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Table of Contents

Introduction ................................................................2 r

How to Use This Book ............................................. .3


Introduction
Many blues scholars think blues fingerpicking
originated in the Mississippi Delta, but there were
TWELVE-BAR BLUES also strong Negro blues traditions in Texas, the
Carolinias, and other locations in the Jim Crow
Mudslide Blues ..........................................................4 South. In fact , there is no way to know precisely
where the first fingerstyle blues solo was played,
Canepole Catfish ........................................................6
much less who played it. What is important is that,
Zuba ............................................................................ 8 from the time of its inception, blues fingerpicking
has endlured to become a mainstay on the acoustic
Backwater Blues ......................................................10 music landscape. As we enter the new century, the
fingerpicking blues guitar style maintains a
Red Pineapple Blues ............................................... .12 healthy followi ng of enthusiastic devotees-pickers
and fans-who stubbornly resist the ever-encroach-
Mississippi Moan .................................................... 14 ing, powerful electronic entertainment industry
that labors daily to eradicate all music associated
with tradition , individualism, originality, and feel-
EIGHT-BAR BLUES ing.

Wh1en I started playing in the 1960s there were


Bullfrogs for Breakfast ........................................... .16
very fe:w blues fingerpicking instruction books
Salty Dog Blues ...................................................... 18 availablle (my main "instruction book" was a reel-
to-reel 1tape recorder, slowed down to half-speed).
Saint James Infirmary ..............................................20 Today, transcriptions are available on almost all
the major blues guitarists; still, the beginner is
often UJnderstandably bewildered by the complex
picking patterns and eccentric rhythms played by
ONE-CHORD BLUES STYLES IN E developed stylists. As a result, the folks at Mel Bay
asked me to prepare a collection of easy
Shakedown in Natchez ............................................23
Mississippi Delta blues fingerpicking solos for you
Howlin' in the Canebrake ........................................23 pickers who are just getting started. We have
endeavored here to provide arrangements that are
easy to understand, technically accessible, and fun
to play.
SIXTEEN-BAR BLUES
It is our sincere hope that this book will " blow
Careless Love ..........................................................24 the blues away" from the learning process, and
help maLke the sun shine in your back door some-
Midnight Special ......................................................26 day.
Larry McCabe

INTRODUCTIONS & TURNAROUNDS Boones Mill, Vrrginia

Guide to Symbols ................................................... .30

Swing Eighths ..........................................................31

Additional Mel Bay Titles by Larry McCabe ..........32

2
How to Use This JBook
The Written Music
1. The songs and examples in this book are arranged in the two-part guitar notation style. In general, the melody
part is written with the stems up, while the bass part is written with the stems down.
Most of the bass notes are played with the thumb of the picking hand; exceptions are indicated in the music.
2. Each example is also written in tablature for non-readers, and for clarification of fretting positions.

3. Notation symbols are explained on page 30.


4. With the exception of "Salty Dog Blues," which is played in "straight time," all the music in this book should
be played using swing eighths.
Please see the explanation on page 31 if you are unfamiliar with ithe concept of swing eighths.

Technique
1. Suggested fretting-hand fingerings are provided in the notation s:taff. The recommended fingerings are not
absolute, and you can modify a particular fingering if you have a better idea.

1 = First finger; 2 = Second finger; 3 = Third finger; 4 = Fourth finger


2. Fingerpickers often mute the bass to create a percussive accompaniment sound. To mute the bass, cover the
low E, A and D strings with the side of the picking hand near the bridge.
3. Performance notes and helpful chord and fingering diagrams accompany each song.

The Companion CD
1. A long "A" tuning beep is provided on track 1 of the companion CD.

2. The CD, recorded in stereo, is mixed as follows:


The drums are on the left channel.
The guitar is on the ri~ht channel.

3. Although fingerpicking blues is usually played without drums, you will find that the inclusion of drums on
the CD will help you with the timing of the music. If you wish, you may remove either the guitar or the drums
by turning down the appropriate speaker.

4. Each song is recorded twice-the first time at slow speed, then at medium speed.

Procedure
Be sure to study the Guide to Symbols on pages 30.

The first two solos, "Mudslide Blues" and "Canepole Catfish," arie the easiest songs in the book. Learn these
first, then work through the rest of the material in any order. If you encounter an example that is too difficult, try
a different song, then return to the more challenging piece later.

3
''Mudslide Blues"

E7 A7 B7, 0 x
0 ox x o xoxo 0 X2

0 0

"Mudslide Blues" is a great first solo . .. it's almost all open strings!
This song is a twelve-bar blues. Twelve-bar blues is the most popular blues form , with the majority of all
blues songs being twelve bars in length.
The bass line (stems down) is in the alternating bass style. Miost alternating bass parts consist of a note on
each beat. This simplified arrangement contains a bass note every other beat. This will help you learn the
technique of alternating bass in an easy manner.
In fingerpicking , it is not always necessary to hold down "complete" chord forms, even if the chord symbols
appear in the music. "Mudslide Blues" uses only the chord "fragments" shown in the above diagrams. This
makes things easy on the fretting hand.
This song is based on simple picking patterns; there is no dis1tinct melody here. Pick the treble (stems up)
notes with either your index or middle finger.

