I want to learn modern blues but

I want to learn the blues but I am only interested in works from modern guitarists like Eric gales, Joe Bonamassa, and/or other modern blues genius. Can I just get started learning their styie, chops, technques or must I force myself to travel back in time to listen to Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, 3 Kings ,etc ? I seriously just fell asleep when listening to BB King. Geez … so sorry if I offended anyone here.

What bonamassa is playing is based on the same scales and techniques bb etc used

If you want to play like them you’ll have to learn all the foundational skills required.

There’s no shortcuts

What @RobDickinson said.

However, that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to spend several hours listening to these artists if you don’t want to.

You can learn the fundamental scales, chord progressions, etc. without doing that, and you can even pick up some of their playing style and licks through Justin’s lessons.

Just because you don’t listen to these old blues players for fun, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t learn some of their style and favourite licks, as these inform the artists you do love, and transcend any particular player.

IMO it is a mistake to jump past the fundamentals just because you associate them with a particular player or era.



(Sorry if this wasn’t well articulated, it’s the jet-lag)


Learn about those artists that you’re interested in and find out who their influences were, you will find that they originate from the old blues players; with blues you don’t re-invent the wheel, you re-arrange it!
With blues your real aim is to create your own voice not try to emulate others; blues is emotional, different people express their emotions differently, express yours in your playing.

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Thanks for all the replies. Maybe the generation gap is biting on me. I can drool on the Rolling Stone version of Love in Vain and it is a different feel for me when I listen to Robert Johnson original version. That is what I am trying to say.

Well no offense to anyone and definitely I respect the Blues greats here no matter which era.

Cheers !

Its ok to not like the old delta blues etc, we’re all different.

But literally eervyone can learn about bending notes from BB.

Watch this and tell me if you can do it.


Hello @Crossroad and welcome to the community.

You have had very useful replies so far. The techniques, methods, essential skills for what you want transcend time and underpin all blues, whether blues from the early 20th century or from some of contemporary music’s most renowned players.

Justin teaches a comprehensive blues course here: The Blues Language | JustinGuitar.com

That is pitched at Grade 5 however and Justin does introduce some blues lessons before Grade 5.
Have you been learning guitar from Justin’s courses to date?

In Grade 2 …

Module 12: The A Minor Pentatonic | JustinGuitar.com

Module 13: Open 7th Chords | JustinGuitar.com

Module 13: Shuffle Grooves & Strumming | JustinGuitar.com

Module 13: 12 Bar Blues Progressions | JustinGuitar.com

Module 13: Beginner Blues Solo | JustinGuitar.com

Module 13: Blues Improv | JustinGuitar.com

Module 13: 12 Bar Shuffle Riff | JustinGuitar.com

Module 13: Blues Songs For Beginners | JustinGuitar.com

And the Blues Songs lesson description states (very importantly):

There are further blues modules and lesson in Grade 4 too.

If yes, did you start at Grade 1 Beginner course?
Or have you come for the blues lessons given your passion to learn that?


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I surf Justin Guitar on and off though. I am not new to the blues fundamentals and neither am I new to guitar playing. (If it is helpful in anyways, I have a classical background and a music theory grade 5). Transcribing music by ear, though not professionally, I still can manage. Picking up the nuances is another study. But do people care about nuances when eric clapton is playing onstage ?

My qn is of whether it is right or wrong to only pick up the refined version of a blues song and do you really need to know how the original version sound like, since the song has been refined into somewhat different from original version. Self enjoyment/personal interests aside, Is it worth the time to learn the original version ?

It depends on your available time, your taste and your character.
You name check Joe Bonamassa.
He is renowned for several things - having played for hours and hours and hours pretty much every day of his life from being a tiny child, being a total blues afficionado and student which means he has probably listened to and learned to play almost every song by almost every well-known blues player that ever lived, and, of course, having a massive collection of guitars and amps worth very much money.

To play like Joe you do not need to have learned and studied like Joe. All you need do is learn the fundamentals that he employs and give it your best shot and give it your own personal touch.

If Albert King and Muddy Waters don’t float your boat then spend your time on what you love. It is enough to know that they inspired and informed those that succeeded them in the tradition - a tradition that builds on what went before.

You may love to read and enjoy the novels of say, John Grisham, but Mark Twain doesn’t do it for you. That’s okay. You do not have to read the American classics to enjoy a gripping, modern courtroom thriller.


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Spot on. His sound was influenced by the artists that inspired him growing up as you can expect. A few of the techniques and stylistic approaches he picked up from Danny Gatton, Eric Johnson, Jimi Hendrix, B.B. King, Eric Clapton, and Jeff Beck among others.

The short answer to your question is, “No, you don’t need to listen to old Blues songs.”

I love the Blues, but I’m not a fan of listening to the old, poor quality recordings from the 60’s and before. So, I listen to SRV, Joe B., Kenny Wayne Shepard, Eric Gales, etc. I also listen to ‘blues rock’ like 70’s ZZ Top.

There are many old Blues songs I like, but I like listening to them when played by “modern” artists that take advantage of better recording quality and are a bit more rockin’.

In the end, the ‘modern’ artists are using the same chords, scales, arpeggios, triads, bends, vibrato, etc. that their forefathers did. I suggest you pick the techniques that you like the sound of and focus on them.

Hope this helps.


I just don’t like the blues- early or modern :roll_eyes:
Having said that, I can see easily see myself exploring that path in the future (eg. if I want to add any solos to my songs) and I’m sure the old masters’ techniques will be mentioned and possibly studied. You should be fine if you focus on the things you like :smiley:

Go stand in the corner for a few hours, I don’t want to hear things like that… just learn to love it… :thinking:
…together with my wife. :woozy_face:
I secretly practice when she’s gone :innocent: :grin:…(But then there is no sunshine)


This should answer your question


Yep, totally agree. Stick with the artists you like and the style you like.

As people have already said, you don’t need to listen to, or study, music that bores you or that you don’t like.

You will however need to be able to find true enjoyment in playing some really simple music to start with. Luckily there are lots of simple songs using the pentatonic scale and the blues scale.

Bonamassa is a cool modern blues player, but his playing style is very difficult… for many reasons. There is the speed aspect of course, but also his phrasing ideas which are often based around groups of 5 notes - which is very difficult on the guitar (for reasons that will fly over your head as a beginner :wink: )

Don’t give up your dream of playing like your heros, but also be realistic and start with more reasonable goals. Good luck!