The Blues Learning System is a DVD-based guitar course from the makers of Guitar Tricks, one of the largest online video guitar sites on the internet.
Unlike other specialized guitar courses, the Blues Learning System (BLS) works great for the absolute beginner guitarist. This is because the course is divided into 2 parts. The first part is "Guitar Fundamentals", which teaches all the guitar basics. The second part is "Blues Style", which gets into the more advanced aspects of blues playing. The course manages to be a very good beginner guitar couse as well as a great introduction into playing the blues.
In this review, we're going to share our thoughts on the course, discuss who it's for, what it does well, and if it's right for you. We'll also share a way you can get the Blues Learning System lessons at a huge discount! Read our conclusion at the end of this review for more details...
BLS comes with many standard helpful features like on-screen notation, and multiple camera angles to focus on the different hands. Video is generally high quality. You can access a handy guitar tuner, and play lesson jam tracks without leaving the DVD menus which we thought was rather innovative.
BLS is different than most DVD guitar courses as it uses multiple instructors. Three instructors in total are used, though one makes but a brief appearance. This means the teaching style and production quality is different for each instructor.
The fundamentals guitar teacher (Christopher Schlegel ) is energetic, concise, and good at explaining difficult concepts. His enthusiasm is contagious and makes you want to learn. His knowledge of musical theory was excellent, and his talks regarding theory made more sense than many other teachers I've heard. Personally, I think it's great that he didn't skimp on music theory in order to get the student playing basic songs as soon as possible, like other courses do. Knowing why you're doing what you're doing makes it easier to learn quickly rather than memorizing a bunch of notes in order to sound good.
Christopher quickly gets you up to speed on what the right and left hand's jobs are, gets you playing chords, explains notation, tablature, while building each lesson upon the next, until you are playing scales and barre chords.
In the fundamentals series of lessons, you eventually learn songs, such as "Land of the Rising Sun", but not all that many. Once you get into the blues section of the course though, you'll be playing lots more actual music.
On the negative side, audio was often a little distant and hollow, though it didn't greatly detract from the instruction.
The blues lessons are taught by talented guitarist Anders Mouridsen. These lessons have better audio and video quality, and focus almost completely on techniques relating to blues. You'll learn the basic 12 and 8 bar form, how to play slide guitar, turnarounds, intros, licks, riffs, and solos. You'll also learn how to play in the style of many notable blues guitarists.
While tempting, it's important not to get ahead of yourself, as new lessons quickly add new concepts and techniques fast and furious. Make sure to get comfortable with what the current lesson teaches before moving on. By the time you finish the blues section, you should have a great idea of how to play in the blues style and a library of knowledge of many blues techniques.
One complaint we had is that the videos didn't explain the advanced TAB notation found in the blues lesson videos. To do this, we had to refer to the lesson workbooks.
There are 2 workbooks included with BLS.
- Guitar Fundamentals (92 pp.)
- Blues Style (111 pp.)
As you move from lesson to lesson, you can follow along with the BLS workbooks. They contains supplemental information as well as sheet music to many of the exercises and playing examples. Sheet music is shown using both TAB as well as standard notation. Photographs are not used.
The course is not as polished or as well-produced as our higher-rated DVD courses, Learn & Master Guitar or the Beginner Guitar System, but those courses don't focus primarily on teaching the blues.
As a practice tool, don't overlook the jam tracks included with BLS. Contained in the 4 CDs are approximately 200 minutes of high quality background instrumentaion for you to jam along with. You also have the option of playing the jam tracks associated with each particular lesson right from the DVD menu. Conveniently, these tracks automatically loop.
None of the jam tracks include the lead guitar, so you'll have to provide that part. Thankfully, the instructors play along with backing tracks on camera, which is great to get a feel for how the complicated blues riffs should sound with accompaniement.
With our copy of BLS, we received a membership card which granted 30-days of free access to GuitarTricks.com, one of the largest online video guitar learning websites on the internet (Bonus valued at $14.95 - payment menthod required when signing up for trial).
BLS customers can also receive bonus software to use during practice. This includes the Ultimate Scale Finder, The Ultimate Chord Finder, The Ultimate Metronome, and The Ultimate Tuner. Windows & Mac software is available. Email submission is required to download bonus software.
If you have a question about the BLS material, there is a forum set up where you can post your questions. The forum is actually a sub-forum on the Guitar Tricks main message board, but doesn't have much activity.
The publishing company, Guitar Tricks, can easily be reached via email or toll free phone number within the USA.
Customers are given a 60-day full refund guarantee which is par for the course for online eductaion programs. Payment methods accepted are VISA, Mastercard, Amex, or PayPal.
BLS is fantastic for someone who has no guitar experience, but knows that he wants to focus on playing blues guitar.
Buying Tip: BLS was created by Guitar Tricks, which has over 5,000 video guitar lessons on their membership website. The video lessons on DVD are the same ones that are available on the website, with several important differences. If the differences are not a big deal to you, you may want to consider a Guitar Tricks membership instead of the physical Blues Learning System, which could save you up to 90%* (savings based on a 1-month GT membership).
Here are the advantages of getting BLS instead of a Guitar Tricks membership.
- DVDs contain on-screen notation
- BLS contains 2 printed workbooks
- High speed internet connection not required.
- You will have unlimited access to the DVDs forever
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Publisher: Guitar Tricks Inc.
Suitable For: Beginners-AdvancedWebsite Compare
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|* Bold indicates an Editor's Choice|
|** Grey text indicates course is discontinued.|
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