The Chord Dia1:rams


X means "do not play this string." No fingers are required on these strings.

0 means "play this string open."


Fretting fingers are numbered as follows:
1 = first finger (index finger)
2 = second finger (middle finger)
3 = third finger (ring finger)
4 = fourth finger (pinky)
We do not strum these chords. Instead, we pick out the bass and treble parts, as shown in the music/tab on
the next page.

4
~ Tracks2&3 Mudslide Blues

E7 E7 E7

-
'-'
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1
v v
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A
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v
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10
0

A7 A7 E7 E7
5
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0 0

v v v

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87 87 E7 E7
9

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fl ~ ff ! I I f I I ! ,J J J
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- I =1 1
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v 0 0 0
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c. 2
2 2
0
-0
I 0
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:I I

5
"Canepole Catfish"

"Canepole Catfish" uses the same picking pattern in each measure, but the chord fingering (or shape) is
played at different frets throughout the tune.
Play the alternating bass line (stem down) with the thumb.

The m-i-m picking pattern (see measure one) is used for the high part (stems up) throughout the tune.

Chord Shapes
The C7 chord shape is used for all three chords in "Canepole Catfish." Fret each chord according to the fin-
gerings shown above the chord grids. Start with C7:
The first finger (index) frets the second string
The fourth finger (little) frets the third string
The second finger (middle) frets the fourth string
The third finger (ring) frets the fifth string

Reminder: The "x" (above strings one and six) means "do not play this string." No fingers are required on
these strings. Play only strings 2, 3, 4, and 5.

The number to the right side of each grid shows the lowest fret in each chord. Play C7 at frets 1-3; F7 is
played at frets 6-8; and G7 is played at frets 8- 10.

A chord with no open strings is called a closed chord. Closed chords are moveable shapes that can be played
on any root tone. For example, if you play the above chord shape at frets 3-5 you will have a D7 chord (D7
is a whole step, or two frets , above C7). Another example: An E7 chord could be played by forming this
chord shape at frets 5-7.

6
~ Tracks4&5 Canepole Catfish

C7 F7 C7 C7

r ~ ~;a ~ r ~ r ~
~JJ 1$

3
2
3
3
1
2
8
7
8
8
7
--3
-2
3---3
-1
2
I 3
2
3
3
2g
F7 F7 C7 C7

~f:J
r ~ r ~ r
1$ ~f:J
~
6
7
8
8
6
7
8
6
7
8
6
7
3
1---1
2
-3
3
2
13
1
a
3
1

2d
G7

~f:J
r ~ I~ ~ ~ r =I I

8 8 1---1 8 8
10 -3
~o
8
10
9
10 8
7
8
7
3
2
3
2
110
9 9
:II
C7
13 ,.,
-
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~ ._,
I
.
.
" "
u ~ -

1
3
2
- 3
"Zuba"

D7 G7 A7
x 0 2 13 3XOO I XO 3 0
0 0
0 0 0 0
0

"Zuba," like "Canepole Catfish," uses the same picking pattern in every measure. In this song, however,
open-string chords are used.
"Zuba" uses the basic D7 and A7 chords. The basic G7 chord is slightly modified for this arrangement.

The following open strings, though shown on the chord grids, :are not actually played in this song:
The open fifth string of D7
The open third string of G7
The open third string of A7
However, it is easier to leave these strings open than to try to mute them.
Mute the fifth string of G7 by slightly leaning the ring finger iin the direction of this string , so that the flesh
of the finger lightly touches the string. This is a standard mutintg technique for th is chord.
The bass notes (stems down) are played with the thumb as follows:
The bass for D7 is strings 4 I 3
The bass for G7 is strings 6 I 4
The bass for A7 is strings 5 I 4

It is often a good idea to first practice the bass (low) part in isolation, before attempting the treble (high) part.
This usually makes it easier to learn the bass and treble parts simultaneously.

8
~ Tracks6&7 Zuba

07 m 07 07 07

~? r iF ~? r

=========:=--1-=-2~~-:~::~-=:,,_-_1-=_2:=-2~==0-=-:-=-_1--=-:==-2~=1=0==:-1-:19

G7 G7 07 07

r
J
? r I~ @? r
1--1 1- - 1 2-- 2
2 2--2
0 2~
1 1
2 2

3
-0
lo
3 3 3

A7 A7 07 07
9
.,
'4i u
. '"
!
-ri- r~
I !
--ri- r .J
I !
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t) -
r
-
r -
r
-
r -
r r -
r
-
r r ?r I 0
=11

2 - 2 2
I
v v

0 2
2 1

- 2 2 v
2 v
2 v
2
lo :I

9
"Backwater Blues"

G G G7 c 4x C7 D7

m3
3 2 0 0 4 XX2 x 4X x X3241X

u
0

1
0 11 ll2 1
4~

2
4~
4t
4. 4.

