Blues Up The Neck! FAQs

Mar 05, 2021

Along with a brisk trade in sign-ups for Blues Up The Neck!, I've also heard from a handful of folks with questions about the workshop. As a public service, here are my answers to some of the things people have been asking about this Saturday's class:

1. How would you compare this course to your Truefire Fingerstyle Blues Factory?

The Fingerstyle Factory course covers both steady bass and the alternating thumb style, in the keys of E and A. Since I try and keep the workshops as tightly focused as possible, for Blues Up The Neck! we're going to stick to steady bass in the key of E. That said, the overall approach is very similar: going phrase by phrase through the blues progression, and then learning how to mix and match those phrases to create your own array of variations on the blues.

Also, Fingerstyle Blues Factory tends to stick to open position, while this workshop, by definition, is about how to get into the upper reaches of the fingerboard and connect that to what you already know down at the nut. So in that respect, this workshop would make a great complement to the Truefire course. Although the guy who teaches the Truefire course is younger and, arguably, more handsome.

2. I'm signed up for the Fingerstyle Five. I was wondering whether the Blues Up the Neck! workshop would be worthwhile or superfluous considering the Fingerstyle Five membership?

In the workshops, I usually (though not always) try and use the format to do a deep dive on an essential concept, rather than focusing on a specific song like we do in the membership. So while I've presented the occasional upper-position lick to Fingerstyle Five members, we've yet to cover playing up the neck in the comprehensive way I plan to this Saturday.

I initially created the workshops as an alternative for people who were uninterested, for one reason or another, in committing to an ongoing monthly membership, but I do think the workshops and membership are complementary in terms of the material. There seem to be many Fingerstyle Five members who agree, because I always see many familiar membership folks among the workshop attendees.

3. Will this lesson be downloadable?

The workshops continue to be offered as streaming-only events. However, the materials include downloadable PDFs of all the notation/tab from the class, as well as a downloadable workbook of the slides I present during the workshop. And you'll have unlimited access to the video replay for three months after the workshop itself – plenty of time to review, take notes, mark up the tab, and otherwise take in all the material from the event.

How is the workshop organized?

I'll spend the first thirty minutes or so on an overview of the blues form and the five essential kinds of blues phrases, then get into the main resources for this class: chord shapes on the top three strings, 3rds and 6ths and the harmonized Mixolydian scale, and mixing scales and chords to create call and response figures.

After that, we'll spend about an hour looking at a dozen four-bar examples I've tabbed out, showing how to put all of this together into real blues phrases. Besides going over each example, I'll show you specific ways to swap in one phrase for another based on where you are in the form, so when the workshop is done you'll know exactly how to practice what you've been given to start creating your own variations on the fly.

I'll spend the last half hour answering questions, going over anything that was unclear, and generally making sure you walk away knowing how to work on the material and apply it to what you already can do in open position.

4. I won't be free at 10:30 a.m. Central this Saturday. Can I still register?

Absolutely. Sign up as if you were going to attend, then just tune in to the replay whenever you have the time. You'll have access to all the same downloads, and the same three months of access to the replay stream.

5. Is registration still open?

I thought you'd never ask. Yes! You can sign up right until the workshop starts, though I recommend not cutting it too close. You can find more details on the workshop, and register, at the link below:

Blues Up The Neck!

Still have questions? Drop me a line at the email below, and I'll do my best to answer you in a timely and coherent fashion.