Blues 101 - A Review of The Latest Blues Guitar Instructional Books

If you love rock music as much as I do and you've done your homework, you already know that the blues are an integral part of the fibres that make up rock'n'roll. If you haven't done your homework, here is your chance to learn a thing or do about how some of the finest blues musicians of all time constructed their solos, shuffles, marches, and got their rhythm and blues groove on.

Hal Leonard Books has recently dedicated quite a bit of their instructional book publishing to the blues genre. In this round-up, I review a few of their offerings and help you decide what you might benefit the most from if you're crunched for time. I've divided the reviews into two separate sections: one for transcriptions/folios, and the other for instructional books that are more like "workbooks" that teach you how to be a better and more complete blues guitarist. Click on the cover photo of each book to get song listings, supplemental resources, and ordering information from Hal Leonard. 

Transcribed Folios
Hal Leonard Guitar Play-Along T-Bone Walker (Vol.160)

If you're into the Guitar Play-Along series that Hal Leonard is famous for, AND you are a fan of T-Bone Walker's blues playing, you're in luck. This new book includes 8 songs with TAB and a sound-alike CD to help you master the art of T-Bone's blues guitar playing. 
Recommended For: Intermediate to Advanced players who are looking to add T-Bone Walker's repertoire into their playing and be able to play along with the sound-alike tracks.







Robben Ford Guitar Anthology 
If you're a Robben Ford fan, this anthology may be just the thing to help you continue in your guitar hero's footsteps. It contains 17 of Robben's best, and the TAB is down extremely well, down to the little nuances that make his playing remarkable. 
Recommended For: Intermediate to Advanced players who want to play Robben Ford's songs note-for-note and study the style of his playing.








Albert King with Stevie Ray Vaughan In Session
Look no further than this complete TAB-included folio if you want to play this collaborative album of two of the most revered blues guitarists ever to walk the earth. The seven songs included are Stormy Monday Blues, Pride and Joy, Ask Me No Questions, Blues At Sunrise, Overall Junction, Match Box Blues, and Don't Lie To Me. As usual with Hal Leonard transcriptions, the TAB is accurately and thoroughly notated so that you can play every single note of this extraordinary album.
Recommended For: Intermediate to Advanced players who are looking for a note-for-note transcription of potentially the most important collaboration in modern blues history.





Guitar - Legendary Licks: Michael Bloomfield
Michael Bloomfield is respected and highly regarded by many of the guitar heroes that we give way more attention to. While this book breaks down (note-for-note) the solos, intros, and main progressions from 11 of Bloomfield's most famous tracks, the best thing about it are the anecdotes, notes, and quotes that are sprinkled throughout the book to give you a real idea of how the gone-to-soon Bloomfield got his amazing tone and feel - two things money can't buy.
Recommended For: Intermediate to Advanced players who want an inside look at the guitar style of Michael Bloomfield and want to know how he achieved his distinctive tone.





Instructional Books

Stretchin' The Blues: 30 Lessons To Expand Your Blues Vocabulary, by Duke Robillard
Are you tired of recycling those same pentatonic licks over and over again? Have you been playing the same turnaround patterns since you were 18? Here's a book that will help you out of those - and more! - blues playing ruts. Award-winning blues guitarist Duke Robillard walks you through 30 specific lessons that range from chord voicings, double and triple stop methods, harmonized riffs, shuffles, Chicago-style riffs, and much, much more. The bonus? The book includes a CD with the tracks for each lesson so you can hear what you're supposed to sound like and play along once you've figured it out.
Recommended For: Intermediate to Advanced players who want to expand their blues repertoire and get out of playing the same pentatonic licks over and over again



Musician's Institute Master Class - Blues Guitar Soloing, by Keith Wyatt
Have you always wanted to attend MI (Musician's Institute)? Well, I'm not going to say that buying one book is going to make your dream come true, but it's a cost-effective way to learn from some of the top blues guitar instructors in the comfort of your own home. This book is a complete guide to blues lead guitar techniques, concepts, and styles. If you've always wanted to become more theoretically aware of why you need to be playing certain notes, chords, or turnarounds, this book is for you. By the time you're done, if you've practiced along with the audio access that is provided with the purchase of the book, you should be a significantly better blues lead guitar player. If not, open the book to page one and start again, because there is a tremendous amount of great information in this very concise and thorough guide. The best feature of this book is that it breaks down artist-specific examples, so if you want to sound more like Jimmy Reed for example, read up on those sections. 
Recommended For: Advanced guitar players who want a better handle on lead blues methods and want to expand their knowledge of specific blues players and the style and method of their playing.


Berklee Press Guitar Series: Blues Guitar Technique, In the style of B.B. King, Albert Collins, T-Bone Walker, and Other Blues Guitar Masters, by Michael Williams
The Berklee College of Music is one of the most renowned music schools in the world. While you may not be in the position to enrol in one of their courses, the great news is that some of their most significant instructors often write books that teach you a great deal of what they cover in their classes. Michael Williams continues from his blues guitar workshop left off with this volume, and explains entire songs and styles step by step, while providing you with the information you need to capture the tone of the individual styles he is featuring. 
Recommended For: Advanced players that are willing to dedicate the time and effort into really immersing themselves into the styles and nuances of some of the blues guitar masters.