Last Updated on February 6, 2024 by Teemu Suomala
Guitar tabs are well know but often misunderstood way of learning songs. This is especially true when talking about blues. If you want to discover how to use them correctly and knock off the 11 best blues songs on your bucket list, keep reading…
Author: Teemu Suomala
I first grabbed the guitar in 2009. I started this website in January 2020 because I couldn’t do window installation anymore due to my health problems. I love guitars and have played dozens and dozens of different guitars through different amps and pedals over the years, and also, building a website interested me, so I decided to just go for it! I got lucky and managed to get awesome people to help me with my website.
I also got lucky because I have you visiting my website right now. Thank you. I do all this for you guys. If you have any recommendations, tips, or feedback, just leave a comment, I would love to chat with you. I have also been fortunate to produce content for several large guitar websites, such as Songsterr, Musicnotes, GuitarGuitar, and Ultimate Guitar.
I spend my spare time exercising and hanging out with my wife and crazy dog (I guess that went the right way…).Hide The Rambling▲
Before you can walk the walk and talk the talk of a blues maestro, you’ve got to start with the basics. And that means getting cozy with using blues guitar tabs to learn a couple of breath-taking blues songs, riffs, or licks. Don’t worry, we’ll have you impressing your wife, dog, and maybe even the neighbors (if they appreciate a good blues riff, if not, they are not good neighbors) in no time.
10 Blues songs Everyone should learn using tabs
Let’s dive into some classic tunes that’ll make your heart sing and fingers dance. No scams here, just good ol’ bluesy goodness to fuel your progress.
Sweet Home Chicago by Robert Johnson
Grab your guitar and pay homage to the Windy City with “Sweet Home Chicago” by Robert Johnson. This tune’s as classic as a Chicago-style hot dog, and it’s a must-learn for any blues fan. The song is a fantastic choice for practicing your blues guitar skills and getting a handle on various blues techniques.
As side note, I would have loved to listen to this outdoors in the Mississippi area in 1936 when this was originally released. The best thing to do now is to learn this and honor this masterpiece and the man who wrote it.
|Sweet Home Chicago
|Classic blues progression, great for technique practice
The Thrill is Gone by B.B. King
This is the kind of song that’ll teach you how to pour every ounce of emotion into your guitar solos. You’ll be playing with such feeling; even your neighbors will take a break from their daily hustle to listen in. This blues classic is a brilliant piece for mastering those blues and showing off how your six-string can sing.
|The Thrill is Gone
|Emotional guitar playing, perfect for solo practice
Before You Accuse Me by Eric Clapton
Think of this as the argument you should’ve walked away from. Clapton’s version of this blues classic is a masterclass in keeping it cool and collected, with a steady groove that’s as reliable as your dog waiting to greet you after work. It’s a rhythm-heavy number that teaches you how to keep your cool when the strings – and life – get bent.
Mannish Boy by Muddy Waters
This one’s as straightforward as paying your bills on time. It’s a no-nonsense, powerful riff that’s as infectious as your dog’s excitement when you mention the word ‘walk’. Muddy Waters delivers a raw, thumping track that’s all about strutting with confidence – in life, love, and blues.
Boom Boom by John Lee Hooker
If your life had a soundtrack for walking down the street thinking you’re the boss, this would be it. It’s simple, it’s catchy, and it grooves hard. Just like juggling work, family, and hobbies, “Boom Boom” shows you can keep it simple and still be cool.
Texas Flood by Stevie Ray Vaughan
This is like fixing something in your house without calling a professional – challenging but damn rewarding. Vaughan’s blistering guitar work is a mix of raw power and delicate nuance, kind of like balancing work and family life. It’s a deep dive into Texas blues that’ll test your skills and possibly your patience, but hey, what’s life without a little challenge? The challenge makes you great.
Stormy Monday by T-Bone Walker (popularized by Allman Brothers)
This song is like Monday mornings – a bit slow to start but full of emotion. T-Bone Walker laid down a classic here, and the Allman Brothers took it to another level. It’s all about feeling your way through those bends and vibratos, like coaxing your old lawnmower to start. This is the perfect song if you either want to learn rhythm or improve over rhythm.
Crosscut Saw by Albert King
Imagine the solo of this song as the DIY project that actually turned out well. Albert King delivers a straight, no-frills groove that’s as satisfying as nailing that shelf on the first try. It’s a lesson in playing with precision and swagger – and let’s be honest, who doesn’t want a bit of swagger when wielding a guitar or a power tool?
Sweet Little Angel by B.B. King (solo)
This track is like that perfect date night you planned. B.B. King’s rendition is smooth, sophisticated, and hits all the right notes. Learning this song is about finding the sweet spot in your playing, just like finding the sweet spot in life (and dates).
La Grange” by ZZ Top
This song is like that old, reliable pickup truck – it may not be fancy, but it’s got character and it gets the job done. With its gritty riff and steady rhythm, it’s a lesson in keeping things simple yet effective. Just like the best things in life – a cold beer, a good joke, and a loyal dog – sometimes the simple stuff is the most satisfying.
