I’ve been compared to the incomparable Jeff Beck more than, oh, many times…Guitar Magazine said “the Jeff Beck of the 90’s”, way back in ‘88. While it is true that he is, and has always been, and shall always be, my favorite “rock” guitarist, our backgrounds were dissimilar in many ways (Jeff being a full decade older, obviously had a different path), yet he realized, and I did too, that one needed to feel the pulse of a song, bend notes that made you cry, and use vibrato like it was a secret weapon. Well, blues playing that is real will require exactly this, and more!
However, it is much more than learning your pentatonic minor positions up and down the fretboard. It’s finding what unique qualities each of them has to offer, and adding the requisite “additional notes” to craft harmony in a manner that is totally distinctive; plus, finding what techniques that are naturally favorable to you.
For example, one might be a decent sweep-picking arpeggio player; so, learn your 7th patterns everywhere and build them into your I-IV-V approaches, all the while keeping your basic blues feel, so as not to sound like you “just got out of your guitar lesson.” Same thing for you hybrid-picking country players (again, this is me, too), there are such great phrases for blues that involve your fingers…learn how to use them!
All of my students go through, what I call, “progressive blues guitar”; because, it is essential. I know, I’ve been there, and done it. Opening for Whitesnake back in the early 90’s in Germany, I found myself hanging out with drummer Tommy Aldridge and guitarist Adrian Vandenberg quite a lot, as we shared similar food tastes and humor. After seeing me play for the first time, Tommy said, and Adrian echoed, “you’re a great f*cking blues player!” Well the odd thing was I played NO blues tunes in my set. However, their intention was all about feel, phrasing, bending and space; and, I apparently did just that. Yes, I was extremely flattered, to say the least.
Study guitar, and study blues on a higher level; you will absolutely be thrilled, and will impress, this I guarantee!