Blues By The Bar – Review

Author: Chris Hunt
Level: Intermediate to Advanced

This is another blues licks / solos book with a bit of a twist. The content is easy to follow and pretty much jumps straight into simply learning a bunch of licks, but in an organised fashion. All the examples are played over a single chord progression with two common variations and all in the same key.

The idea is to learn a bunch of licks that work over each section of the chord progression. For instance, you get about fifteen licks for bars one and two, ten licks for bars three and four, ten licks for bars five and six, etc..

The licks are designed to flow musically into each section of the chord progression. What this basically does is gives you a variety of licks that once learned, can be pulled out of your virtual hat and used randomly over each of the twelve bars and should fit well over any I IV V blues progression, but more importantly, flow musically with the chord changes. Of course, you don’t need to (and shouldn’t) play a blues solo in such an ordered manner but what this book does is gives you lots of ideas to work with.

If you are still in the early intermediate stage of guitar playing then this idea can be used to give you a good leg up to play a fair variety of very passable blues solos, even if you aren’t quite ready to experiment and mix them in with your own ideas. There’s also the added benefit that these kind of exercises work well towards training your ear. Do this stuff enough and your solos will flow well over chord changes no matter what scales or licks you are using as new habits are formed.

I like the concept of this book, and while you could argue this is slightly gimmicky, it doesn’t make it any less of a useful guitar book. The licks are all real world and very usable. Each lick is included with Tab and notation. At the end of the book you are given the full chord progressions with two variations and in three keys.

The CD includes all the example licks for you to hear what they sound like and the solo part can be panned out one side of the stereo field. The last few tracks contain two examples of full solos using the licks from the examples to give you an idea of how they can be pieced together. You also get the backing tracks minus the guitar part for three different keys for you to practice with. The solo examples aren’t Tabbed in the book but the licks used are displayed under each chord so it’s pretty much the same thing, you just have to flick back and forth between a few pages if you want to follow the solo example exactly as played. The backing tracks are quite basic but good enough to keep you inspired if you are going to spend quite a few hours practicing with them.

All in all, I’m happy with this book and I think it’s one worth having in anyone’s blues learning / practicing arsenal.


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