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Playing the Blues (& Nailing the Changes) lesson question
  • Curious about these two lessons. I don't play blues, and don't foresee myself anytime soon, however, I'm aware that much of the music I listen to has its roots in the blues. I'm sure there would be benefit from taking these lessons, but would my time be better spent on other lessons?

    I'm more of an indie rock, singer songwriter, and beginning country & jazz player. I've been playing for about 25 years, but never was very studious about it until recently. So far I've either taken or am currently working my way through Freddie Green Rhythm Style, Country Soul, Arpeggios as Exercises, Table For One, Voice Leading and Progressions, and Panhandle Rag. I'm already planing on getting the Travis lesson and a chord melody (probably Amazing Grace).

    I'm really just trying to get some idea of how much I would get out of the Playing the Blues lesson, and what about the Nailing the Changes lesson, can one take the Nailing the Changes lesson without first taking Playing the Blues? Others I'm considering at this point are B flat Blues Concepts, F Jazz Blues Concepts, both Steel Guitar lessons, and Country Lead in G. Basically, I feel like those lessons will be more towards the style I like to play, but I'm wondering if I'll be missing out on some foundational things without Playing the Blues and Nailing the Changes.

    Sorry for the somewhat rambling post, but any input from folks that have been down the path would be appreciated.


  • HiTony, thanks for your post. It was interesting to read and got me thinking a bit! First I want to say that it sounds like you have had a very interesting and somewhat “unconventional” path with the guitar. I am always fascinated to hear the divergent roads that many of us travel in pursuit of musical expression. And, it does sound like you have a remarkable and “off the beaten path” journey so far.

    My guess is that you have probably picked up some blues basics without even realizing it as a lot of jazz and country (as you mention in your post) can be traced back to roots in the blues. That being said, I think that you would really benefit and LOVE both the “Playing the Blues” AND Playing the Blues “nailing the changes.” And, I think that both of these lessons will give you some amazing insight into the country and jazz music that you have been playing for years. I am sure you are aware that there are TONS of resources and lessons available in countless instructional books, magazines, DVDs, on-line etc that offer blues lessons. I am guessing that the reason for the popularity and demand for blues based lessons is the simple fact that so many styles of music (from rock, rockabilly, jazz, country, funk, punk etc etc) can be traced back to some form of blues. That being said, one of the daunting aspects of getting into a new or different style of music is answering the questions of “where do I begin and how much time is this going to take?” Both of these lessons are the perfect place to start!

    The great thing about both Playing the Blues and Nailing the Changes is that Jim does an excellent job of distilling the essential aspects of playing the blues into two very tight and concise lessons. When I picked up the first Playing the Blues lesson I already had a fairly good grasp of the pentatonic and blues scales(essential for blues playing) and a few basic rhythms and progressions and a handfull of blues based riffs that I had learned over the years. However, I was never able to quite “put it all together” and was never able to play comfortably up and down the neck – this lesson changed all of that for me! I was very curious to see what “spin” Jim would put on this for a beginner/intermediate paced lesson. I was not disappointed as the first lesson very effectively presents THE MOST PRACTICAL application of the pentatonic and blues scales that I have ever seen. Jim really “cuts out the fat” that fill so many other blues lessons and gets right down to the nitty gritty of what the student really needs to know for real life playing situations. In addition to going over the technical aspect of the scales (fingering, where to play etc) the lesson also incorporates immediately applicable riffs and a few “tricks” that are sound great, are easy to play, and instantly lifts your playing to a new level. Another great aspect to the lesson is the section devoted to string bending tips and techniques. Bending strings is one of my favorite aspects of blues playing and the lesson goes through some great exercises that help improve technique and your ear. In addition, the lesson contains an original blues piece that is filled some very melodic and complex sounding lead lines that are relatively easy to play but sound great. In my opinion this first Playing the Blues Lesson is THE place to start for anyone who wants to get a taste of what is like to play blues. Its easy to jump into this one and the result are immediate and profound. If I recall correctly, another forum member (Telebilly, I believe) said that his whole New Journey into the world of Campilongo playing started with this lesson.

