Blues Guitar

Author: Michael Williams | Course Code: OGUIT-222

Guitarists who know the blues have a natural advantage over those that don't. No matter what style they chose to play – jazz, rock, classical – having a blues background provides guitarists with a foundation in form, control, feel and harmonies that can be used to advance their playing in any genre of music. Blues Guitar Workshop begins by teaching the 12-bar blues harmony, basic rhythm guitar technique, and the pentatonic and blues scale in the open position up the neck. You'll learn to incorporate some of the nuances of the masters into your playing - from doubling the bass over a shuffle in the style of Buddy Guy, to combining major and minor pentatonic scales in the style of B.B. King and T-Bone Walker. Through call and response exercises and playing in other grooves and tempos, you'll learn to pace your solos to create tension and release – a technique mastered by all the greatest guitarists. You'll learn to reuse the concepts and musical elements to expand your musical foundation and enhance your ability, whether you're trying to bring a blues sound to your playing or adding more depth and feel to any other style.

In this course you will:

Learn to play several styles of rhythm guitar, and solo over 8 and 12-bar progressions in E, G, and other keys, with varying tempos and grooves, including shuffles, straight eighth, and slow blues.Play pentatonic and blues scales in 5 positions up the neck, and use those fingerings while soloing.Play turnarounds, and use solo pacing and call and response techniques.Play examples and progressions from several styles of blues, including Chicago blues, gospel blues, jazz blues, and minor blues.Learn the techniques and licks of classic stylists, such as T-Bone Walker, Muddy Waters, Lightning Hopkins, B.B. King, Earl Hooker, and Magic Sam, whether you're trying to bring a blues sound to your playing, or interested in adding more depth to your own style.Learn basic finger style and slide techniques.

Lesson 1: Playing the Blues in E

Why Play the Blues?Typical Blues Song FormsRhythm Guitar in Blues March in EE Minor Pentatonic and Blues Scales Open Position

Lesson 2: Blues in E—Varying the Feel, Minor Pentatonic Scales, and 8-Bar Blues

Varying the FeelE Minor Pentatonic Scales, Six Positions8-Bar Blues ProgressionsMarch in A

Lesson 3: Slow Blues with Sliding 9th Chords, Pentatonic Scales Part 2, and String Bends

Barre Chords and Low-End Rhythm PartsRhythm HitsSlow Blues in G—Sliding 9thsShuffle in G: Low-End and Rhythmic HitsA Minor and C Major Pentatonic Scales—5 PositionsMoveable Scale Fingerings Along the NeckString Bents

Lesson 4: T-Bone Style Blues with Sliding 9th Chords, and Chicago Shuffles

Downtown and Uptown Shuffles with Sliding 9th ChordsT-Bone Style Slow Blues with Sliding 9th ChordsA Major and A Minor Pentatonic Scales—5 Positions"Country Girl"—Buddy Guy/Jr. Wells Style, with Sliding 9th Variations

Lesson 5: Flat Tire/Jump Chords and Feel, with T-Bone Walker's Soloing Style and Influences

"Papa Ain't Salty," T-Bone Intro ChorusLocking In with the Backbeat and MetronomeLocking In with the BassRhythm Guitar—"Flat Tire"/Jump Chords and FeelT-Bone's Influences on BB King, Clarence Holliman, and Others

Lesson 6: Minor Blues, Rhythm Guitar Variations, and Call Response Techniques

Minor Blues Progressions and "Thrillin'" Rhythm PartCall/Response Techniques and B.B. King's Vocal Style PhrasingA Blues Scales—5 PositionsA Blues Scales—Shifting between PositionsB.B. King Intro Chorus—"The Woman I Love"

Lesson 7: Playing in the Pocket, and Magic Sam Style Blues

Magic Sam's Intro Chorus to "Sweet Home Chicago"Playing in the Pocket—Rushing/Dragging/Locking In ExerciseBlues in G: Rhythmic Hits, Part 2Reinforcing Rhythmic SkillsLearning the Fingerboard

Lesson 8: Basic Slide Techniques and Open Tunings: Elmore James

Basic Slide Techniques: Open G TuningSetting Up Your GuitarChoosing a SlideWhich Finger Do I Use for a Slide?Slide Placement and IntonationElmore James Slide StyleTurnarounds: Robert Lockwood Jr., "Worried Life Blues"C Pentatonic and C Major Scales—5 Positions

Lesson 9: Slide in G Tunning: Son House, Muddy Waters, and John Lee Hooker Styles

More Slides Techniques: Open G TunningSon House Style: "Death Letter Blues"Playing Melodies Along the StringsMuddy Waters Style, "Rollin and Tumblin"B Flat Blues: Walking Bass and Comping

Lesson 10: Blues Rock and Gospel Blues

"San-Ho-Zay": Rhythm Part and Solo, as Played by Freddy KingGospel Blues ProgressionsScales and Gospel BluesSame Old Blues: Gospel BluesRhythm Guitar Shuffle in F

Lesson 11: Jazz Blues: Kenny Burrell, Comping Range, and Rhythm Guitar Along the Neck

"Chitlins con Carne: "Kenny Burrell Solo"Don't Loose Your Cool"Comping Range: Rhythm Chords in Four Regions of the NeckEar Training and Practice TechniquesLearning Solos from Other Instruments

Lesson 12: More Jazz Blues

Jazz Blues: Grant GreenGuide Tones"Freddy Freeloader"Improvising Over Dominant 7th Chords: "Danny Downloader"Myxolydian ModeMinor 7th Substitutions on Dominant 7th Chords

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.

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.

Guitarists should have at least one year of playing experience and the ability to play some chords on the guitar. Guitar tablature and chord blocks, in addition to traditional notation, will be used throughout the course.

PC Web Browser: Firefox (Recommended), Chrome, Internet Explorer 10 or higherMac Web Browser: Firefox (Recommended), Chrome, SafariFlash Player: current versionQuickTime: current versionAdobe Reader: current versionA basic audio recording tool that will allow you to record yourself playing along with a background track and save the recording in MP3 format. You will have a tool to use for this purpose inside the learning environment. Alternatively, you can use software like Audacity or GarageBand.
Windows Vista SP2 or higherIntel Pentium or higher1 GB RAM500 MB hard drive space recommendedSound card
OS X 10.7 or higherIntel Mac2 GB RAM500 MB hard drive space recommended
For electric and acoustic electric guitars a basic amp chord with a 1/4 to 1/8 adapter for recording directly into the computer.For acoustic guitars with no pickups a microphone with a 1/4 to 1/8 adapter for recording directly into the computer.Speakers or headphones for your computerA built-in microphone or an external microphone plugged directly into your computer (via built in ports or an external audio interface).


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Next Term Starts June 27

  • Level
  • Duration
    12 weeks
  • 3-Credit Tuition
  • or
  • Non-Credit Tuition Add 6 CEUs
    $1,200 + $25

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