The Blues Shuffle
Howdy buckaroos!! I can’t believe I haven’t mentioned anything about the blues shuffle. . That swung, rockin’ rhythm is the reason I wanted to play guitar. The other day I was checking out the newest King’s X album and low and behold there it was. Granted, it was in low B, and lower and chunky as hell. But it was still your plain old blues shuffle, and just as cool as ever. So let’s give it a shot.
Let’s start with the A power chord (which is actually just the interval of the root and a 5th). First, put your 1st finger on the 4th string, at the 2nd fret. This will be your anchor finger. Leave your 1st finger anchored and hammer your 3rd finger, still on the 4th string, at the 4th fret. Rock the 3rd finger on and off every other strum. When strumming, you want to hit only the 5th and 4th strings together. Try muting the strings by resting the back part of your palm on the bridge of the guitar. Strum in a swung eighth note pattern. As Always, start slow and focus on control and accuracy. (You know, the shuffle sounds like on “Takin’ Care of Business”, or “Johnny B Goode”. Start with down strokes and then try to get it going using alternating down strokes and up strokes.
Now try the same finger pattern on the 4th and 3rd strings. That will make a D blues shuffle. And then try the same finger pattern on the 6th and 5th strings making the E blues shuffle sound.
A D E
For intermediate players I think it’s important to strengthen that pinkie. The pinkie needs to be used and strengthened. As Hanz and Franz would say, “You’ve got to pump * it * up!” I think the best way to do this is by playing the standard three-finger, open chord position and reaching out to the fourth fret with your pinkie. C’mon you can do it. OK, maybe for the A chord you might want to bar the notes on the 4th, 3rd, and 2nd string with your 1st finger, but try the pinkie on the “shuffle” note on the 4th fret.
For D and E just use the standard three finger forms and reach out to the “shuffle” note.
One way to fill up the harmony in a blues shuffle is to add the 7th in the mix and open up some strings. Begin with a standard open A7 chord. Put your 1st finger on the 4th string at the 2nd fret and your 2nd finger on the 2nd string at the 2nd fret. (When strumming omit/avoid the 6th string.) Now instead of a shuffle note we’ll change or slide to the shuffle chord. Simply slide your 2nd finger, on the 2nd string to the 3rd fret and put your3rd finger on the 4th string 4th fret. This is an A sus13, I think. Heck, I don’t know but it sure sounds cool.
For E7, start with your open E7 chord and then slide your 1st finger on the 3rd string to the 2nd fret and put your 3rd finger on the 5th string at the 4th fret. Strum away on all 6 strings because this chord sounds just as cool as the A.
Good luck and keep on pickin’.