1. Wow this is extremely well put and very insightful. Many people talk about ability but don’t mention emotional connection or confidence.

    I’ve played for years and always had ability and confidence to a degree, but it’s only recently that I’ve begun to make an emotional connection with what I’m playing. Having that connection and turning my brain off has taken my playing to another level. It’s very tough to do consistently though, but hopefully it gets easier with time.

    Thanks for posting this John. :) you’re a great player and your playing always speaks to me and I’m sure most others. It’s awesome that you manage to make that connection even while playing in instructional videos.

    Keep it up!

  2. I agree with you 100% put it this way, congratulations and thanks for so good ideas. But the question wasn´t right to me, you questioned for three things you must remember, instead of three things you must HAVE. Thank you very much for this lesson.

    1. Thanks for the comment Milton. I thought the same thing when I wrote it, but didn’t know how to change it until you made that comment. So now it’s changed thanks to you!

  3. I agree! How can you come up with a good song if you don’t have ability, emotional connection and confidence. Even if you have the ability and the confidence but lack on emotional connection the songs couldn’t turn out great.

  4. HI John,
    Credit to your insight!
    I must admit, most if not everyone play guitar because they are inspired by their hero’s.
    You have revealed secrets that were not available before the advent of the internet.
    Even the worlds best talent are influenced by someone and are affected by the basic elements that you have mentioned here.
    With a little understanding, direction and insight maybe future stars will gain the ability, confidence and emotional connection to inspire us all.
    Power to you!
    Thanks for the secret…
    Sutton Coldfield,

  5. Absolutely, all well layed out. And In the ability stage of practice practice and more practice, it’s so important that the reverse of 2 above is experienced I.e let your fingers talk to your heart. Experience the meanings of intervals, of sustain, vibrato as if it were language, only then could the reverse come out. This can be very difficult because there are so little guidelines of what to look for, and how to compile it all into vocabulary.

  6. Good article, John. I enjoyed reading it and I agree with you. This is a lesson we all need to keep in mind.

    I think of it as playing with passion. You are right, it isn’t always easy, but when you put in the effort–it pays off. Sometimes when I practice or jam with my friends, I think about the technical side of playing…the chords, song arrangement, my tone, etc. But when I have all of that down and just focus on playing from deep inside, it is magic.

    This is probably a Left Brain vs Right Brain issue. We need to learn to transition from one to the other to be our best. Perhaps this is the difference between those that are good and the truly great.

  7. I agree 100%, not only for blues, I thing is the same for any kind of music (Jazz, Gypsy Jazz, Rock’n Roll, Hard Rock, Heavy Metal, Jazz Rock, Funk, Rockabilly, Bluegrass, Country, Flamenco, Reggae, and…..all music)…

  8. So true! If you could only narrow blues playing down to three things it would be these!

    One thing I’d like to add though is that all music would benefit from less ego, because ego develops from ability and over-confidence but lacks emotional depth and connection.

    In true blues, there is no ego just genuine emotion. Great article!

  9. and when you’rre jammin’ with others there’s almost a spiritual connection that fills each person with an indescribable feeling due to all three of these. I rreally dig this blues site. Thanks John

  10. Outstanding 3 criteria. Should be a must to attach a label with these 3 musts when selling a guitar to someone or don’t bother.

  11. I have to disagree with you on this one point.

    Ability: how many bad guitar players are out there that can’t play well but people love them?……lots and lots….. Why do they love them?….because they can connect with the audience…they feel the blues and project that out….its the EMOTIONAL CONNECTION that counts.

  12. Absolutely Spot on by me! My art teacher told us that anyone can learn to paint or draw if they work at it, and after that it’s how good you are at “composition”, for your work to be captivating.
    It’s sort of the same thing with music, once you practice up and achieve #1 (a proficient vocabulary of ability) it’s #2 (phrasing & composition) i.e. the emotional connection that are inspiring to both the player & listener. As for #3, when playing live, you can definitely psych yourself into playing sloppy & making mistakes by not being confident and that can foil the whole gig like a steamroller, and the fumble fingers then take over. It’s good not to spend any energy second guessing yourself when you’re in the middle of it, that almost never turns out well.
    I think Derek Trucks is a great example of a guitarist who has all 3 of these skills down, almost to the point of perfection.
    Thanks for laying it all out here for us John!

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