V is for… Vibrato
Great vibrato is an essential part of any blues guitarist’s trick bag. It’s far more important than speed.
When mastered it makes the guitar ‘sing’ and minute fluctuations in pitch help you sustain a note during a solo or lick. Choosing which notes to sustain is the thing that separates the legends from the bedroom warriors. Vibrato comes from the wrist and takes a bit of practice to develop the right touch. Keep practicing and it’ll come.
This clip of BB King playing Blues Boy’s Tune is a masterclass in using vibrato with taste.
V is also for… Violence
Whether they were singing about it or at the centre of the action, violence was an everyday part of a Delta bluesman’s life. Take Robert Johnson. Apparently poisoned in 1938, Robert is said to have left this world on all fours, howling like a dog. His hero, Charley Patton, survived having his throat cut (and eight marriages).