3 string slide course

The 3 string slide course will help you build the skills you need to play slide on a 3 string cigar box guitar. To that end each lesson has a dual focus with exercises for both left and right hand. Along the way you’ll learn a few songs and some theory will start to come together but remember your primary goal here is to learn to use the slide effectively and learn to pick the strings with your fingers.

Below is a short description of each lesson. Early on you'll focus on the relaxed repetition of specific movements designed to dissolve that awkward clumsiness that is inevitable for beginner players. Later on you’ll look at songs and blues riffs to play that consolidate these skills and reward all your hard work.

Each lesson page has a Q and A section so you can get in touch with me directly on any aspect of your playing


Keeping time with your thumb and using the slide

 An exercise to position your hand correctly and use your thumb effectively to play bass notes. An audio file contains a specific exercise for developing the all important ability to play in time.
 The second part of the lesson will show you the correct way to use a slide and to get your note in tune.
 Right from Lesson 1 you're starting on your first song, the Willie Dixon classic and a favourite of mine, Spoonful. Here you'll play the whole thing with your thumb in the bass.


Picking with your fingers and hitting your note

 The next lesson starts showing you how to pick with your fingers, again with the audio file that will get your time accurate. These exercises and the previous ones may seem elementary but constant repetitions are the best way to make these movements comfortable in the long term.
 The left hand exercise in this lesson will show you how to hit your note cleanly so that the pitch is accurate and we don’t hear too much of those out of tune micro-tones either side of the note you want.
 Spoonful again, playing the same line on the top string with your fingers now.


Alternate picking and moving the slide around the neck

 The first part of the lesson extends on the previous one with an exercise in alternate picking. Having learned to pick with each finger now's the time to practice using them together.
 The left hand exercise gets you playing consecutive notes up and down the neck.
 Working through Spoonful some more.


Picking with thumb and fingers and the Twelve Bar Blues

 Now you learn to play with your thumb and fingers together. This is where your discipline in previous lessons will reap it’s benefit. You'll also be introduced to an important technique called Palm Muting.
 Having learned to use your slide it's time to play some blues. This lesson introduces you to the 12 bar form.
 Now you'll put everything together to finish your first song Spoonful


Picking with thumb and fingers and the Minor Pentatonic Scale

 Continuing to build on your picking skills, now your combining thumb and both fingers.
 The second part of the lesson introduces you to your first scale, the Minor Pentatonic, reinforcing your sliding skills as you learn to move through the scale smoothly and with accuracy. You also learn about the crucial improvisational skill of phrasing.
 Two songs here that are much the same groove but offer different opportunities to work on your technique Folsom Prison Blues and Mobile Line


Vibrato and Straight Grooves

 Now you've got enough confidence with your left hand to start caressing your notes with vibrato, an important skill that really makes your guitar sing.
 And your right hand skills are strong enough to start learning some specific grooves. Here's where your early patience with the technique and timing exercises starts to reap rewards.
 Get rockin' with You Shook Me All Night Long by AC/DC


A practice routine for your Pickin’ and constructing a 12 bar solo

 Picking skills are fundamental and you never stop practicing them. It’s time now to pause and construct a short warm-up routine for your right hand that you should include in every practice session form here on. Combine all of the picking exercises up to now, one after the other into a short routine that you can use to warm up and keep your picking skills tight. There are more difficult exercises to come so make sure your on top of your game.
 The second part of the lesson gets you playing your first blues solo.
 I'm Tore Down by the great Freddie King is a great example of playing a blues with attitude, if I could only bottle this stuff.


Advanced Groovin'

 The first lesson here is an important exercise that will help you play a variety of rhythmic phrases consistently through a straight groove
 The second part of the lesson is another blues solo, building on the complexity from the last one..
 Play Twist and Shout with this lesson


Syncopation and constructing a Blues riff

 The first exercise gets you playing with a syncopated feel. This will challenge your picking skills and teach you an important rhythmic component of blues and contemporary music.
 The second part uses syncopation to construct your own blues riffs.
 The song here is Death Letter Blues by the great Son House


More Pickin’ and the 'Bo Diddley Groove’

 The right hand exercise gets you started with simultaneous picking, playing with your thumb and finger together. Up until now you haven’t been able to play a melody with a note on the downbeat because your thumb is playing there, all that is about to change.
 The second part shows you how to play the all-important Bo Diddley groove.
 Not Fade Away is the song for this lesson with versions that use a standard Bo Diddley groove and the variation that is closer to the original Buddy Holly version.


Advanced Pickin’ and Blues all over

 The right hand exercise extends the simultaneous picking exercise from the previous lesson by combing it with alternating picking in a very challenging little picking exercise. This is the last one in the course and represents a significant achievement on your part, congratulations.
 Another blues solo. This one includes all of the notes in the minor pentatonic scale and requires you to be right on top of your tab reading and your slidin’.
 The song lesson here is Amazing Grace, a great example of playing an independant melody over a steady bass line.


3 feels and more blues

 This one introduces you to 3 feels, along with syncopation an important legacy from West African traditional music. Now instead of counting 1 and 2 and 3 and 4.... You’re counting 1 and a 2 and a 3 and a 4 and a....
 Your next blues solo continues to build on your technical and soloing skills.


The shuffle feel and the John Lee Hooker groove

 Having learned to play a 3 feel it's on to the shuffle groovel, a very common rhythm in contemporary music.
 The great John Lee Hooker was one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century, a member of the Blues and Rock Halls of Fame. Here you'll learn the fundamentals of his hard driving rhythmic style.
 Having done that you can learn the solo that I play in the Blues video and hear the functions of each of these notes as they move through the 12 bar progression.
 The song for this lesson is the classic Robert Johnson tune Dust My Broom played in the famous Elmore James shuffle style.


Swing feels and the Charleston Rhythm

 The first part of the lesson is about the swing feel. These are best learned by listening to them so there and there a number of video and audio files on the site. It is also important to listen to the great swing players in Jazz, Blues and contemporary music.
 The second part of the lesson will get you playing a Charleston Rhythm.
 The song lesson here is Duke Ellington's It Don't Mean A Thing


Packin' Up

 The final lesson is an important summary of everything that you've learned throughout the course. It's time now to start again because everything you've already done will remain relevant and there's always room to improve your skills.