how to play single notes, chords, how to strum, how to count and keep time, and hopefully you'll learn some fun songs along the way for some experience.

Now soloing? That's not really in the cards yet.

There's really no reason a level 1 student should be trying to learn a bunch of scales and improvising over a blues. That's for later.

—  Level 2  —

At level 2, you should be able to play a few songs and you should have most open and basic barre chords under your belt.

You may not have any of the more advanced chord shapes yet (7ths, or 9ths or anything altered) but that's alright… this is the time for that.

As for iprovising and soloing, this is where you would start learning the pentatonic/blues scale and learning to use it over a blues.

Remember that the minor blues scale is far from the ONLY choice when playing over a blues… but it's the best place to start and many great blues players don't get much past it, ever.

Towards the end of Level 2 you may be introduced to the concept of the major blues sound along with the minor blues sound and how they can be used together.

But by and large I think mastery of that is best left for level 3.

—  Level 3  —

At level 3 we are taking the major and minor blues sounds and using them together (there are very few chords you don't know at this point so we can ignore them from here on out.)

The basics are that you use the major blues sound in conjunction with the minor blues sound over the I chord, while you use the minor blues sound exclusively over the IV and V chord.

This might sound like a simple rule, but the ramifications are astoundng and it can often take just as long to master this idea as it takes to get through playing with the minor blues sound alone!

At the end of level 3 you start using a concept I call “Every Chord is I” where you are able to mix the major and minor blues sounds together so well that you can change keys every time the chord changes!

Playing at this level appears effortless to anyone watching. You have such a command of the patterns all over the fretboard that you almost get to step back and watch yourself play – it's an incredible experience because
your fingers just know where to go.

—  Level 4  —

As you can imagine, few guitarists make it here.

It's the elite… and it never ends.

This is where your palette HAS to expand beyond blues sounds and incorporates some jazz ideas and very high level approaches.

Things like using a half/whole diminished over the last bar before the transition to the IV chord to get a 7b9 sound like Robben Ford does.

Or using the melodic minor scale a half-step above the root of your V chord to create an altered dominant sound remeniscent of fusion greats like Scofield or Scott Henderson.

Probably 2% of all the guitar players on the planet ever aspire to this level and maybe even fewer actually get there.

So Where Are You?

It's important to think about 2 things:

1) Where you are right now… and
2) Where you want to be in a year

Maybe you are at level 1 – that's great! We all have to start somewhere.

And if that is where you are, Beginning Blues Guitar is the ONLY DVD course I know of that teaches guitar fundamentals just for us blues folks.

Click Here To Learn More About Beginning Blues Guitar

If you are at level 2 or early in level 3, Blues Guitar Unleashed is for you. With all the scales, chords, and rhythms you would need to sit in with just about any blues band anywhere in the world:

Click Here To Learn More About Blues Guitar Unleashed

And if you are late level 1 or a level 2 acoustic player, check out the new Acoustic Blues Guitar Unleashed:

Click Here To Learn More About Acoustic Blues Guitar Unleashed

Finally, if you feel like you have all the level 2 stuff down but you really want to get to the elite levels of mixing the major and minor blues sounds together, check out the Slow Blues Supplement:

Click Here To Learn More About Slow Blues Supplement

Now, if you think you are at level 4… well to be honest I don't have anything for that level at this point (though I love playing in that realm.)

In fact, I don't even know of much that really gets into that stuff much at all except for an older Robben Ford book that I learned some
things from called “Beyond The Blues.” You can find it on Amazon if you're looking for that sort of thing..

The one thing I can't stress enough is that you have to be careful not to try too hard on things that are out of your current area.

If you are still struggling with playing the minor blues sound over a blues, then trying to add a lydian dominant sound is just going to confuse you 10 times worse.

And if you feel like you are limited by the blues scale sound, make sure you really are pushing it to its limit.


In addition to the courses I mentioned above there are some other specific courses I have on Music Theory, The 4 Note Solo, Slide Guitar, and more all on the Course Catalog page at:

Click Here To See All Of The Courses