Beginning Blues Guitar – What is the Ragtime Blues and Why Is It the Best Blues To Play

by State Library and Archives of Florida

When beginning blues guitar you must learn that blues music is far more complex than it seems. This is why it is important to choose a specific blues style and pattern your music after it. One of the specific styles recommended by blues experts is the ragtime blues. To find out why it is the best blues style to play, you can find out more details below.

What is Ragtime Blues?

When it comes to producing blues music, even the smallest details that musicians include could go a long way. This is a lesson that many have learned from the so-called blues guitar master, Gary Davis. Several musicians who wanted to learn more about blues music included Gary Davis and ragtime blues in their study, which has led to a great deal of success.


One of his songs in particular, Candy Man, is recognized as one of the best examples of ragtime blues music. When he is playing this song with his guitar, Gary Davis uses only one finger and his thumb when picking the guitar. However, this is just a glimpse into the techniques that practitioners of ragtime blues use to produce their own song.



Gary Davis: Ragtime Blues Master

Gary Davis made a name for himself by mastering the ragtime blues style. Those with an ear for blues music will easily recognize his songs due to their complexity and diversity of musical elements. It is quite impressive how Davis managed to preserve his skills despite all these years. Unlike other blues musicians, he took a break from playing but he never fully let go of playing blues. Instead, he started again after re-discovering his blues skills and has managed to become really successful throughout his musical career. He showcased his style by making records and performing in live gigs. He also managed to pass on his techniques to other aspiring blues musicians including Stephan Grossman.


Learning Davis’ Techniques

Gary Davis uses only two fingers to pick on his blues guitar: his thumb and forefinger. And yet, these two are able to produce a wonderfully rich sound. This forefinger naturally moves quickly and is independent of his thumb’s movements. He also uses picks instead of his bare fingers because it is far more accurate in producing the desired sound. Another crucial component that makes Davis’ ragtime blues music stand out from others is the thumb beat timing. You must also be quick in moving your thumb such that you can easily switch treble strings to create the illusion that more than two fingers are used at the same time.

Allure of Ragtime Blues Music Until Today

The classic Candy Man song from Gary Davis is something that will forever be embedded into the history of blues music. It is one of the perfect examples of ragtime blues music, as far as structure goes. You can therefore follow the patterns of this song or some of Gary Davis’ musical patterns in general to replicate his own musical style. Another important tip to consider for beginning blues guitar students is to have fun. Learn to enjoy this process and take it easy. If you can begin by enjoying the music itself, then you will find it easier to learn and develop enthusiasm into the learning process.

Want to become a legendary blues guitarist?

Becoming a great blues guitar player is not an easy ordeal. It takes time and patience! When beginning blues guitar there are many methods to help you learn. Learn the tricks and techniques used by the classic bluesmen.

If you’d like to play like the old masters read on at

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