Play blues guitar like Buddy Guy

23rd May 2008 | 16:10

Play blues guitar like Buddy Guy
Play blues like Buddy: Fender signature polka dot Strat optional…
Play blues guitar like Buddy Guy
With a swung feel and plenty of triplets, this example features plenty of fiery vibrato and classic quarter-tone bends. These are where the key to authenticity lies, perhaps even more than the choice of notes.
Play blues guitar like Buddy Guy
Contrast is the name of the game here. Like Buddy's distinctive singing style, phrases swoop and then stutter, taking unexpected turns like the flurry at the end of this example. Like all the other phrases, this is taken from the A blues scale, but not consciously. Buddy plays by ear only!
Play blues guitar like Buddy Guy
Moving to some mid-solo type phrasing, this example features triplets, staccato hits, quarter-tone bends and quick-fire bursts. In the early 1960s this was unheard of, especially while running around in the audience.
Play blues guitar like Buddy Guy
Shifting up another gear, you can hear how this kind of phrasing must have influenced a young Jimi Hendrix. Though this is pretty racy stuff, make sure your timing is together or you won't be able to jump in and out of the more rhythmic sections convincingly.
Play blues guitar like Buddy Guy
By this time you'll be realizing that Buddy could create a mesmerising solo with hardly any position changes. The rhythm of the phrasing is paramount. Work through slowly at first, then give yourself a free rein to vary the rhythm, without getting tempted to do runs up and down the fretboard.
Play blues guitar like Buddy Guy
Like Example 5, this phrase is designed to wind up a solo. Letting rip with some flashy pentatonic runs to start, it shifts to a slower triplet feel to lead back into the vocal, or perhaps another 12 bars

This lesson shows you how to play like legendary bluesman Buddy Guy

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Buddy Guy was born in Louisiana, a southern US state famous for its blues, in 1936. He set about learning the guitar by ear at high school, rejecting conventional music lessons in favour of the raw passion he heard on blues records.

After performing with various bands in the Louisiana town of Baton Rouge in the early 50s, he later moved to Chicago and became part of the house band at Chess Records, and sideman to the likes of Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf.

Influenced by the showmanship and guitar histrionics of Guitar Slim, Buddy became a recording artist in his own right in 1958. However, with a lack of support from his record company - they thought he was simply too loud and distorted for the general public due to his use of anti-social effects such as feedback - he became frustrated. It was only when a new generation of blues guitarists like Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix openly admired and emulated him - achieving great commercial success along the way - that Buddy started to get the recognition he deserved. In fact, Hendrix had reputedly cancelled his own shows to go and watch him!

In spite of this recognition, Buddy's guitar was not heard in public from the late 70s until his comeback in 1991, Damn Right, I've Got The Blues.

If you want to get the Buddy Guy tone you should aim for a sound that is more distorted than your average blues, but still leans toward overdrive rather than full-on distortion.

You can learn the licks from the video lesson by following our free tab.

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