These 6 free guitar lessons are from Jeff Mcerlain’s Blues Guitar Survival Guide – Lead, essential techniques & insight for blues lead guitar. Jeff’s Lead Guitar edition of the Blues Guitar Survival Guide distills a massive range of blues-centric leads guitar techniques, stylings, harmonic knowledge and creative approaches into a hands-on, accelerated and highly intuitive curriculum. No tedious theory, no boring exercises — you will play your way through the course exploring and learning essential concepts and then immediately applying them in a musical context.

Blues Guitar Survival Guide #18: Tweaking the 3rd

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One of the best tips I can pass along that will almost instantly make you sound better is learning how to tweak the third of the scale. In a blues we are very often playing over a dom7 chord which contains a natural 3rd. The minor pentatonic scale contains a flat 3rd. This is a potential problem as those two notes are a 1/2 step apart and can really be unpleasant. To remedy this we can bend the flat 3rd to either the natural 3rd or the ever cool quarter step bend. Getting control over this bend it essential to playing guitar, not just blues. Like everything, we need to consciously practice this. There are so many subtle ways to play it and they can all sound different. I find it endlessly fascinating

Blues Guitar Survival Guide #21: Albert King Style Bends

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Albert King is certainly one of the most influential blues guitar players of all time. One of the most interesting aspects of his playing was his bending. Guitar players have been killing themselves for years to cop his sound, I am one of them! Here is an often overlooked fact as to why his bends are so difficult to most players, he played lefty and left to strings on righty. So his high E string was closest to the ceiling. So when he bent that high E a major 3rd he was pulling DOWNWARDS where we have much more strength. He also wasn’t pulling his nail away from his finger so he avoided that painful side effect that us normal strung players suffer through. My saving grace, Crazy Glue. I keep a bottle in my gig bag. It was initially invented in WWI to help patch wounds. So if I cut my finger or pull the nail away, a little dab will do ya! BTW make sure not to glue your fingers together…. I have done this more than once.

Blues Guitar Survival Guide #42: Straight Rock Blues

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I love a straight rock feel. Many bands from the Stones, to Zep, to Bad Co. to The Black Crows, have used this feel in some of the most classic blues influenced rock tunes ever. The focal point is the straight eighth note as opposed to the swing eighth note so commonly heard in the blues. I chose G because of some of the cool usages of the open strings as both a lead and rhythm player that we can take advantage of. The main concepts here are bends, double stops, chord tones, vibrato, and tweaking the third and seventh. So there is a lot going on in what sounds like a fairly basic blues rock solo!

Blues Guitar Survival Guide #43: Straight Rock Blues – Breakdown

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There is a lot going on here so take it slowly. The main take home is the bend aspect, I am using a lot of half step bends to articulate the chord tones. I really love these because we can get a great bluesy sound by working on the notes in between. Very often in the blues we will stay a little shy of the natural 3rd when bending up to it. Why? Well it sounds bluesier, it’s that rub the bend creates that gives the note the soul we are looking for. If we fret the natural 3rd, it will sound great but bright. So it becomes a matter of choice, so if your choice is bluesy use the bend.

Blues Guitar Survival Guide #45: Rumba Blues

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One of the keys to soloing smoothly and mixing scales is to learn the notes we want to use in the same position on the neck. As you run through this study you can see that I am changing from D major to D minor pentatonic in the same position on the neck. I am not jumping around, when I see guys do that it tells me that they don’t know the guitar neck all that well and their playing can sound disjointed. I do this with everything I play over, I will run over my positions for each scale for each chord so there are no surprises. I may make a mistake but it’s not because I didn’t know what note I wanted, I just simply messed up, which happens all the time!

Blues Guitar Survival Guide #48: Classic Texas Blues

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I am going for a classic Texas blues sound here in style of SRV and Albert King and as you can see I am really sticking to very few notes. I am trying to get the most out of the little box position I am in which is the upper 3 strings of what I call fingering number 2 of the minor pentatonic scale. This is all Albert King. It sounds a lot like SRV’s version of Texas Flood which sounds a lot like Albert King’s Blues Power. I am a huge fan of Stevie’s and he was a gateway to the blues for me along with Zeppelin, but when I first heard Albert it was clear who influenced Stevie. It is always humbling to listen to someone like Albert King, the clarity and pure emotion that comes through in his playing is undeniable. As a player this is what I am striving for all the time.

Dig these blues guitar survival guide lessons? Download Jeff McErlain’s Blues Guitar Survival Guide – Lead for much more including tab, notation, and jam tracks!