The Sky Is Crying by Elmore James (also covered by Stevie Ray Vaughan)
Consider this song as the blues equivalent of a warm summer day with a sunset and you driving a rural road with your old trusty automobile. Elmore James’ raw, emotive slide guitar work is as real as it gets, while SRV’s version adds a layer of virtuosity. One of my favorite blues songs of all time.
So there you have it, your bluesy roadmap to mastering blues. If you want easy songs to learn, in fact so easy that even a beginner could learn them, check this article 27 Greatest Easy Blues Songs.
But I also talked about leveraging the blues tabs the right way, combined with Einstein-smart-level learning secrets. So keep reading…
Choosing the Right Songs
You’re not just an average guitar hobbyist. So, when choosing your blues battles, start with the right songs. If you’re a beginner, you should befriend the easier songs first (27 Greatest Easy Blues Songs).
And it’s extremely useful to choose the songs you like the most to learn first. But in this lies a killer-shark level danger…
Do not just learn a couple of easy songs and then neglect the harder stuff. If you do so, it’s likely you never get really good at playing guitar.
I recommend you always have 1 harder song that you are honing in the backburner
So start with easy songs. Then continue learning easy songs while at the same time, you are learning something that really challenges you.
Now, let’s talk tablature, or “tab” for short—because who’s got time for extra syllables? This notation is a no-nonsense way to read music for the guitar. Think of it as a map that shows you exactly where to place your fingers on the fretboard. No need to decode standard notation or learn another language. Tabs are like GPS for your guitar journey. No need to read a physical map anymore.
Here’s a crash course:
e|-----------------| The high E string, the thinnest one
B|-----------------| Second string
G|-----------------| Third string
D|-----------------| Fourth string
A|-----------------| Fifth string
E|-----------------| The low E string, the one that brings the bass
Each line represents a string on your guitar, and the numbers tell you which fret to press down. Simple, right? For a deeper dive into the world of tabs, check out this guide on tablatures.
But like any tool, tabs should be used correctly and with caution. I personally wasted years not using them the right way.
Be smarter and learn blues faster than me by avoiding these tips:
- Ignoring Rhythm and Timing: Tabs usually don’t provide any information about the rhythm or timing of the notes. It’s like trying to tell a joke without the right timing – the punchline just doesn’t land. Listen to the original track to understand the rhythm and feel of the song.
- Overlooking Techniques and Articulations: Tabs often fail to convey nuances like hammer-ons, pull-offs, slides, and bends accurately. It’s the difference between making your famous chili with or without your secret spice blend – the basics are there, but the magic is missing.
- Not Developing Ear Training: Relying solely on tabs is like using GPS for every drive and never really learning the route. Train your ear by trying to pick up parts of the song without looking at the tab. It’s a bit more work, but it pays off in the long run.
- Blindly Trusting the Tab: Not all tabs are created equal. Some are the gourmet recipes of the guitar world, while others are more like a half-baked microwave meal. Always cross-reference different tabs and, if possible, watch videos or listen to recordings for accuracy.
- Skipping the Basics: Don’t just only learn from tabs. Learn the basics of the genre you are about the master as well.
- Not Practicing Slowly: Trying to play at full speed right away is a common mistake. It’s like trying to sprint before you can even walk. Start slow, get the notes right, then gradually increase the speed.
Practice Tips for Blues
Keep your axe close, because after checking these practice tips, nothing can stop you from stopping your next practice session.
Structured Practice Sessions
Most of us have some disposable income, but throwing money at a wall and subscribing to 5 guitar programs and also hiring a teacher can mess everything up. Do you know what you need?
What was the #1 thing separating fast learners from slow ones, that I discovered after reading dozens of book about learning fast?
Structured plan that enables you to learn the small amount of stuff that makes most of the difference. The 20% that creates 80% of the results.
With blues, this 20% consists of:
- Mastering emotion
- Mastering key blues chords (there are only 3 key ones)
- Mastering 12 Bar Blues chord progressions
- Getting comfortable with Blues Minor and Major Pentatonic scales
That’s it. If you learn this, you are ahead of 99% of the blues learners.
And this plan should also be used wisely. Structure your structured plan.
Set up a schedule that’s as consistent as your dogs meal time cravings. Maybe you’ve got 30 minutes after work, or an hour once the dog’s been walked. Here’s a little table to get you started:
|Blues Guitar Scales
|Blues Chords Mastery
|Jamming to Backing Tracks
|Licks and Riffs
Of course, you should practice every day. This table was just a quick example.
Remember, the key is quality over quantity. Better to nail something than to noodle aimlessly.
Dude. That’s it. But 1 thing before you go. You are ahead of others and on your way to people saying “wow, this guy has surely played for decades” only if you do 1 thing…
How transform into a Party Jukebox everyone Admires in 5 days?
So use this info. Play the blues. And once in a while come to GND to have a good time and learn more.
I wish you all the best and hopefully we get a chance to hang out again soon.