Sunday, December 28, 2014

Blind Blake - Down The Country - Jim Bruce Cover

Blues Guitar Lessons

"Blind" Blake (born Arthur Blake or Arthur Phelps, around 1893, Jacksonville, Florida; died: 1933) was a prolific ragtime blues singer and guitarist. He is known "The King of Ragtime Guitar". He put out around 80 songs for Paramount from 1926 to 1932. He was an accomplished guitarists of his style with a astonishingly diverse repertoire. He is well known for his rhythmic guitar sound that sounded like ragtime piano. Unfortunately, here is only one photograph of him existing. Not a lot is known about Blake. His place of birth is shown as Jacksonville, Florida by Paramount but that its not certain. On one song he lapses into a Geechee way of speaking, which could lead us that he was from the coastal region of Georgia. Nothing is known of the circumstances surrounding his death and we are not even sure of his correct name. According to some, his proper name was Arthur Phelps, although there is no real, written evidence of this. The "Phelps" name probably came about after he responded to Blind Willie McTell in a conversation in 1955 in Atlanta, where Blake was never reported to have frequented; neither did Willie McTell ever live in or near Chicago. However, many of Blake's tracks were copyrighted by the name 'Arthur Blake', and during his recording with Papa Charlie Jackson, "Papa Charlie and Blind Blake Talk About It", the following words are clearly heard: Jackson: What is your right name? Blake: My right name is Arthur Blake! Ragtime Guitar Master He first recorded in 1926 and the sold really well. The very first solo track was "Early Morning Blues" and "West Coast Blues" was on the other side. These are great examples of his guitar technique and are the basis for the growing Piedmont blues style. Blake last entered the studio in 1932, Paramount's bankruptcy accelerated the end of his career . People often say that the later songs don't have the same 'panache'. By all accounts, Blind Blake drank a lot during his last years. Maybe this caused an early death at 40 years of age. Nobody know how he died; Reverend Gary Davis thought that Blake was knocked down and killed by a streetcar. Blake's complicated and delicate finger style has been the inspiration Reverend Gary Davis, and many others. Blake's Amazing Guitar Finger Picking Technique It's not known if Blake was taught by a previous master, or how he formed his idiosyncratic playing style. Of course, many guitar players had a complex and rhythmic guitar technique, but not many were so accurate and quick as Blake. In his musical presentations, regardless of the key, the formations he used were often strikingly simple. His left hand fretting fingers were good at damping the bass string sound and that movement is vita when finger picking rapidly. It seems to me his picking hand (the right) was the most important, but of course both hands coordinate to make that wonderful sound. His finger picking patterns could be separated into these parts – rolling thumb strikes , rapid finger triplets and single string runs picked with alternating thumb and finger. It’s true that other players had these techniques, but Blake used these techniques continuously throughout his songs, forming complicated and syncopated combinations. His thumb action in should be a particular subject of students starting to learn how to play blues guitar in the ragtime blues style. Many guitar players know the picking pattern called ‘alternating bass’. However, Blake would roll his thumb between two bass strings, forming two beats instead of one! Also, he could change the picking pattern and reverse it in mid flow, which exemplifies Blake's incredible dexterity.

Monday, December 22, 2014

How To Learn Blues Guitar - Truckin' Little Baby by Blind Boy Fuller - Free Guitar Lesson

I started out playing Bind Boy Fuller tunes 40 or 50 years ago - don't really remember, and Truckin' was the one that fired me up. This complete lesson is my Chrsitmas gift to you - use it wisely, as it's powerful stuff!

As usual, Like it, Embed and it and generally Share the hell out of it.

Very best to you
Jim Bruce

Monday, December 15, 2014

Jim Bruce Blues Guitar - Deep River Blues and Search The Desert

 My blues guitar lessons here

 For this clip I play Deep River with a twist, adding 'Search the Desert' by Willie McTell, but played in Travis style picking.

Take it easy See you soon Jim

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Acoustic Blues Guitar Lessons Online - New Orleans by Jim Bruce

Acoustic blues guitar lessons -

New Orleans is a very 'Lightnin' Hopkins' style song that I wrote a few years ago - it's in E, easy to play and has that elusive 'old' sound.

Class will be held Saturday 13th December, 2014 at 5:00pm WET (That's Western European Time - Check Your Time Zone Carefully Before signing Up!) That's 12 Noon in New York, for example 5:00 pm in UK, 6pm in France ... you get the idea. Take it easy and keep on pickin'

Best, Jim

Friday, November 28, 2014

Jim Bruce Acoustic Blues Guitar Lessons Online (Again!)
Email me here:
Skype Me: jimbruce31

This online class costs whatever you want to pay (but aim for $5) and includes guitar tab. Just sign up, tune in at 17:00 Central European (that's 12 noon NY) Saturday 6th - don't forget your guitar, and I'll try to remember mine! I also have a class on Sunday, same time, for complete beginners looking at a simple monotonic bass action.

