Advanced Blues Guitar


Authored by Michael Williams


Course Code: OGUIT-352

Next semester starts September 23

12 Weeks

Level 3

Level 3

3-Credit Tuition


Non-Credit Tuition


Take your rhythm playing and soloing techniques to the next level by studying the signature phrases and techniques performed by many of the greatest guitarists in electric blues. With legends such as Albert Collins, Albert King, B.B. King, Otis Rush, Magic Sam, Robert Cray, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Robben Ford as your guides, you will learn how to play rhythm guitar parts and solos over a variety of blues progressions, grooves, and tempos, in styles such as shuffles, funky blues, blues/rumbas, blues/rock, soul, and slow blues—and you will perform with tracks recorded by a world-class blues rhythm section. You will also develop a greater understanding of the historical lineage passed along from one generation to another, from the earlier blues players to the contemporary artists of today.

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By the end of this course, you will be able to:

  • Analyze and play rhythm guitar parts and solos over a variety of blues progressions, grooves, and tempos
    perform signature phrases and techniques by great guitarists such as Albert Collins, Albert King, BB King, Otis Rush, Magic Sam, Robert Cray, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Robben Ford
  • Play "in the pocket" rhythm parts, with a series of rhythm guitar exercises designed to make you more versatile in your playing
  • Combine notes/phrases based on the blues and major pentatonic scales up and down along the neck, to develop your own voice on the instrument
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Overview Syllabus Requirements Instructors
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Lesson 1: Albert Collins Style and Influences

  • Albert Collins’ “Frosty”
  • Funky Blues in D—“Funky Albert”
  • Playing the Pocket—Funky Eighth–Note Feel
  • Soloing in the Albert Collins Style

Lesson 2: Albert King‘s Style and Influences

  • Albert King’s Style and Influences
  • Albert King’s Tuning and Playing Style
  • Albert King’s Soloing Techniques on “Crosscut Saw”
  • “Crosscut Saw”—Rhythm Part
  • Blues Rumbas
  • Albert King’s Solo on “Crosscut Saw”
  • ”Oh, Pretty Woman”—Rhythm Part and Solo
  • King’s Signature Phrases on ”Oh, Pretty Woman”

Lesson 3: BB King’s Style and Influences

  •  BB King’s Solo from “The Woman I Love”
  •  BB King’s Solo from “Every Day I Have The Blues”
  •  BB King’s Solo from “Tired of Your Jive”
  •  Slow Blues in E—BB King Style
  •  Jimmy Vaughan’s “Wait on Time”

Lesson 4: Robert Cray’s Rhythm and Soloing Techniques

  •  Robert Cray’s Style and Influences
  •  Robert Cray’s Rhythm Guitar Techniques—“The Last Time (I Get Burned Like This)”
  •  Robert Cray’s Solo on “The Last Time (I Get Burned Like This)”
  •  Robert Cray’s Rhythm Guitar Techniques on “Labor of Love”
  •  Robert Cray’s Solo on “Labor of Love”
  •  B.B. King’s Solo from “Tired of You Jive”

Lesson 5: Stevie Ray Vaughan: Rhythm Guitar and Soloing Techniques

  • “Pride and Joy”
  • “Little Sister,” and More Rhythm Variations for the “March in E”
  • ”Love Struck”—Stevie Ray Vaughan’s blues/rock classic
  • “Scuttlebuttin’”

Lesson 6: Fast Shuffle Style

  • Like a Rocket” Choruses
  •  “Like a Rocket” Solo Choruses
  •  “Wait on Time” Chorus 2 and 3 Rhythm and Solo Parts
  •  Freddy King’s Slow Blues Style: “The Sad Night Owl“

Lesson 7: Freddy King's Shuffle Style, and B.B. King's Rumba and Slow Blues Styles

  •  Freddy King's Classic Shuffle in E: “Hideaway”
  •  B.B. King's "Calypso Jazz"
  •  Rumba Blues: History/background of the Clave Rhythm and Rumba Blues Style
  •  B.B. King’s Slow Blues Style: “Worry, Worry, Worry“

Lesson 8: Blues from Chicago’s West Side: Magic Sam, Otis Rush, and Freddy King

  •  Magic Sam’s Shuffle in A, “I Need You So Bad”
  •  Magic Sam’s Solo over “All Your Love”
  •  Magic Sam’s High–Powered (Up-Tempo) Boogie “Looking Good”
  •  Otis Rush’s Deep Blues Phrasing On “I Wonder Why”
  •  Otis Rush’s Call/Response On “Little Red Rooster”

Lesson 9: Classic Stylists: T-Bone Walker, Robert Lockwood, Jr., and Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown

