Skip to content
Introduction/Learni...
 
Notifications
Clear all

Introduction/Learning the Blues/Equipment Questions

27 Posts
10 Users
0 Likes
3,956 Views
Cid410
(@cid410)
Active Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 8
Topic starter  

Hey everyone. This is my first post here, but I've been reading the forums here on and off for about 3 months. I've been playing a lot the last few days and I can't get guitar off my mind. My fingers are pretty raw right now, and I had to stop, so I decided to finally make a post. My name's Geoff, and I'm 22. I got my first guitar when I was 11 or so, but I never bothered to learn. I played riffs of my favorite songs fairly poorly, and then moved on. I never once learned a chord. Anyways, I'd say that I got back to playing about 4 months ago. I bought a new guitar in October(Squier Jagmaster) and I'm enjoying it greatly. I'm still very strongly in the beginner's realm. What really sent back into learning hard this week was Link Wray. I learned Rumble, and I guess it's the first song I can actually play all the way through. But since I can't seem to find that magnificent fuzz tone to my liking on my crummy old Squier SP-10 amp or my pocket POD, I started playing around with the song to make it more engaging when playing unplugged. I started to mess with strum patterns, and activating my pinky to give a bluesier feel by alternating the E and A chords into E7 and A7. This leads me to my first question...

I'd like some recommendations for learning the blues. Where do I start? I'm generally not a Blues guy for listening, but when I get behind the guitar, I seem to float in that direction. I didn't even know the variations I was doing to Rumble were proper blues chords. They just sounded good to me. So I went and got a Robert Johnson record, and of course, I have no chance of learning that. So, what are some good beginner's blues songs? Or even at that, some 50's rock n roll type songs...

Second, I'm thinking of picking up a new amp in the next few months. What's a good beginner's amp? Keep in mind, this is for practice only. I don't need volume. Even on my current one I never go over 2 or 3 since I live in an apartment, and don't want to bother the neighbors with my crappy playing. I just need something with decent tone and enough customizability at that. Also, does anyone have any recommendations for replacement strings. I'm using D'Adarrio something or other right now. I just picked up some Fender 10 gauge Super 250's. Planning on stringing em up tomorrow, so we'll see how that goes. Still. I don't know what real difference there is between 10s and 9s as far as sound goes.

I guess I'll stop there. The post is already too long. I'm just a bit overwhelmed. I want to learn everything right now. Even coming on to type this message I ended up distracted by the Behind Blue Eyes lesson, and ended up messing with it for like an hour. even though I told myself I was done playing for the night...

Thanks in advance to those who would bother to read that whole thing and actually respond.


   
Quote
Ricochet
(@ricochet)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 7833
 

Link Wray reportedly got his fuzz tone by cutting a slit in his speaker cone with a pocket knife and cranking his amp.

"A cheerful heart is good medicine."


   
ReplyQuote
lue42
(@lue42)
Reputable Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 356
 

As far as learning blues, I think you should focus on learning scales.

Find a decent blues backing track. Go here: http://www.dolphinstreet.com/backing_tracks/
(try the Winter Blues in E)

Then go here:
http://jguitar.com/scale/E/Blues

Just start playing notes in the dark blue area... go up and down, double up some notes, skip a few... just play around with the backing track playing. Let a few notes ring out, bend a few strings here and there.

If you are confused, go to youtube and search for "blues scale lesson" or something like that.

Now... that you have tried it, and hopefully are "hearing" a blues song... you now have to actually learn what you are doing. Learn the basic music theory and scales lessons so you can actually understand why you are playing those notes.

I won't bother linking anything, as you can Google most lessons, and I think Guitar Noise has some on learning scales.

As far as the amp...

For a practice amp, I personally like the Fender Frontman series. Make sure you get one with Reverb.

My first amp was a Fender FM15R... and I loved it. My dad has the 65R and it is a great amp.

They aren't too expensive either.