Best, Jim 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Acoustic Blues Guitar - Mike Russo - Staggerlee

I don't often re-upload old videos, but this is just great. Mike Russo is right up there with Broonzy and Gary Davis IMO. I'll be putting out a lesson for this version soon

Acoustic Blues Man Goes To Lisbon ...

It's been a while - I've been busy in more ways than one!

We've been in Lisbon, Portugal for a couple of weeks now, and I'm starting to explore places to play, and other opportunites for teaching acoustic blues guitar - I'll be posting a Youtube video soon with details of some proposed classes.

It never fails to amaze me that it's always possible to find stuff and artists that you've never heard of before, like Mike Russo. Who's he? Well, one of the best swing type acoustic bues playes I've ever heard. He's right up there with Broonzy and the great Reverend Gary Davis.

I'm currently going through his repertoire, and I'll be basing some classes in this kind of style soon.

If you'd like to be informed, just leave your name and email address in the contact form to the right (I won't bother you with silly mails or spam you, it's all about the music.)

Check out this video of Mike Russo - it's in two parts, in the second part he plays 12 string - bloody hell!

Part 2

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Day In the Life Of A Blues Man - Swinkel's Swing - Jim Bruce Blues Guitar

Looking back through my videos it struck me that the videos form a kind of journal, each set of videos marking a stopping place in my traveling life and presenting music of a certain style. Also interesting is the fact that I often create, produce and then forget the stuff I create! 
This tune came out, I played it once for the video and then never played it again I can't remember how to play it, or even how the guitar was tuned! I do remember living on Swinkel's Farm in my camping van for 3 months one winter - hence the scarf! 
At the same period of time I was making a living playing on the street an happy as Larry, as they say - you don't need that much to make you happy. Take it easy Jim 

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Acoustic Blues Guitar Lessons - Death Letter Riff -

Discussion about Son House and his guitar playing style in Death Letter, with quick tips about just one way of playing that famous riff.

You can also use one of the links above to view the Ebay auction where I'm offering my old Aria guitar. UPDATE: The guitar was sold very soon after this post! Thanks a bunch!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Acoustic Blues Guitar Lessons - Jim's Pickin' Tips - Gary Davis' Hesitation Blues

Not really a lesson, but more some thoughts about how I play hesitation Blues now and also in the past. Take it easy 

Friday, August 15, 2014

Acoustic Blues Guitar Lessons - Lady Madonna Part 2 - Jim Bruce

Last week we looked at the walking bass part of Lady Madonna and found that the thumb and finger parts are pretty easy. The tough part is putting them together! After that, you should find the second part a piece of cake.
Give me a shout if you'd like the pdf to download, and also any request you might have for other short lessons. Best Jim 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Acoustic Blues Guitar? Let's Plug In That Old Cigar Box Guitar ...

Acoustic Blues Guitar Lessons Still doodling around on the old CBG - got quite carried away for a minute or two. Best, Jim

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Acoustic Blues Guitar Lessons - Thumb Control Lesson #23 - Lady Madonna


Acoustic Blues Guitar Lessons 

I think I only played Lady Madonna once in public. It's away from my usual acoustic blues guitar style and I've lost the touch a bit after not playing it for a year or so. It's great fun to play and also a good way to improve thumb control. Whatever finger picking guitar style we prefer, thumb control is going to improve whatever we do. For example, it allows us to be more creative and maybe walk up the basses instead of alternating bass strings or just hitting one bass string all the time. Don't get me wrong - some of the best acoustic blues guitar ever uses a monotonic bass line, but it's good to explore all the possibilities. There's nothing difficult in either the bass or melody lines, but putting it together is a challenge which brings heaps of satisfaction. All you need to do is practice and make that godawful decision - do you want a social life or work towards being a guitar god? Ah well, life's never simple.

Acoustic Blues Guitar Lessons

Take it easy, have fun Jim

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Acoustic Blues Guitar Lessons - Blind Blake's Guitar Tips

Acoustic Blues Guitar Lessons 

You could think of ragtime blues guitar as the pinnacle of acoustic blues guitar finger picking, and Blind Blake would be the King of the genre. It's not just his blinding speed, but the syncopation he achieves with fats finger triplets and also his amazing rolling thumb basses - we can have a stab at how he does it, but trying to perfect it takes years (I'm still trying). 