The vocal-like melody of "Backwater Blues" requires the fretting hand to "slip around" many of the chord
forms. If you are accustomed to playing mostly strummed rhythm guitar, your concept of chords will be expand-
ed quite a bit while you learn to fingerpick. In fingerpicking, the fretting hand is often "on the move,'' and not
"glued down" to the chord of the moment.

No picking-hand fingerings are suggested for this song. Drawiing on your current fingerpicking experience,
work out the picking according to what feels right to you. Tip: Traditional players often use the index finger
for most of the treble notes, with the middle finger used to help with runs of successive eighth notes.

The following performance notes will help prepare your fretting hand for our arrangement. Measure num-
bers do not include the pickup measure; measure 1 means the first full measure.

G Chord
Measure 1: The first beat is played with form 1, minus the midldle finger. The third beat is played with form
2, minus the middle finger.

Measures 3-4, 7-8, 11-12: Keep the third ft nger "planted" on 1the sixth string while playing the bass line in
these measures.

G7 Chord
Measures 1 and 5: A little piece of the G7 chord is used on the second beat of each of these measures. There
is no need to hold down any notes in the chord that are not played.

C7 Chord
Measures 2 and 6: Lift the fourth finger after playing the first lbeat in each of these measures.

Measure 10: Lift the little finger after playing the melody note on the third beat.

C Chord
Measure 5: Use strings five and one from form 1 on the first beat; form 2 is used on the second beat. The
technical na.me for form 2 is "C add 9 ."

07 Chord
Measure 9: Play the 07 chord as shown in the grid above.

10
~ Tracks8&9 Backwater Blules

G G7 C7 G G

- .. -- - .... .. '!.I .. -J -
r rr rr r r rrrr rr ~ r
j~ .Iii L.
iJI
I 41

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-.... ... ....
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- ~ =$0 I -........- ~ - .... ....
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- . 3-1
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~1
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-
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ft :;: v
v v 0 0
3 3 3
2 2 I3 2

C (G7) (C) (G) C7 G G


5

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41

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3-1
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3
v - -3 v v v

3
v--2--5
3
2
3
2
3
-0
2 2 I 3
2--0

07 C7 G
1~-
9
--
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I ~ J.I 11 ....I ....I ....I _ I ! - 4 4

-
.... - - - -'-'
... -... ... ....
-.... -....
.._
I- -==-
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=1 1

rrrr rr
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3r r r r
Shift hand

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3- 3- 3- 3 3
0-0-3 v v
2
-
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4
5
4
3
2
3
3
2
0
2 I3 2
0
2

G7
I:\

,___-----1--

" - - 3.- - - - - _ _ . _ . .
11
"Red Pineapple Blues"

G7 G7 G7 C7
3XOO 3XO 0 X3

mr
0

0 0
l 2 3

C7 C7 D7

mm II 11
3

2 3

"Red Pineapple Blues" contains a fair amount of syncopation in the form of melody notes being played on
offbeats. Nonetheless, the song should be fairly easy to play if you study the music carefully before attempting
to play the whole song .

A good way to get started would be to go over the following notes on the chord positions:

G7 Chord in Measures 1 and 2


1. Begin with form 1.

2. Pull ("snap") the index finger away from the first string to play form 2 .

3. Add the little finger (4) to the second string to play form 3 .

G7 Chord in Measures 3 and 7


Follow instructions for measures 1 and 2 (above), then ...

4. Remove the little finger from the second string to play form 2 again.

C7 Chord in Measures 5 and 6


1. Begin with form 1, playing the bass line plus the treble note on the second string.

2. Pluck the third fret of the third string (see form 2). It's o.k. to leave your first finger on the second string (see
form 1) while doing this if you wish.

3. Remove your little finger from the third fret to play the open third string . Again , you can leave the first fin-
ger down on the second string if you wish.

D7 Chord in Measures 9 and 12


The D7 chord form shown above is used in measures 9 and 12. There is no motion in the fretting hand while
this chord is played.

After playing D7 in measure 9, shift down two frets to play the: C7 chord.

12
~Tracks 10 & ll Red Pineapple Blues

G7 m G7

r
3
-~=- ==~===3=,_- : ~__--=-!._~-~=~--~~--=~-3=,_- =_--=_
_~ !. .-_3-=--=---- --+-l o-_-_3=--1-~__,~
3:- -----31----+--2 3 0 0
0
::::
'-" -==--==
3 _ -_-3 - - 3_ _

C7 C7 G7 m m G7

'L. ll~,~ -J
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5 m ,.......
, fl ~ ' .. -.- - -
~ 4,.......
........ ' - -- -~
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-

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r i r i r
'-' lJ

- ,j ~i
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i i r r r Shift
freuing
hand

3
1
-2 -
v v

3
-'"
3
1
3
2
v

3
2
3
i 3

3
0
0
0

I 2-3-4~
3

07 C7 G7 07
9
fl ~
-! 'n- --r-1-..... _-I
m
I ~ 41
m
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3r 21 - r I- 3j
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2r
-
i r
-
-
3r 2rr 1j fi 1J
Shift Shif1 Shift
fretting fretting fretting
hand hand hand

-
v
3
4
-
v

-
v
3
4
3
1
3
2
1

3
2
3
2-3-4 Is
3
4
5
5
3
4
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13
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3
13
"Mississippi Moan"

A
0 0 2 l 3

04 o

"Mississippi Moan" is based on typical blues melody lines heard in many songs.

