An Approach To Playing Chicago Blues

For this article a few tips what you can do to improve your guitarplaying in the style of Chicago blues. The term Chicago blues stands for electric blues in the style of Buddy Guy, Freddie King and a host of other guitar players including the guitar players who were influenced by these guitarists such as Eric Clapton, Peter Green and Mick Taylor.


Anyone who wants to get into a certain style of playing should listen a lot of music which is based on that particular style of guitar playing. Within the Chicago style there is a lot of variation, one thing the style does have in common is it does use a lot of guitar improvisation such as guitar solos. Possibly one of the reasons why many guitarists were drawn to this style in the first place? Listen to the big names first such as Albert, Freddie and BB King, Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters and listen then to more obscure names. Get a feel for how they play and what kind of approach they use for their bands to get the sounds they want.

          Pentatonic Scales:

Learn one pentatonic scale in one key. See if you can learn all five positions, three if five is too much. Stick to this one key. Learn to understand how the scale works, and how you can transpose the scale into any other key. Listen to the songs you like and find out how the scale fits in. Do not listen only to the guitar!!! Listen to the chords of the keyboards and the horns. See if you can hear how the song works, this will help you with understanding the song and how its sounds works against the guitar.

        Theme and Playing:

Take one song you like. Look for songs with a strong theme such as “The Hide Away” the songs contains several themes which vary in rhythm. Try to play one of them. If you cannot get all the notes try to get them as close as you can,. Once you can play one theme, try making variations on the theme by improvising with the notes and the rhythm. Once you can play this in one position move around to other positions you know and do the same.

Once you get used to this kind of playing why not set up your own theme and vary them in a similar way. Listen to a lot of blues to see where the variations come from and what you can do for yourself to make it sound like that.
Also listen to some Rock songs you like and try to see the connection between the blues and some more moderns styles of Rock.

        Acoustic Blues:

Once you get a feel for the electric sounds of the Chicago style, why not check out some older forms of acoustic blues such as Robert Johnson. Again, try to see how this style influenced more modern styles of guitar playing.

Have fun and hope to see you soon again,