1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

Blues Technique?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Skullking, Feb 14, 2014.

  1. Skullking


    Jan 14, 2014
    Hello i'm a new guy and I honestly have to say i'm mostly interested in learning to play more blues style music. But is there any thing specific I should be looking at? Thank you.
  2. BassChuck


    Nov 15, 2005
    Willie Dixon. Duck Dunn.
  3. Jefff


    Aug 14, 2013
    Jack Meyers.
  4. thorper


    Jul 11, 2011
    Doesn't really need fancy technique. Try to make your notes big and fat. Pluck up closer to the neck. Turn down the tone knob of your bass.
  5. tommy Shannon explains some techniques
  6. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    Not so much "looking" as "listening"....to as much blues as you can. ;)

    Some of the names given so far are great blues bassists. Artists/bands to listen to would be Freddy/Albert/BB King, early Fleetwood Mac (IMO John McVie is a very under rated bassist), Buddy Guy, Johnny Winter and John Mayall's Bluesbreakers. All these artists employed the best bassists.

    A great book on blues bass is this one by Ed Friedland. Well worth investing in IMO. :

  7. bswag

    bswag Guest

    Dec 21, 2013
    As above; get anything you can find by Muddy Waters, Sonny Boy Williamson II, Junior Wells, Howlin' Wolf, Little Walter, "Harmonica" George Smith, Big Walter Horton, all the Kings- BB, Freddy, Albert- and so on. That'll give you and your ears a good foundation, I'd think.
  8. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny

    Nov 20, 2000
    Vancouver, BC
    Johnny B. Gayden is one of the great blues bassists.
  9. How new are you? Do you know the blues scale....how to play Mixolydian....basically a major scale with a flat 7? Not ALL blues is based on this scale...but a lot of it is!!!
  10. 2saddleslab

    2saddleslab Supporting Member

    May 30, 2003
    Explore the different vibes from west coast swing, Texas & Chicago shuffles , to Louisiana and Memphis grooves.
    Then listen to recordings of Keith Ferguson, founding member of The Fabulous Thunderbirds.
  11. Jay2U

    Jay2U Not as bad as he lóòks

    Dec 7, 2010
    22 ft below sea level
  12. radioface


    May 2, 2013
    Listen to the way jazz bass players play a blues tune and, that's all you need to know.
  13. Bassisgood4U

    Bassisgood4U Banned

    Jan 30, 2014
    Learn to slide your pic or finger on the string a little before you pluck to the kick drum. It'll make the drummer happy.
  14. Jefff


    Aug 14, 2013
    With the blues, it's all about feel and "the pocket".

    You could probably live with 12 separate notes, in total, and get by if you grooved well enough.
  15. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    Agree 100%. However I think the OP wants to get the "nuts and bolts" of the music first. It is hard to play with feel and groove if you are not familiar with the music and it's character.
  16. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Supporting Member

    100% of western music lives with only 12 separate notes. Just sayin'. :D
  17. Most of blues basslines are made up of four note phrases that can be nailed together in a variety of ways; the more of these you get under your belt, the more expressive & varied your lines become.

    The 'total immersion' option is a good way to go, but beware that on a lot of the early Delta Blues recordings, the 12-bar format may not apply. By the time of the Chicago-era Chess stuff — Muddy Waters, Elmore James, Howlin' Wolf etc. the genre had become a lot more regimented, but you might struggle to hear the bass on these as it's usually an upright, so it might be easier to work backwards... try these four albums:

    John Mayall - 'Bluesbreakers' and 'A Hard Road'
    Fabulous Thunderbirds - 'Girls Go Wild' and 'What's The Word'

    Plenty in there to get going with, then work back into the Chess stuff.

    Found this sample course on YouTube:

    7 videos in total that IMO give a pretty good grounding. There are links to the full-on pay-to-view course, rates don't seem too bad as I doubt it'd take too long to run through the Blues course.

  18. J Schroder

    J Schroder

    Feb 24, 2008
    St Paul MN
    +1 There are a lot of different styles of blues. There's no one-size-fits-all. Start with a style you like and/or are being asked to play, and seek out examples of that. YouTube is a great resource. Trio modern Strat-And-A-Hat blues? Listen to Tommy Shannon. Classic Chicago? Willie Dixon, Jack Myers or Dave Meyers. North Mississippi "hill" blues? Check out any of the major Fat Possum bands. And so on. Feel and pocket are always the key, but the pocket will be slightly different, depending on the style. Good luck and great choice of music to play!

  19. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    If you dig Hot Tuna's approach to blues, get yourself a copy of Jack Casady's instructional DVD: "The Bass Guitar of Jack Casady." He and Jorma play short versions of a half-dozen tunes, and after each Jack discusses and demonstrates what he was doing (and why) at various points in the tune. My favorite instructional video by far! I've watched it countless times and still learn new things every time. He explains things very clearly, and with a sometimes-hilarious dry wit that makes it very entertaining as well.

    Here's a little sampler of short clips from the DVD that someone put together on youtube:

    (The video quality of the DVD is much better than this, of course.)
  20. Jhengsman


    Oct 17, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    I don't know the band but I do remember homespun tapes from my time starting on guitar and even if you don't know the music/musicians involved every video from them I have seen was well worth it. guess i'll put in my Keb Mo guitar instructional and improvise on top of it until the DVD is delivered. I haven't checked their site but I know they were downloading at a discount price a few years ago, I just prefer the disc being an old guy;).