My Fingerstyle Guitar Blog:
http://fsguitar.wordpress.com

My Guitars
Ibanez Artwood AWS1000ECE-NT
Schecter S-1 30th Anniversary Edition
Ovation CS257
LaPatrie Etude
Washburn Rover RO10


   
ReplyQuote
Wes Inman
(@wes-inman)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 5582
 

I have been reading the reviews on this Raven amp, they are pretty good. What I especially like is that you get a 12" speaker on an amp less than $100 US. You don't find that often. But this amp will work at home, and has enough power for jams or open mics.

Raven RG20

If you know something better than Rock and Roll, I'd like to hear it - Jerry Lee Lewis


   
ReplyQuote
dogbite
(@dogbite)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 6348
 

Link Wray reportedly got his fuzz tone by cutting a slit in his speaker cone with a pocket knife and cranking his amp.

I heard he poked a pencil in it.
if I did that to my amp's speaker I bet I would play the blues with more feeling.

how to play the blues?
listen to a lot of players from the 30's on up.
learn to count the measures unconsciously.
starting with 12 bar is good.
listen to what has been done.
learn the scales.
play with feeling.

learning blues licks exclusively is stupid.
learning the songs all the way through is smarter.
the two working together is the goal.

http://www.soundclick.com/bands/pagemusic.cfm?bandID=644552
http://www.soundclick.com/couleerockinvaders


   
ReplyQuote
Cid410
(@cid410)
Active Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 8
Topic starter  

According to the Rhino Link Wray Best Of liner notes, "Link's guitar sounds almost double-tracked, an audio illusion that was achieved by punching pencil holes into the amp's speakers, creating the world''s first recorded instance of what we now call fuzztone." When I buy a new amp, I might try this on my little old amp and see what happens.

Thanks for the responses everyone. I'm gonna check out the amps mentioned. As for the blues, I suppose I'll start with the scales. Honestly I sort of already did. I've got a little bit of understanding of Blues scale in A, as well as the pentatonic since Rumble uses that. This proves really how important learning whole songs is. I learned so much from figuring out Rumble start to finish. So if anyone has suggestions about blues songs for beginners, I'd appreciate it. Still, I'm not sure I understand exactly how these scales work. My general understanding of music theory is poor. For example I just discovered last night the way barre chords work. Such as figuring out Cm and Gm based on Am pattern and Em Pattern. That's still just pattern recognition though. It's far removed from understanding what makes a chord a chord. Anyone have a good site for learning the basics of music theory? I think it would really help me to step back and get a better hold of that. Otherwise, the scales are just memorization of patterns, not an intuitive thing based on whatever it is scales are really based on.


   
ReplyQuote
Ricochet
(@ricochet)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 7833
 

I'd recommend starting with the lessons on this site.

"A cheerful heart is good medicine."


   
ReplyQuote
TRGuitar
(@trguitar)
Famed Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 3709
 

Welcome to the world of bleeding fingers! 8)

Ditto on the Raven amp ..... It's even got a built in tuner! The thing I think I like least about any small practice amp I've ever played through is the tiny speakers thin tone. That 12 incher might sound nice.

"Work hard, rock hard, eat hard, sleep hard,
grow big, wear glasses if you need 'em."
-- The Webb Wilder Credo --


   
ReplyQuote
Cid410
(@cid410)
Active Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 8
Topic starter  

I was prepared to spend around 300 on an amp, but yes that Raven seems pretty cool. I was thinking, even before this topic, of going the Fender Frontman route. It'll still be a while before I get one, so there's time to think about it...