Even when he's not playing fast guitar, he still manages to create that bounce. Did he wear picks? Who knows? There's not much we do know about him, except that he left some of the finest examples of ragtime picking ever recorded. 
Keep it real Peace Jim

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Acoustic Blues Guitar Lessons - Some Dylan Picking


Blues Guitar Lessons

Buckets of Rain - The story goes that Dylan was performing around Greenwich Village, and mostly strumming traditional folk songs mixed with his own works. He went away for a while and came back with a brand new finger picking style (bit like the R Johnson story). Buckets of Rain is one of his finger picking songs which I always liked, so I've posted it here.

It's in dropped D, easy to play and the tab file is added at the end of the video - the trick to get is singing at the same time. Have fun, Jim You can pick up the guitar tab file at the end of the video.

Best, Jim

Acoustic Blues Guitar - Live From The City Streets - Candy Man

Blues Guitar Lessons

Not exactly studio conditions out there on the street, but it really, really gives me some idea of what it was like for those blues pioneers who had no choice.

 Peace, Jim

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Acoustic Blues Guitar - 'You Can't Cross Here' by Jim Bruce

Blues Guitar Lessons I wrote this song some time ago, well, quite a time ago actually. I was playing around with video techniques at the time, but it looks a bit crappy now. Still trying to figure out what the words mean, but that's how it is sometimes - a song just comes out and seems right at the time. Anyway, I like the way the song moves along - and it's nice to see the old Reverend Bavery again ... Cheers, Jim Acoustic Blues Guitar Lessons

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Acoustic Blues Guitar Lessons - Seasick Steve Style


Acoustic Blues Guitar Lessons

 Seasick Steve's version of Lonesome I could Cry is a masterpiece of understatement (whatever that means). Played in open D, it's easy to play - the challenge is to try and make it as powerful as his version - try it out! There's a link to the tab at the end of the video.

Best Jim

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Acoustic Blues Guitar Lesson - Seasick Steve Style

Acoustic blues is mostly a feeling, and we can try to capture for years without getting close, concentrating on technique and those subtle little tricks that will do the job for us. Other folks make it too pretty and complicated until it's just not real any more.

Every now and again someone comes along and nails it, without hardly trying. Seasick Steve isn't the best guitar player out ther, but look what he does with this old Hank williams song 'So Lonesome I could Cry' Stick with the video to the end when it goes to youtube and you'll find a link to the tab file;

 Best Jim

Monday, July 7, 2014

Cigar Box Guitar Original - Jim Bruce Blues Guitar - HeeHaw!

Blues Guitar Lessons In this video I'm playing a Leo Wojcik custom cigar box guitar (message me for details). Leo sent it to me to try out and as I'd never heard anyone play such a beast before, I thought I would experiment without listening to others. That way you're not copying subconsciously. This is one of the tunes that came out and I'll be posting others over the next week or two. It's tuned to open G (same as the middle four strings of a six string guitar when it's tuned to open G). Cheers, Jim

Friday, July 4, 2014

Acoustic Blues Guitar - 3 Blind Blake Song Covers

Blues Guitar Lessons 3 Blind Blake Songs: Southern Rag - Diddie Wah Diddie - Too Tight Blues

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Sittin' On Top Of the World Doc Watson Style (but in dropped D)

Blues Guitar lessons I got an email asking if I could play Sittin' On Top Of The World Doc Watson style, but in regular tuning - saves tuning guitars up and down, and Doc's version is in open D. Compromised a little and came up with this dinky little tune in dropped D - click the annotation link to get to a lesson download. Best Jim

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Jim Bruce Blues Guitar - Big Bill Broonzy From The Street

Blues Guitar Lessons It's a living .... Best Jim

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Guitar Shuffle by Big Bill Broonzy (Cover)

Blues Guitar Lessons Can't match Big Bill - but we can try.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Blue Day Blues From the Street - Scrapper Blackwell Cover

Blues Guitar Lessons Scrapper's blues are perfect for the street - here we go with Blue Day Blues, a little tune in A. From the center of Toulouse, France; Cheers Jim

Sunday, May 11, 2014

My Edited Video

I created this video with the YouTube Video Editor (

Blue Day Blues From the Street - Scrapper Blackwell Cover

Blues Guitar Lessons Scrapper's blues are perfect for the street - here we go with Blue Day Blues, a little tune in A. From the center of Toulouse, France; Cheers Jim

Friday, May 9, 2014

Blues From The Streets Of Toulouse

If you happen to be in Toulouse at 4PM sat 10th May, you'll find me in Capitole Square playing for an hour or so. Can't get there? Watch it streamed live here Take it easy, Jim

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Blues Guitar Lessons LIVE! Ragged and Dirty by William brown

