Here is a blues guitar practice routine that will be both challenging and enjoyable with a goal to make you a more versatile guitarist. While many people assume that blues is a limited genre anyone who plays it knows the possibilities are endless.
1. Finger Exercises
Chances are you have been doing finger exercises since you picked up the guitar. If so, that’s good. Don’t stop. If not, start today.
The benefit of finger exercises include loosening your finger muscles up, practicing your rhythm and playing notes together that you may not normally play. When was the last time you played e, f, f#, and g?
Mix up your finger exercises. Let’s take your basic 1-2-3-4 on every string. One alternative would be to move up a fret every new string. Another alternative would be skip a string: E to D, A to G.
2. Pick a New Key Everyday
Guitarists have preferred keys, usually E, A, D and G. There may come a time when a singer or keyboardist prefers a different key. A good guitarist should master all 12 keys.
3. Scale Practice
After you pick your key of day, run through your scales in that key. Sure, you may only use the blues scale or minor pentatonic but play it in different positions. Go up one position and down another. Also, try playing your scales with a groove. Yes, practice can have a groove!
4. Find the Chords a Few Times
How many ways can you play an Eb major chord on the guitar? I don’t know the answer but I bet it is in the triple digits. Take your 12 bar blues progression and play the chords in a different position every twelve bars. Give all of those frets some love.
While you are playing your chords at different positions, add a few licks in as well. You will see that the different areas of the guitar neck give way to new licks.
5. Mix in Some Arpeggios with Your Soloing
If you ever tried to play jazz, you know the importance of arpeggios. What are arpeggios? Simply the notes of the chord.
Take an A major chord, a, c# and e. Try finding that combination three times on your fretboard and play around. Add some pentatonic notes as well. You will find your solos will become more melodic and have a bit of a jump blues sound. It doesn’t work for all blues tunes but it is a great tool.
6. Play Along
Whether you are sitting next to a CD player or listening to Spotify on your iPhone, pick an album and play along. This will be good ear training as well as hearing other musicians approach to playing.
Technically this is not practicing but it is equally important. Rotate the music you listen to, not only bands but genres and time frame. I often get hooked on a song and try to find every ‘cover’ version out there. It is great to hear different interpretations.
This routine can be a great benefit but it has to be – a routine! Sure it can change but try to get in that habit of playing regularly. It’s not just a good idea for your guitar skills but your mental health as well!
Keep on picking!