Practice the melody line separately before addin~ the bass. Listen closely to the CD, humming with the
melody, to make sure your concept of the melody is accurate. Make up words for the melody if this will help
you memorize the melody.

A Chord
The only chord form that is held down in this song is the A chord (see above).

Measure 1: Add the little finger to the second string, third fret, on the "2 and" beat. Remove the little finger
on the thfrd beat.

D7 Chord
Measures 2, 5, and 6: The descending melody notes E-D-C-A do not require a "fixed" hand position.

The bass for D7 is very simple, requiring only an alternation of the fifth and fourth strings, respectively.

E7 Chord
Measures 9 and 10: The fretting hand is kept "free" (no fixed chord forms) for both E7 measures. The bass
is a simple monotone bass on the sixth string.

Measure 10: Slide the ring finger to the fifth fret of the first s1tring on the first beat. Shift the fretting hand
back to the basic position after playing the open first string melody note.

14
~ Tracks 12 & 13 Mississippi Mo1an

A A i m i
m

-r r

07 07 A A i m i
5
u ~
- -
I\
m

- I 3t-...
_,
-
m
~
-
.
I
I

- r -
m
I
-
_,I
m
-
I

-r
I
I m
- 91.
h~ I
' ,I

t.J
r r r r rr

r
...
r --
r
r r r --
r
I
r
-
~
v v
3-1 3-1

v
2
v v
2 2
v
,.,
.

-0
2
Io
2
0

E7 E7
mi m i m A

- H h.J -I --J -I.-- I


~ h ~ -ot\_-ri
3
I m I

-I I m

~
9

b
m
fl u / i 91.
-
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- u
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-- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
r r -- r r r -- =11

r r r r r r r r r r
3---0- 2-0 ,5- 3

~
v
3-1
2
2 2 2
-
v - - -
v -
v - - - v
0
lo 0

13
fl ~ H
1~ i
A

- 4 hi. ~
m

-
r -
.J - .
~' ,1
- -
t.J -
r r -- r - -
r r~~
3-
2-
2
2 2
v v

15
"Bullfrogs for Breakfast"

I XXX 0 OXXXl oxx ox

0
1 2 3

OXXXX3 OXXXXI OXX XO

filfil: ~:
4 5 6

"Bullfrogs for Breakfast" is an eight-bar blues. "Key to the Highway," "Stagger Lee," and "Trouble in
Mind," all blues standards, are also in the eight-bar form . " Bullfrogs for Breakfast" is a monochord (one chord)
song, using only the E7 chord .
Although the harmony is E7 throughout, we never actually hold down an E7 chord in this arrangement. You
might say we' re working around E7.

Measures 1-5 are played in the third position. Have your first finger on or near the third fret of the second
string (see form 2, above) when you start the song.
The chord forms above (#1-6) show the playing positions for tine first five measures:

Measure 1: Play form 1, then form 2, then form 3 (see lthe music/tab, next page).
Measure 2 Is the same as measure 1.
Measure 3: All six forms are used in this measure, in numerical order (1 -6). Play a pull-off to get
from form 4 to form 5.
Measure 4 is bass only, but leave the fretting hand in third position.
Measure 5 is the same as measure 1 and 2.
Shift the fretting hand to basic position in measure 7. Fret the third fret of the second string with the ring fin-
ger.

If necessary, isolate and practice separately the pull-offs in measures 3 and 7.

16
~ Tracks 14 & 15 Bullfrogs for Breakfast

E~ m i a m i

- -
- - -
- -
- -
---
---
- -- -- --
- --
---
rr rr rr rr r r rrrr
---~~it---~~~~-~~~~1~~~-s:=:a--0

~---~--+--~-:--13,:~===~ I ~
a m i a m a m i ~
5
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- I ......1r-i - I - I ......1r-i - I - qfJ=J
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- -- -- - - -- - -- - =I I
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-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- - -- --
r r r r r r r r r r r r rrr
I - 3 - -
3 3--0 I
'~
v v v

~
v

---v v .., v v -0 0
2
:I

17
"Salty Dog Blues"

C A+7 A7

I Im I

Let me be your Salty Dog,


Or I won't be your man at all;
Honey, let me be your Salty Dog.
"Salty Dog Blues" is a "hokum" blues- lively, and usually accompanied by wry, humorous lyrics. The great
Memphis jug bands of the Depression era played many hokum songs. In fact , most every well-known blues
musician plays at least one song in this style; Robert Johnson 's contribution was called "They're Red Hot."

There is quite a bit of syncopation in this song, in the form of upbeat melody notes. However, the sim-
ple picking patterns will feel quite natural once you have practiced them diligently.

A+7 Chord CA "au1:mented" seventh)


Measure 2: Start the measure with this chord, then lift the first finger from the first string on the "2 and" beat
to produce the A chord.