Live Guitar Lesson Broadcasts Blues Guitar Lessons

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Blues Guitar In the Garden ... Jim Bruce goes Live (Almost)

Blues Guitar Lessons Live Class Spring is here and this video comes from the garden shed. just pottering about really.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Blues Guitar Lessons - How To Play the Blues With jim Bruce

Blues Guitar Lessons This clip opens with a famous song by Big Bill Broonzy, the Chicago Swing Blues King - I thought it would be fun to jam along with Bill and so I 'videoed' myself playing in the same key in black and white. It sounds an easy thing to do, to play blues guitar like Broonzy, but I learned a lot from setting up this clip. First of all, the speed has to be just right. One of my own particular weakness in finger picking guitar is that my timing can wander, often speeding up as the song progresses. Broonzy's timing is of course rock solid - he was an expert guitarist and a blues master. Next, I recorded myself playing the song and compared it to the original - no, just didn't sound right but why? How do we learn to play acoustic blues guitar like Broonzy, He uses a monotonic bass pattern for his thumb work, which isn't unusual. What is unusual is the way in which his special brand of blues music just swings along. It's almost supernatural, as his finger picking was extremely accurate as well. It's obvious that something else is going on here as well as his solid thumb strokes. Many people finger pick Broonzy style wih a couple of fingers, or even three, but you'll notice that he uses just one. This is a feature of many of the master blues guitarists, such as Gary Davis, Doc Watson and Lightnin' Hopkins, to name just a few. The sound comes across as complex as his one finger moves around and fits in 'grace' notes between the main notes. When you listen very carefully, you can hear all the little added notes that make it swing -- my lessons show in detail how to do it right. Well, once we can play it, and we have the timing right, how does it compare now? Not bad, except that the old recording isn't such great quality, as the waveforms are a little 'clipped'. I edited the raw sound file a little, and came up with something that's pretty close -- it was a lot of fun anyway! Blues Guitar Lessons

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Jim Bruce Blues Guitar Master Class - The Blues In A

Blues Guitar lesson Online - The key of A is possibly used even more than the key of E in acoustic blues. It offers plenty of versatility and lends itself to a variety of techniques. Each blues man approached this key in different ways, often depending upon their local region and the influences of their fellow blues men - the work of the most creative blues guitar players was copied without mercy! In the hands of someone like Lightnin' Hopkins, a blues in A becomes something with a power and depth that needs some work for us modern guitarists to make authentic. We have to start somewhere, and technique is where we begin. In this class I take a look at Lightnin's tricks in the key of A, and also compare the approach to Johnson and Scrapper Blackwell. Blues Guitar lesson Online -

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Jim Bruce Acoustic Blues Guitar Classes Streamed Online

Online Blues Guitar Class Online Blues Guitar Class (can use Paypal) In this first of a series of live master classes, I pull apart a slow blues in the key of E and show how to make it come alive! The blues in E is simple in form but gives a guitarist some challenges - how do you make a three-chord song sound fresh and exciting? If you want to play blues guitar at a higher level than the 'rest of the crowd', this series of Master Classes online is designed to take you home to the roots. The class comes complete with pdf guitar tab and video download of Jim demonstrating the techniques in slow motion - it doesn't get any better than this folks! Whatever your level, there's something here for you. Keep a lookout for the next in the series - tune up ready to play the blues! Take it easy and cheers, Jim

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Jim Bruce Blues Guitar - Death letter Cover of a Son House Original

Blues Guitar Lessons Tried to improve the sound on this old video - it's nothing like the original by Son House, but I had a great time thrashing it out! Best, Jim

Friday, February 7, 2014

Profound Blues Guitar Lesson Here - Sounds like folk, but it's all blues ... that's the lesson!

Free stuff I used to play Dylan's music, amongst others, when I was a kid and foolishly separated music into 'folk' and 'blues' etc. Later on I learned that it's all blues ... Enjoy - peace and love Cheers Jim

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Jim Bruce Blues Guitar Lessons - From Texas To The Delta

Jim Bruce Blues Guitar Lessons 50% Off! - This is a promo video for the launch of my blues guitar lesson videos on Udemy, a streaming video platform which is great for PC, iPad, iPhone and Android devices. The complete pack comprises 40 detailed blues guitar lessons lessons with tablature and Youtubers can get it for half-price for a limited time (not decided yet how long!) Support from my Youtube subscribers and fans has been enormous for me over the past years - here's my thanks ... Best, Jim

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Jim Bruce - Ragged and Dirty - Willie Brown Cover

Blues Guitar Lessons Doodling around with the Luna guitar I won in the Truefire Top Guitar Instructor competition - thanks for all who voted. This is a quirky little blues number that's really fun (and tough) to play and sing. Cheers Jim