    Nailing the Changes – this lesson seriously took my playing to another level. After spending a few weeks digging into the first playing the blues lesson I was excited to see what was in store for the next lesson. Nailing the Changes is a fantastic follow up! In nailing the changes Jim introduces his unique triad approach to playing over chord changes. The concept is explained in very simple terms and is demonstrated through some great examples. This lesson is loaded with a ton of blues riffs and some pretty cool techniques that sound very impressive but are relatively easy to lock into. There is also a section devoted to bending strings over chord changes. Very very cool technique to get down and once again its explained in a simple and straightforward manner. Much like the first Playing the Blues lesson, Nailing the Changes is immediately applicable in countless live playing situations. And for me, I found that Nailing the Changes really helped me to start developing a feel for playing rockabilly type solos. If you are into Rockabilly (and I believe Country for that matter) you doubtless have heard great melodic solos that harmonize beautifully with the chords that are going on in the song. Well, in my opinion, this lesson gives the student tremendous insight into crafting their own melodic solos and riffs. I highly highly recommend this lesson!

    B flat Blues is another incredible lesson that will take your blues playing to another level. If you are interested I will find my write up of B flat blues from an older post. In short, B Flat blues takes the triad approach that the student becomes acquainted with from Playing the Changes and “takes it up” a few notches. B flat Blues is truly a lesson that helps a blues player break out of the box. I would recommend both Playing the Blues as well as Nailing the Changes as a precursor to this one though to get the maximum benefit.
    The Travis Lesson is my ALL TIME FAVE Campy lesson as that one gave me the technical ability and confidence to add fingerpicking to my playing. I believe that this lesson can be taken regardless of background as Jim slowly breaks down 3 Travis patterns that you can get a lot of mileage from. F Jazz is much trickier than B Flat the other playing the blues lessons. F Jazz is incredibly mind expanding but should probably not be attempted until the student has spent some time with B flat blues – just my opinion! The steel guitar lesson are equally great but again, I would recommend having some blues based knowledge before jumping in there. Finally, Country Lead in G is just a super FUN lesson. Its filled with a handful of tight, catchy, and well crafted lead riffs that are a blast to play and are guaranteed to get your creative juices flowing! Again, I would personally recommend the two Playing the Blues lessons as a precursor to this as well as most of the lessons on your list – again just my opinion.

    Tony, let me know if the above helps at all and feel free to ask any follow up questions. I am sure that there are some other forum members who may want to jump in on this conversation as well!

    Happy playing!
  • We are lucky to have CJ here! Thank you and well said. I concur!
  • Audio and fingering/chord charts. They're really well done, and Jim can't help but toss in some theory in his explanations that, once you have something to look at in front of you, you go, "Oh, now I get what that means!"
    So, jump in, Luie. You'll be glad you did.
  • Thanks CJ,

    That's is the type of response I was looking for, and the answer that I somewhat expected, as far the foundational applicability of the lessons. In short, I ordered the Playing The Blues lesson.

    I haven't had a chance to work with it yet (I'm out of town on a work trip), but I have listened to it, and it's what I was hoping for.

    Just curious, what makes Travis your favorite? I've just recently started it, and I like it. I have some limited experience with hybrid picking, but no formal training, and it's a technique I want to use more, so I'm excited to get deeper into it.

    For the record, I don't think my guitar path has been that out of the ordinary, got started at 12 in 1987, took some lessons from teachers that weren't stellar, and I wasn't a stellar student. First lesson, I learned the names of the strings, the notes on the E & A strings, and how to play a power chord; the second lesson I learned the main riff of Smokin' In The Boys Room, and from there my lessons were learning the intro to this current metal song, or the verse riff to that metal song, etc. I don't think all of the blame lays with the teachers, but I do wish I had been given some sort of practice schedule to attempt, whether I would have followed it at 12 is another question entirely. At some point, I realized I preferred writing my own parts and melodies. By my late teens, I was in punk and indie-rock bands, playing original music, but never really pushing myself to step out of my comfort zone or work on techniques.

    Recently, I decided that I wanted to make a more deliberate effort to increase my abilities and learn some jazz and country styles that I enjoy listening to, but always assumed I could never do. I also decided to keep a good practice schedule & log.

    Thanks again for the input,


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