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How to play Blues Guitar I : Stefan Grossman

This guitar lesson is an acoustic blues finger style steel string guitar one which begins in the key of C and introduces the concept of the alternating bass line. Still it doesn't, in my opinion, teach you the finger picking pattern skills that you need to know already and I hate that! That's why I made this site so budding guitar players of whatever style know what they are getting for their money.

Look at the DVD cover title! Does it say anything about finger picking? No its says Blues Guitar. When I say he doesn't teach the skills to you what I really I mean is that he merely shows them to you or performs them for you instead. There is a huge difference between teaching and performing.

Where are the fingerpicking exercises? Why cant we flat pick? or Hybrid pick? Stefan uses his bare fingers. Others go to great lengths to protect their fingers and fingernails. Plastic glue ons, thumb picks, finger picks, hybrid picking, growing your own nails and so on. Steel strings are a whole different animal than nylon. Playing with a pick too. None of this is alluded to.

We can and do try and make the best of it, and be patient. So that's what we have to attempt to do. Stephan explains stuff pretty decently but its worth is questionable if you're unable to do steady thumb and fingerpick. To be fair he knows all this and tries to explain to us that we can use just our thumb and one finger to plays all these tunes and I do like that simplification.

To me Country Blues basically means two things: unamplified and finger style. Which would be fine if there was some exercises to build up a little finger style power first. Basically this is a difficult thing to coordinate. It gives me trouble - the steady thumb alternating between the bass strings and then adding melody notes! Its not rubbing your head and patting your stomach. Its harder. Its what gets you paid if you can perform it.

On the one hand this guitar lesson teaches you pretty well the left hand fretting fingerings but that leaves you high and dry if you cant finger pick. But if you can finger pick to a certain degree then it might be just what you need to improve.  He talks about an audio section which is off the DVD menu under Bonus and where you find the originals of these songs which are early Negro spirituals and seminal blues songs by greats like Ma Rainey, Rev. Gary Davis, Blind Blake, Bessie Smith, and Will Bennett and recorded between 1929 - 1962.

Stefan makes a big deal about explaining the left hand fingerings and just says the right hand may be tough for you and to learn the songs first the way he is teaching them to you. This annoys the effluent out of me. On the other hand there is a real nice .PDF pamphlet that if you had nothing better to do you could try to learn from. Why buy a DVD then? There are far better learn to guitar finger pick DVDs I tell you about right here on this site and books too!

Now Stefan Grossman is an old name in the community but enough is enough. Like I said the left hand teaching is adequate but the right hand is not! So know your own strengths and decide perhaps to start finger picking in a less challenging setting. This may turn you off otherwise. Only you can judge. Some people take to it easier than others. For rank beginners I recommend this finger style guitar picking DVD in its place. Now I go on to review DVD II of this three part finger picking blues guitar series.

    Menu How to play Fingerpicking Blues Guitar I: Stefan Grossman
  • Ch 1: Opening Credits
  • Ch 2: Lesson and key of C Intro
  • Ch 3: Railroad Bill, split scene, discussion, variations
  • Ch 4: Careless Love, split scene, discussion, variations
  • Ch 5: I'm Satisfied, split scene, discussion, variations
  • Ch 6: You got the pocketbook I got the key, etc
  • Ch 7: See See Rider, split scene, discussion, variations
  • Ch 7: Save up your money, split scene, discussion, variations
  • Ch 8: Blues in C

Lesson One | Lesson Two | Lesson Three

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