So, I was exploring a little more of the lessons here. I did most of the really basic ones months ago. But I found 'How to Play Simple Chords on Keyboard and Guitar," which definitely answered some of my music theory questions. Also I've started working on Folsom Prison Blues. I'm taking it slow. I can do the chord changes on time fine except the B7 which I'm still a little slow on, but the problem is that I'm considering my strumming more so I get tripped up changing chords. The whole active bassline in between strums throws me off for now. My rhythm's okay if I'm strumming every string or even the 4 or 5 highest on certain chords, but any more complex picking patterns throw me off, so this is the perfect lesson for me. I'll work on it every day for a while and see where I am in a week or so. And I've gone through the first 2 blues lessons with Before You Accuse Me and Roll Over Beethoven. I think I played around with these a while ago, but they seemed easy so I didn't spend much time. Now I'm more interested in the Blues, it was pretty rewarding, just working on the shuffle rhythm. The only thing that really trips me up is the stretching of my hand on Roll Over Beethoven. I can reach if I set up with my pinky first but it's pretty awkward. I do have a capo, but this seems like a good way to get my fingers used to stretching. Man I love this site. I gotta say thanks to David Hodge and the other creators and contributors.


   
ReplyQuote
TRGuitar
(@trguitar)
Famed Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 3709
 

Wow, if your prepared to spend that much and you like blues, you might want to consider a small inexpensive tube amp. There are a lot of them out there now and they are of the practice amp size yet loud. I let the others point you to their favorite models. :wink:

"Work hard, rock hard, eat hard, sleep hard,
grow big, wear glasses if you need 'em."
-- The Webb Wilder Credo --


   
ReplyQuote
DennisF6
(@dennisf6)
Trusted Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 74
 

I started with an SP-10 amp myself, about 3 years ago.
My next amp was a Roland Microcube. http://guitars.musiciansfriend.com/product/Roland-Micro-Cube-Combo-Amp?sku=481169 . It's amazing how much great sound can come from such a small amp. This was a HUGE improvement from an SP-10.

Later I added a bigger amp - Vox VT-30. http://guitars.musiciansfriend.com/product/Vox-Valvetronix-VT30-30W-1x10-Guitar-Combo-Amp?sku=483552 .
The thing I like about this one is that (I'll just quote the ad here): Power level control allows you to adjust the output wattage of the power amp, so you can obtain that distinctive power amp distortion even at low output levels So you can still "overdrive" your amp without getting loud.

However, even with a bigger, better, amp, I still use my Microcube a lot. It will always fill a niche as something I can easily move around.

So, the point of this long history of my amplifier life is that a Microcube is a good amp for a (relative) beginner. Someday you will probably want to move up from a beginner amp and this is one of the very few that you will probably still want even after you have a better amp.

Although I must admit that Raven looks very cool!

I want to play guitar very badly -
and I do!


   
ReplyQuote
rparker
(@rparker)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 5480
 

I'm with TR on the tube amp thing. I've got two of them. One for practice and travel and the other for, well, it's powerful. The smaller one is a Fender Super Champ XD, and sells for $300. I chose it because it has some effects built into it along with some channels for non-clean settings. It's really perfect for what I like and use it for. My only knock is that beside a Fender Hot Rod Deluxe, it does sound thin. 10 inch speaker instead of 12 probably.

The reasons I like it so much are that it's easy to carry and portable, has a wide range of tones which is useful for learning different genres, etc, and it's got some effects built in. That's all what makes this a perfect practice amp for me. If you were to get this for a starter amp, you'd have your practice amp for further on down the road already taken care of. It will suit two purposes.

Fender isn't the only one making these types of amps. There are several hybrid amps out there. Some have been mentioned in this thread. I like the Fender clean tube tone, so the choice for me was an obvious one. Those Roland Cube amps are a good solid state entry. I "own" one, but "lent" it to a friend in need. It got pushed aside when I bought the Super Champ. I've heard good things about the Vox, but have not played one. Too many people around here have and like them, so I would not hesitate.

The big thing is that if you can spend the $300, you're a step ahead of the game. You can have your starter amp evolve into a long term travel-practice-going to a jam amp. If I had to do it over again, that's what I'd do.