D9 Chord
Measures 3 and 4: Hold this form down and play the picking pa1ttem as shown in the notation. Shift smooth-
ly down to G after playing D9.

G7 Chord
Measure 6: There is some left-hand movement "around the chord" here. Lift the first finger so that the
melody note on the first beat is played on the open first string, tfhen hammer from the open string to the first
fret.
Add the little finger to the third fret, second string on the "3 and" beat.

Be sure to see the bass variation, written below the music on the follow ing page, for measures 5-6.

18
~Tracks 16 & 17 Salty Dog Blues
Traditional "Hokum" Blues

c A+7 A7 09
m m m

i i
Shift hand
i------~____,u-~~---u~~~~~-y-1-------0---~~~~~~~~~~~~~~----.

::;;: =:=~=~=--=::=_-=_-=--=- :-;,=._=- =--=-=--=-~=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=::::~:~=~=-2=============-==--o-=-o=


-=-
-==
- ========:
:1 =:=====-5===_4==-==-_3~=-: - =-.: -_5- =-=-=-3-=~- =-~-=-4= = = .: : ~
09 G G7
m m G7

4
3

5
Shift hand

4
3 3
-0
I
g 0
0

0
3
0

7
I~
c
i
1~ - - ,,I .
-. .. . .- ,,,,
.
~

-- r
- -- - -
-a
~

t)
i I I
i r i r -&
m
I

-1
i
- II
v v

-3
~

3--0---2
3
:113
Variation: the following bass line
may be used in measures 5-6. If you
use this bass line, fret the notes on
JO the third fret with the pinky.
f-i
,-
r
'\.

t) -
3r r r-
I

v v

I
~
3 3
19
"Saint James Infirmary"

"Saint James Infirmary," also known as "Gambler's Blues," is a minor-key blues in the eight-bar form. The
following arrangement, played in A minor, uses the three main chords in the key: Am, Om, and E7.
Although there is nothing real tricky here, the following notes will help you get your fretting hand ready to
play the solo. References to measure numbers refer to full measures; the pickup measure (the incomplete meas-
ure at the beginning) is cited as such.

Am Chord
Pickup measure: Hold down the Am chord before you play the pickup notes.

Om Chord
Measure 3: Shift the fretting hand from the Am chord to the fifth position to play the Dm chord. This is a
"fingerpicking" Om chord- a "partial chord," if you will-and you need only play the strings shown on the
above grid. Be sure not to play the open third string, or the chord will really sound out of tune.

E7 Chord
All the measures that use this chord require only a partial fingering of the form shown above.

Measure 1: It is not necessary to hold down the third string for JE7 in this measure.
Measure 4: No need to fret any notes here , except the notes in tlhe bass fill-in.
Measure 5: Same as measure 1- no need to fret the first fret on the third string.

Measures 7 and 9: No need to use the little finger on the second! string.

Pickini:-Hand Tips
The picking-hand thumb can play all the bass notes (stems down). Variation: Beginning on the second beat
of the fourth full measure , play the bass notes in that measure "daw-style": p-i-p-i-p-i.
Many blues players would use only the index and middle fingers to pick the melody notes. Remember, the
picking-hand fingerings shown in the notation are only suggestions.

20
~Tracks 18 & 19 Saint James Infirmary
Traditional Blues Song

Am E7 a Am
m a m a m
i m
...h
i
. -r-i
I~
_r I
., -
.
f'i
-
I

- ..
.. - - 41
-- ~; ~ I
~

t)
~

-
r 21 -
-- r r r -- -
r r 4r

...
I 1 . v
1
v
"....
~)

"
2
. 2
1:
2
2
-
;..,;:
v

v
2
0 3 I

Am E7 Am

1 - - - - - - - + i - - - - - - 1 1 - - -- -- - -- - 1 - - 1- 3 - -- -1- - - - - - - - - t
1--- - - - - - - - - - - 1 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -- - -- - 2 -- - - 2
1-----:r---------11--+---2-3-2-f ~----- ~----+---2---2

E7 Am E7 Am
a m a m
,., I m I m

- ..- -
r--i I r--i
-- fJ --J
I I

I~.
I

-
'
~ I
- -
-- -- --
....... :;
r.J
- -- .~ II
r -- r - r - r -
r r r r r r r
t)

r
.
I~
,___1- -1 1 1--1-0

v
2
1
2
"c.
v
2
v
"
2 . "v
2
1
2 II
v 0

21
22
One-Chord Blues Styles in E
A number of Mississippi-style blues use only one chord throu1ghout the song. These one-chord blues songs
are often played in either E or E mfoor, keys which can produce a rather "dark" and ominous sound. The har-
mony (chord) in the examples below is written as E7, but it actually wavers somewhere between E7 and Em.

~ Tracks 20 & 21 Shakedown in Natchez


E7 m m p m p m

1-+~~~~~~~-3---3~~~~- 3~---t----~3.~~~~~~~~~~~~~-tt1
..._~~~~~~~~~~4~~~~-4~~~--~~4.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~--t11
r--------- ---
l. The picking-hand pattern is shown as most traditional blues fi:ngerpickers would play it. You can also play
a-m-i (ring-middle-index) for the "reverse roll" pattern on sttings 1-2-3.

