Blind Boy Fuller was an expert in the fingerpicking guitar style known as Piedmont or Ragtime Blues.

 It's  a difficult style to master, as the thumb and fingers operate tend to operate independently of each other. That alternating bass performed by the thumb is crucial to the technique.

Learning how to play acoustic blues guitar is a two pronged battle. First, we have to train our motor skills to technically make the right sounds.

Once we know where to put the fingers of both hands, its just a case of practicing for many hours a week. It is  that a professional guitarist has about 10 000 hours of practice time under his belt.

Tommy Emmanuel once guessed that he had practiced around one hundred thousand hours in his life time, which comes in at about 5 hours a day, every single day!

Guitar players will tell you that improvement comes in levels .

You stick at one level of competence for a lengthy period, and then it seems as though you jump to the next. Of course, the progress is because of regular practice.

We have all watched excellent guitarists perform and been totally bored after 5 minutes, just because there is no feeling - it just doesn't mean anything. From time to time, technical skill and feeling will come together in a certain guitarist, and then we hear magic.

Naturally, everything is relative, and playing the  guitar is the same. Although Clapton is considered a legend, his acoustic blues picking technique appears quite basic when compared to Tommy Emmanuel, who can literally play any style of music.

The Psychological Aspects Of Learning To Play Guitar

It happens now and again we feel totally stuck and need something to lift us over the 'wall'. Frequently, the blockage is purely in our minds. An old playing partner of mine left town for over a year, and we spoke on the telephone now and again.

One day he told me he had learned how to play 'Police Dog Blues' by Blind Blake, which is a very difficult piece to play correctly. Up until that point, I couldn't play it. My old friend was always a slightly guitarist, and I was very competitive, and so I learned it inside one week.

When he came back,
I let him know that I could also play Police Dog Blues as well. He let out a laugh and exclaimed, "I can't play it - too tough. I was only having fun with you." That's a great blues lesson right there.

Author: Jim Bruce 
Date: 2014-06-16
Category: Music

Fuller's take on Careless Love, a traditional American folk song.


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