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Ragtime Guitar Lessons - Blind Blake - King Of Ragtime Blues Guitar

Updated on July 15, 2016

Blind Arthur Blake

The True King of Ragime Guitar Finger Picking

Blake was born in around 1893,  Jacksonville, in Florida and was presumed to have died  1931 (he actually disappeared). He made over eighty records and was a leading  ragtime blues guitar player. He is sometimes known as "The King of Ragtime ", due to his rapid and precise rhythmic playing technique.

Blake's Characteristic Keys

Blind Blake was a master guitarist in his style and had a very broad repertoire. He's probably most celebrated due to his syncopated guitar picking style that emulated ragtime piano, which was all the rage in the early part of the last century. Someone once said that acoustic blues guitar players tried to sound like a honky-tonk piano, but electric guitarists wanted to sound like a sax.

Blake's performances featured three basic types of songs or instrumentals, and all of these broad categories had small variations.

Key Of C

Blake's very first tracks were West Coast Blues, a bouncy tune without words, and Early Morning Blues on the other side of the disk. Performed in the key of C, W.C.B. is a fantastic masterpiece and laid the groundwork for following instrumentals in C. Rather unfortunately, many of the later pieces had much the same theme, with small differences. He set the standard very high to begin with and it was tough for to improve upon his first offerings.

West Coast Blues features most of Blake's trade mark techniques, like the heavy rhythmic bass strikes utilizing a 'slipping' thumb movement, rapid triplets using two or three fingers and very quick runs on single strings.

Open D Tuning

Possibly his most known piece is a song in open D called Police Dog Blues, played in Open D. Really fast and next to impossible to perform at the same speed as Blake, the song presents the base structure for most of his works in this key. This kind of picking later developed into the 'Travis' technique, after Merle Travis. Doc Watson was a master at this style and any student wishing to play blues should study his techniques.

Jim Plays Blake's 'Police Dog Blues'

The Key Of G

That'll Never Happen No More is a wonderful song by way of introduction to Blake's works in the key of G. It's not too fast and his 'slipping' thumb technique isn't used a lot. It does include other favorite Blake tricks, such as a complicated arpeggio style run down using fingers and thumb in the chord progression G to G7 to C to Eb7 in one of the instrumental breaks.

That'll Never Happen No More Blues Guitar Lesson - Blind Blake

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    • ladyguitarpicker profile image

      stella vadakin 3 years ago from 3460NW 50 St Bell, Fl32619

      Great I love the music.