2. Hammer from the open A string to the B note on the last beat of the second measure. Review the Symbols
Guide if you are not familiar with this technique.

~ Tracks 22 & 23 Howlin' in the Ca1r1ebrake


E7 m m p p
! gI ?I i i p
,,"' ~ +f,_ ..-- .. -_I- ..
I ii
.. -.. --
- -
,_
I
.....
-
--
- ..... .... -.....
v
..
.. -
1-1 ., -

t,.I
'
-- -
- -
....

Pu u

...
I
~

I 5 3 3
2::;:::;:--"'-4 4---==:-2-0
-
.0.

~
-
2
:I
1. The double-stops (two strings played at the same time) on beats 2 and 3 of measure one are pinched with
the middle and index fingers.

2. The remaining melody notes (stems up) are played "claw style" with the index finger and thumb of the
picking hand.

3. The diagonal line indicates a slide. Be sure to review the Symbols Guide (page 30) if you are unfamiliar
with this technique.

23
"Careless Love"

A D

Ill
E

I
A7 A13

"Careless Love" has been a favorite of jazz and blues musicians for generations. It is also well-known among
folk and bluegrass pickers. W.C. Handy, the "Father of the Blues," called his adaptation of the song "Loveless
Love."

Fingerings for the picking hand are given in the " modem" style. Many blues fingerpickers would pick all the
melody notes with only the index finger. Others would use a combination of the middle and index fingers.

Notice the little "fill-in" licks in measures 8 and 16. Though simple, the fill-ins help to avoid the monotony
of playing only the alternating bass for an extended period.

The A13 chord (above) is played at the end of the song.

Please note the following modifications for the A and D chords:

A Chord
Measures 5 and 9 , fourth beat: Add the little finger on the third fret of the second string . This finger can be
removed on the next beat.
Measure 6, third beat: Add the little finger on the second fret of the first string. Remove the finger on the
next beat.

D Chord
Measure 12, fourth beat: Remove the third finger from the second string, and play the string open.

24
~ Tracks 24 & 25
Traditional Country Blues

.- - .
fl M +t -
A
m
I I
E
m
.-
i m
a
I
A
i
A

-
r r r I-r r r r
....
Tl r~

-- -.....
---
- - I
2r- ---
" J
II

r r r r t
'
- r - -
t)
r r
...
-- -
2~
I 2 v
1 1 2

Io
I\. ~
2
' 2 2 2 2
v v 2 2 - >-{} 0 0
v v

A A E E
5

-
'
fl M+t _,
- [l
J

l'.J .
I m
41
--
a

-I -
I
I
m
~
- -I
p
m
-
- I
- I
'- -
r 2r
-
-
r
-
r r
-
r -
r r
-
--
r i~
--
r r [f/ r r
v
-- v

2~
2 3 2 v

- 2 2 2 2 0:-2---<>
:2 2
v v v v
v ---0 lo

A A A7 D D
m a m a m
9 I l

-
"' ,,
~Mff ~ 1 J
,~.
41
-.... l'.J.
I
.._-
I
-J. I
-....
I

l'.J .
....
-
I

- - -
r r r r r
-~

tJ
r 2r -
r r r r r I - - r -
r r
- 2

I~
v

~
2 3 3
v
2 2 2 -0 0 0
v v v v v 0 0

A E A A A A13

-
(E7)
13
f\
."' . , -
M +t J
m
I I
I

-- ---
m i m

- -
a
....
I
.. -
i
..
. --
- --
- ..---
.
.
u)r
r.
~

---
- .... - -
rrrr r
I

t,.I

r r 2r r - - r -
r r r r -e- v

2
2

v
2
v
--
~ 1

v
-
2
1

v
-
2
2
v
2
v 2-i A-o
2 :IL
2
0

I
25
"Midnight Special"

D G A7 A7

ljs
X020, ) XOl230
!

mm mm 0

1
-~
2

"Midnight Special" has been played and recorded by countless folk, rock, country and blues groups-and
even orchestras and gospel quartets. Recorded by Leadbelly, Johnny Rivers, Creedence Clearwater Revival and
many others, "Midnight Special" is a great song that is enthusiastically received wherever it is performed.

To fully understand the music, learn to study the arranging concepts. Try to figure out how certain licks can
be played in different places, for example. Learn how the chordls are built, and be able to name the notes in
each chord. A good theory teacher can help you with these fundamentals. Eventually, you will want to apply
your knowledge to songs of your own choice.
By "arranging concepts," we mean things like alternating-bass patterns, chord positions, the use of slurs
(hammers, pu11-offs, slides, etc.), the phrasing of the melody, the melody and fill-in licks, and so on-in short,
just about anything having to do with the creation of the music ..
Don't rush the hammer-ons (pickup measure; measure 8; measuire 9). Relax and play in a confident, smooth
manner.
The following comments on the chords will help prepare your fretting hand for our arrangement. Measure
numbers do not include the pickup measure; measure 1 means the first full measure.

