nothing but blues ukulele

Nothing But The Blues

Throughout October I decided to play nothing but the blues. It didn’t matter if there was something else I desperately wanted to learn, it would have to wait.

Why did I do this I hear you cry (ok maybe I can’t hear you but if you’re still reading you must be interested).

Quite frankly I wasn’t improving. My practice sessions had lost their way. I’d find myself half learning the intro to a song and moving on to something else that tickled my fancy.

By focusing only on the blues, I figured I would have to see some improvement in my playing. I wasn’t specifically looking for improvement in the blues, but with it having such a strong standing in modern music it seemed like a good place to start.

Here I am on day 1…

I’ve detailed below everything I found helpful when it came to progressing my blues ukulele playing. Those resources took a number of forms: physical books, ebooks, YouTube channels, websites and more. I looked all over for material to help me learn.

Probably the two main resources were Al Wood’s How To Play Blues Ukulele ebook and Manitoba Hal’s YouTube channel.

I learned quite a lot in my 30 days and I’ll definitely be doing it again!

If you’ve spent any time on this site you’ll know that I’ve mentioned Al Wood’s How to Play Blues Ukulele before. It’s pretty much the most comprehensive resource out there for blues ukulele (certainly that I’ve found). It starts off very simple but takes you to a good level covering everything from strumming to licks and riffs.

Manitoba Hal’s YouTube Channel I don’t think has been mentioned on my site before. This is a huge shame as there’s some great blues lessons on it. Hal is a brilliant blues player with some great tips and advice. His lessons tend to breeze along at a fair old pace but you can always rewind and play again.

Lil Revs ukulele licks book came in handy but wasn’t used as much as Al’s book. It has a lot of blues riffs in it (in pretty much all keys). The reason I didn’t lean on this book quite so heavily is that I didn’t actually like a lot of the riffs in it. Some of them are really basic. Some of the theory in the book is great though and I really liked the recommended listening section. It got me listening to a lot of blues music which has been a big help.

What Have I Learned

Here’s a short video I recorded after the 30 day experiment (hopefully I did more than just put a jacket on).

Better 12 Bar Blues

The first thing I really learned and developed was solidifying my knowledge of the 12 bar blues. Obviously the 12 bar blues isn’t particularly difficult to learn but I became more used to it. I learned intro and outros and tips and tricks to make my blues playing better.

More Minor Pentatonic Positions

The next thing I learned was the minor pentatonic scale in multiple positions. I’ve always been comfortable playing the minor pentatonic scale but only in a single position. Through soloing a lot, I found myself jumping into different positions more often. I’m getting quite comfortable with this now.

E7 Movable Shape

Another thing I got to grips with as a result of my 30 days of blues was the E7 chord shape further up the neck. I’d never really smoothed this one out as a movable chord and was a little bit slow to get it down. That’s sorted now. I’ve never played so many 7 chords in my life!

Mixing It Up

One of the things I’m most pleased about learning is developing my ability to mix up little riffs alongside my rhythm playing. I’ve always liked the sound of this so I’m happy that I’ve developed it enough to give it a go. I can drop little half and full bar riffs into my playing relatively seamlessly (always room for improvement though).

Other Blues Ukulele Stuff

Here are some other resources I turned to. I maybe didn’t use them quite as much as some of the others but they’re definitely worth your times if you’re interested in blues ukulele (also if you know of a great resource please let me know and I’ll get it included).

  1. Daddystovepipe’s website
  2. Blues Fingerpicking from Ukulele Mag
  3. Ukulele Underground’s YouTube Channel

Overall I’m pretty happy with my Nothing But experiment. I’m just debating what my next 30 days will be focussed on (I haven’t ruled out continuing with the blues yet).

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