Roy
"I wonder if a composer ever intentionally composed a piece that was physically impossible to play and stuck it away to be found years later after his death, knowing it would forever drive perfectionist musicians crazy." - George Carlin


   
ReplyQuote
colin rp
(@colin-rp)
Eminent Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 37
 

This is the amp I use. I mostly play blues and old rock http://guitars.musiciansfriend.com/product/Kustom-Tube-12A-Practice-Amp?sku=481230 I like the tone. It could have a better eq and it could have a tube output etc... but it has advantages like a direct line out for plugging into p.a. at open mic jams or you can mic it and it has decent tone imo. Ditto on the lessons on this site. Learning the basic elements of blues so that you can play with others is helpful like turnarounds and basic blues accompaniements like shuffles. But just pick out songs you like and you really can't go wrong. Alot is made out of scales, but to me understanding how they relate to melody is what's important. If you can start picking out melodies using scales then you are only a step away from improvising solos.
Good luck on your search.


   
ReplyQuote
Cid410
(@cid410)
Active Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 8
Topic starter  

Wow there's a lot to consider with my amp purchase. I really appreciate all the recommendations.

Right now, that Fender Super Champ XD that rparker recommended looks beautiful. I had never considered a small tube amp before. I like the prospect of a tube amp with tone tweaking options. The only concern I have is that I understand that Tubes tend to be much louder than solid states even at lower wattage. I'm generally not going to need something very loud. I rarely crack a 2 on the volume knob of my current amp.

rparker, how do you think it performs with low volume settings? Does it still have a nice full sound? If so, I am sold on it.


   
ReplyQuote
rparker
(@rparker)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 5480
 

rparker, how do you think it performs with low volume settings? Does it still have a nice full sound? If so, I am sold on it.

I think it sounds decent. Like I said, it does not have a 12-inch speaker. I will probably replace my speaker this year. Not a high dollar expenditure. I've lurked around other forums and saw Super Champ owners replacing original with some brand and really liking it. I think it's called Eminence Patriot Rajun Cajun. My reasoning for this mod, besides in really not being an expensive mod, is that it did sound thin compared to a Hot Rod Deluxe side by side at moderate levels.

The dirty tones are done differently than most tube amps. It's done via computer like a modeller I think. Might want to read up on it a bit. I forgot exactly how it gets it's tones. The clean setting is still quite nice at low volumes too. It's a 15W, so it'll get loud enough for many things. Try it out to make sure it suits you, of course.

There was another amp advertised on the market that was done up with tubes and processor much like the Super Champ. I remember reading about it and remembering that it fit all my criteria for the practice amp. I'll look around MF to see if I remember which one.

I'm not really beating so much on the Super Champ drum as much as I am on what the Super Champ does for me. If I was invited to a jam, I know I could take this one amp with all of it's channels and do pretty much what I wanted to do. I could also play downstairs in the family room with only this amp and not some big amp with pedals laying about. If the time comes and I ever play out in a loud environment, it'll be the Blues Deluxe and it's pedals.

I like Fender clean tone, so the choice is really obvious for me. Many a good fight have started with tone arguments. That's why you should look at things like the VOX hybrid and other entries into that field. I had a Line 6 Spider II and hated it's tone, but I hear the next generation is better. I did have a Cube 30X around(non-tube), and it could do a bunch of things, but alas. I like Fender clean tone and could not get by that. One thing it could do with ease was that death-metal thunk. I could shake windows at low volumes.

I will also say that if I didn't want all the variations on tones and effects all in one box, but still wanted a smaller watt amp that I would have gone with I think the Blues Jr or the other Jr that's out there. Almost twice the money though......

Roy
"I wonder if a composer ever intentionally composed a piece that was physically impossible to play and stuck it away to be found years later after his death, knowing it would forever drive perfectionist musicians crazy." - George Carlin


   
ReplyQuote
Page 1 / 2