D Chord
Measure 4, third beat: Lift the ring finger from the second string so that the open string can be sounded.
Measure 8: The middle finger must be lifted from the first string on the "2 and" beat, then replaced by ham-
mering from the open string on the third beat.

G Chord
Measure 1: Lift the little finger from the second string on the "'2 and" beat. Replace the finger on the "two
and" beat of the following measure.

G6 is the technical name for a G chord with an open first string.

A7 Chord
Measure 6: Shift from A 7, form 1, to A7, form 2 (see above). Form 2 is technically known as A 13, but the
notation for thirteenth chords is often simplified in the written music.

26
~ Tracks 26 & 27 Midnight Spe cial 1

l:
l
;

.
t
G a m a
.,.
.
~

- -
r r
1

F
2
.3
3
0

3-
-0
13
0
3

; 3
0

m
D D A7 i
m a m a
3
.- ~ u i t - i
I
IJ. bJ
-
'

~
II

r r r i r
- -
i r ~ r r r r I

v ~3
g
2 2-2
v
v - v
0
~)
I: 2
0
2
I
1,~,

f~
A7 m D
3-n -
i
m a
-ll -I -
6
,.., u t

~
i
- -
- -
...
~
-
It =I I
'-'II
~J

r
LI
r
T
r i r r -
r r
v v ~
7 7 3
-
v
~

-OJ
-
v
5
-0-0---0 lo
0
0
0 :II

1~
a
m
D
9
- i

!~~
f'i u i
-
-,., -
II
i----- ---
n
' .,

i
r
Q
tJ
r -
r qr ~r \!I
p i.....___,- p
3
- - ~
-
-v
v
.
-v
/
1
>..
L.
v-
v

I I
27
Introductions & Tur1narounds
r

The term turnaround refers to a chord progression, or chord movement, in the last two bars of a section
of music. Not all songs contain turnarounds; "Mudslide Blues," for example (page 5), has only one chord in
its last two bars (measures 11-12). We could say that "Canepole Cattfish" (page 7) contains a turnaround , since
two chords are used in measures 11 -12. The turnarounds shown below contain several chords and are closer
to what a professional blues guitarist would play.

In blues songs, a turnaround (if used) is played in the following measures:

Measures 11 -12 of a twelve-bar blues.


Measures 7-8 of an eight-bar blues.
Measures 15-16 of a sixteen-bar blues.

The following turnaround progressions and licks can be applied to many blues fingerpicking songs, in the
measures indicated above. These turnarounds can also be used as. two-bar blues introductions at the begin-
ning of songs.

Key of G ~ Track 28
E~7 07
m m
c
fl M..
G G7

- Ctlciim7 G
! 3
3 ~
-

' -'

u
I
..
.
-
r
p
r
p
r
p
~r
p
r
p
~ ~~
p
rr-
p
II

'T'
3 2
I 2 1
3 2

-
ll

""' 3
2 n
~ 4 II

Key of A ~ Track29
A A7 D F7 A E7 qi
i
! I
2
1

'
I _I I
. . -..
-u fl M M

~~
I

....--- -
I .I
,,
-
-
~

-I
u

"
-
-
-- II
'rp
1
I I
r
f. 1
p p p 2qr r
p p
p
~
g 3 4 3
.., 1
4 3 2
..,
II
~

3 0

Tip: Enhance your versatility and understanding by learning several fingerings for each chord symbol shown
in these turnarounds. You can learn many forms for each chord in Mel Bay's Deluxe Encyclopedia of Guitar
Chords (93283).
28
Key of E ~ Track 30
E E7 A7(b9) Am E 87
..--3---, ..--3---, ..--3 --.,

- II

========~~~~~~~~~-~~~~~~-~=---=-~_-_-:_-_-_~-=--~-~~~~~~~-I
.--1=========-0----1==--2----_-_-_-----~--fl-til
Key of c ~Track 3 1
a
C
,--3--,
C7 F Fm C/E G7 ryl
1

i
1 i
.-
'
fi

,,
..
"
-
a1 m~

- ......-
-
I

--
I

I-
I

-
.... II
t)
r r I r r
'--3---...
&~ -f
1
1 1
3
2
2
3 3
1
2
8
3 3 1
3 II

Key of D ~ Track 32
07 A7
D G Gm DIA

-
j - - 3 ---,I
,-
~

:F'
ri ~
., , - . u ,

'.&F II
D r D pr
'
t)
r
'--3---1
D qi1.---3--' .____3___.
D ip
-
.____3---'
p p
p i p i ' - - 3 ---'
p i p i

3
v -
v v
1 8
3 2 1 -0 II
r
For more blues turnaround licks and chord progressions, see. the fo llowing Mel Bay book/CD sets by
Larry McCabe:
JOI Essential Blues Progressions (98339BCD).
101 Mississippi Delta Blues Fingerpicking Licks (96241BCD).

29
Guide to Symbols
Frettine-hand Fin2erin2 Pickin&:-hand Fin2erin1:
1 = First finger (index) p == Thumb (pulgar)
2 = Second finger (middle) i ==Index finger (indice)
3 = Third finger (ring) m =Middle (medio)
4 =Fourth finger (pinky) a== Ring (anular)
Th =Thumb

Each of the following techniques represents a certain type of slur. A slur


causes two (or more) notes to sound with only one "attack." The fol-
lowing slurs (hammers, pulls and slides) are used in this book.