  •  Strollin’ With Bone
  •  “Jumpin’ Bones:” Techniques for Adapting and Reusing T-Bone’s Phrases and Influences 
  •  Robert Lockwood, “Shuffle in A–Sonny Boy Williamson Style”
  •  Robert Lockwood’s “Walking Tenth Bass Patterns on “Takin’ A Stroll”
  •  Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown’s “Okie Dokie Stomp”
  •  Variations on a Rhythm Part, and Soloing Techniques: “Slow Blues in E”

Lesson 10: Robben Ford’s Soloing Style, and More Blues From Robert Cray

  •  Robben Ford’s Soloing Techniques from “Help the Poor”
  •  Robben Ford’s Phrasing and Soloing Techniques on “Trick Bag”
  •  More Techniques From Robert Cray, “The One In The Middle”
  •  Rhythm Parts and Solos In the Soul/Blues Style: “I Stand Accused”
  •  Playing The Pocket– James Brown’s “Give It Up Or Turn It Loose”

Lesson 11: More Techniques from Stevie Ray Vaughan and Albert King

  •  Stevie Ray Vaughan’s Solo Over “Pride and Joy”
  •  Stevie Ray Vaughan’s Rhythm Part to “Little Sister”
  •  “Riviera Paradise”– Stevie Ray Vaughan’s Rhythm and Soloing Techniques
  •  Albert King’s Phrasing on “I’ll Play The Blues For You”

Lesson 12: Gary Clark Jr., John Mayer, and Other Contemporary Players

  •  Gary Clark Jr., “When My Train Pulls In”
  •  Gary Clark Jr., “Bright Lights”
  •  A Comparison of Styles–Gary Clark Jr. and John Mayer’s Phrasing and Influences from “Born Under A Bad Sign”
  •  Other Outstanding Blues Guitarists Of Today
  •  Billy Butler’s “Big Boy”


Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements 

Prerequisite Courses, Knowledge, and/or Skills
Completion of Blues Guitar or equivalent knowledge and experience is required.


  • No textbooks required


  • Students are required to record video while performing with a backing track for their assignments. Options for recording video include:
    • Smartphone
    • Digital camera
    • Webcam (using either video recording software, or the video recording tool that is built into the learning environment)



  • Electric or acoustic guitar


  • Students are required to capture their instrumental performance, as well as monitor audio output. Options include:
    • Input (one required):
      • Instrument connected directly to audio interface (recommended electric option; alternatively, the microphone options below can be used with amplified instruments)
      • XLR microphone and audio interface (recommended acoustic option)
      • USB microphone
      • Built-in computer/mobile device microphone
    • Output (one required):
      • Headphones (recommended option; required if multitracking and/or input monitoring a microphone)
      • Studio monitors and audio interface
      • Built-in or external speakers
  • Note: Depending on your setup, you may also need XLR/instrument cables and a microphone stand.
  • Recommended: Printer, if you would like to print out examples used in the course.

Student Deals
After enrolling, be sure to check out our Student Deals page for various offers on software, hardware, and more. Please contact with any questions.

General Course Requirements

Below are the minimum requirements to access the course environment and participate in Live Classes. Please make sure to also check the Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements section above, and ensure your computer meets or exceeds the minimum system requirements for all software needed for your course. 

Mac Users

PC Users

All Users

  • Latest version of Google Chrome
  • Zoom meeting software
  • Webcam
  • Speakers or headphones
  • External or internal microphone
  • Broadband Internet connection


Michael Williams

Author & Instructor

Michael Williams has been active as a blues and jazz guitarist since 1987, performing extensively throughout the United States and Canada as a member of Grammy award winning James Cotton's blues band, and with many other artists, including David "Fathead" Newman, Mighty Sam McClain, the Bruce Katz Band, Sugar Ray Norcia, Darrell Nulisch, Toni Lynn Washington, Michelle Willson, Jerry Portnoy, the Love Dogs, blues piano virtuoso David Maxwell, and his own band, Michael Williams and Friends. Michael performed on James Cotton's album, 35th Anniversary Jam, which won a W.C. Handy Award and received a Grammy nomination for the Best Traditional Blues Album in 2003. He performed on Bruce Katz's 2004 release, entitled A Deeper Blue, and his playing, songwriting, and arranging are featured on Michelle Willson's album So Emotional, which earned a four-star review in DownBeat magazine. In 1999 he released an album, entitled Late Night Walk (Blue Tempo Records), which features ten original compositions with guest artists David "Fathead" Newman on tenor sax, Sugar Ray Norcia on vocals, and Bruce Katz on Hammond B3 organ and piano.

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Michael is an associate professor in the Guitar department at Berklee College of Music and specializes in teaching a mix of blues and jazz styles. Originally from Northern California, he has written jingles for radio and television, and performed on extended tours throughout Europe with jazz and theater groups. Read Less

What's Next?

When taken for credit, Advanced Blues Guitar can be applied towards the completion of these related programs:


Contact our Academic Advisors by phone at 1-866-BERKLEE (U.S.), 1-617-747-2146 (INT'L), or by email at

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