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  • Writer's pictureJay EuDaly

More Blues: Shuffle Technique!

Last week I used the monthly newsletter to announce the launch of Unit 2 of my guitar method, Vertical Truth: Chordal Mechanisms for the Guitar. Unit 2 is on the Blues.

I talked about how the Blues is a seminal genre; it occurs in all forms of popular music. No matter what kind of music you're into, a working knowledge of Blues song-forms and scales will serve you well.

I gave you the Table of Contents as well as a short promo video - here's the promo again; check it out to see how this download looks:

2 days ago I sent you an email with a free preview of the first lesson - The Shuffle. The Shuffle is the foundational rhythmic and chordal mechanism of the Blues. It consists of alternating 5ths and 6ths. To see that lesson, just click on the video below.

I mentioned that students usually have some issues with being able to play a Shuffle consistently and that I have several technique tips that greatly enhance strength and stamina. So here they are:

Optimal Placement:

Because the guitar is a fretted instrument there is a certain latitude for finger placement. However, there needs to be precision for optimal sound and efficiency. Fingers should be placed right behind the fret - as close as possible.

Minimal Force:

When the fingers are placed as close to the fret as possible, very little force is necessary. All that's needed is to push the string down until it touches the fret wire. How much strength does that take? Almost none. The issue is never strength; the issue is fine motor control and efficiency.

Pinky Control:

If your pinky is waving around and having to move a lot to play on beats 2 and 4 your hand will become fatigued very quickly. You must gain control of the pinky and keep it directly over the note it's going to play at all times.


"Staccato" means, "silence between notes." Playing beats 1 and 3 staccato helps create the shuffle feel. To produce staccato you must release the pressure on the strings. When you release the pressure there is a split second of relaxation. Twice a bar, on beats 1 and 3, you are relaxing for a split second. Those split seconds add up over time, increasing stamina.

Check out the video for a demonstration of the above techniques:

Question: Didn't you give these lessons away already a couple of years ago in the monthly newsletter?

Answer: Yes, that's true. In fact, I have given away most of Units 1 and 2 as one of the benefits of site membership through the monthly newsletter or as free lessons in the blog. Sure, IF you were receiving this monthly newsletter two years ago you could dig back through your emails and find them, one lesson per month for about a year. IF you are a site member you can find it on the Free Lessons page in the Members-Only section of the website. However, there's no guarantee for how long it will be up! I received a notice from my web hosting service that I’ve reached my maximum storage capacity. So I’ll either have to pay for more storage or start deleting some things.

People value convenience. I’ve learned that it’s worthwhile to launch the stuff I’ve previously given away for free as its own product, all neatly bundled up in one PDF and downloaded to your device of choice.

Question: I don't see anything in the Table of Contents about Blues scales or soloing. Is soloing covered?

Answer: No. Before you can solo you must thoroughly understand the chords and song forms; you must know where you are in the song as you solo. So the material in this lesson series must be mastered first.

However - I will have an option in place to deal with the soloing issue. Soloing over the Blues is dealt with in a whole different lesson series, "Concepts for Basic Improvising." I will offer both PDFs, Unit 2: The Blues AND Concepts for Basic Improvising - as a Combo Pak option.

Don't forget: The launch emails that I send out next week that have links to the downloads will be sent to SITE MEMBERS ONLY!

So if you are not a Site Member and want the download,

Look for the opening launch email this coming Monday, May 22!



Sign up as a Master Guitar School site member - it's free! - and get access to dozens of free site-based lessons, a monthly newsletter that contains a brand-new free lesson, and DEEP discounts on lesson series downloads - plus more!

For more information on site membership see Why Become a Site Member?

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