Hammer (or Hammer-on)

l . Play the open Enote with the middle finger of the picking hand.

2. Hammer (slam) down the first finger (fretting hand) to sound the F note.

Pull (or Pull-off)

I . Place the first finger of the fretting hand on the F note .

2. Pick the F note with the middle finger of the picking hand .

3. Pull the index finger away from the F to sound open E.

Do not merely lift the finger in a passive manner; instead , pull the finger
away from the string with a '"snappy" sideways motion.

Slide

l. Place the third finger of the fretting hand on the G note.

2. Pick the G note with the middle finger of the picking hand .

3. Slide (glide without lifting) the ring finger up the fingerboard to sound the
A note.

Tip: Slurs can be combined. For example, it would be possible to strike


an open string ("Attack"), hammer to the second fret , then pull-off
back to the open string. Result: one attack produces three notes.
30
Swing Eighths
For ease of reading, all of the eighth notes in this book are writte:n in "straight" (or even) time. However, each
pair of eighth notes actually sounds like the first and third notes of an eighth-note triplet.* This swing eighths
effect is a hallmark of blues and jazz rhythms.

The comments that follow will help you understand the timing of swing eighth notes. In addition, listen
closely to the companion CD to fully grasp the concept of this rhythm.

Example l is written in straight time; however, it sounds like Ex. 2 when interpreted with swing eighths.

Ex.1 Ex.2
r--3 ----,


'"'II
~

.,.,. - - .-- -
I I

-'
I

~
I

-
- - -
I
,---3--.

- -
I
... _
. .. "
--
-.1___,
-
~
-,. -
I
I
t.I I" I I

-I 1--1
3----0-3
1--1 1 1
3-0--3
1--1
...."
~
II

When we play Ex. 3 with swing eighths it will sound like Ex. 4.

Ex.3 Ex.4 a m a
a m m ~3___,
a .-----3----, ,..__3
----..
..
.- .
II. ~
-h 1I
-
-'
::1
--
~
I~
~

- -I !
-h IJ :/) !J .h--J
'" ,,
t) -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
II
r r r r r r r r
- v ~ 0
3 3 3 3
4 4

v v -v v --0 0 0 II

Tip: Swing eighths may also be called "jazz eighths," lazy eighths," or "shuffle eighths."

*Exception: "Salty Dog" (page 29) is played in straight time.

31
Additional Mel Bay Titles h:y Larry McCabe

101 Amazing Jazz Bass Patterns (97336BCD) 101 Red-Hot Bluegrass Guitar Licks and Solos
(99445BCD)
10 l Bad-to-the-Bone Blues Guitar
Rhythm Patterns (97760BCD) 101 Re d-Hot Bluegrass Mandolin
Lic ks and Solos (99446BCD)
101 Blues Bass Patterns for Bass Guitar
(95330BCD) 101 Red-Hot Swing Guitar Licks
(el,ectronic download) (97335D)
10 l Essential Blues Progressions (98339BCD)
10 l Three-Chord Songs for Guitar, Banjo,
10 l Essential Country Chord Progressions
and Uke (99476)
(99043BCD)
Famous Blues Bass Lines Qwikguide4P
l 01 Essential Rock ' n' Roll Chord Progressions
(98429BCD)
(99182BCD)
Famous Guitar Lines Qwikguide
101 Kickin ' Country Rhythm Guitar Runs (2lll42BCD)
(98 13 lBCD)
Music Theory 101 (99393)
101 Red-Hot Jazz-Blues Guitar Licks and Solos
(98338BCD) You Can Teach Yourself-1' Song Writing
(94823BCD)

r
Become a fingerpicking superstar with this additional Mel Bay title by Larry McCabe:

101 Mississippi Delta Blues Fingerpicking Licks (book/CD set- 9624 1BCD). Without a doubt, the
world's finest collection of authentic-sounding blues fingerpicking licks. 4-bar licks, 8-bar licks, turn-
arounds, and lots of helpful tips. All 101 licks are played at a :moderate speed on the companion CD.
~ ~

Most titles are available as book/CD sets; all guitar and bass books contain both notation and tablature.
32
ABOUT THIS BOOK
Mississippi Delta Blues Fingerstyle Solos
Made Easy
by Larry McCabe

This book and audio recording have been carefully prepared


for guitarists who are starting to learn blues fingerpicking-
and yes, the book can actually be used by an ambitious total
beginner. The arrangements, written in tab and standard
notation, include new blues songs, standards, introductions,
turnarounds, and more. All songs are recorded note-for-
note on the companion audio, making this unique set the
perfect teacher for the emerging fingerpicker. Audio
download available online.

Toll Free 1-800-8-MEL BAY (1-800-863-5229)


Fax (636) 257-5062
email@melbay.com

$14.99
ISBN 978- 078- 668-915- 6
5 14 9 9

$14.99 USO