Fingerstyle Blues and Ragtime

Genre and Style Guitar Course from Eric Madis

Eric Madis covers a uniquely American style of music, the Blues. In this series he tackles the subject from the acoustic fingerstyle perspective and even throws in a bit of ragtime for good measure.

46 Lessons

Complete course with step-by-step lessons and practice examples.


Course filmed with 6 cameras for the perfect angles.

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Full Course Breakdown

In this series, we will learn different styles of the blues genre, and study the bluesmen who brought them to us. In addition, we'll learn the core techniques of the blues that will give us all the tools we need to play this style!


The Rolling E Blues

Eric Madis introduces his Fingerstyle Blues and Ragtime lesson series. After the introduction, he starts things off with a bang by teaching "The Rolling E Blues".

14:13 Runtime

2.0 Difficulty

View this Lesson

The Rolling E Blues Phase 2

Eric Madis expands on "The Rolling E Blues," which he taught in the last lesson. This time around he adds information to make the arrangement more complex.

8:35 Runtime

2.0 Difficulty


Monotonic Bass

Eric Madis introduces the concept of monotonic bass lines and gives an excellent exercise for practicing the technique.

7:24 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


The Rolling E Blues Phase 3

Eric Madis returns to the wonderful world of "The Rolling E Blues" and demonstrates how the arrangement can be made a bit more complex.

6:23 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


The Rolling E Blues Phase 4

Eric Madis returns to "The Rolling E Blues" and teaches an even more complex variation.

5:33 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


Robert Johnson Style Blues

In this lesson Eric teaches a Robert Johnson style blues.

9:56 Runtime

3.0 Difficulty


Robert Johnson Style Blues Part 2

Eric Madis returns with the second part of his lesson on the Robert Johnson style blues.

10:51 Runtime

3.0 Difficulty


Blind Willie McTell and the Piedmont Style

In this lesson, Eric Madis talks about the Piedmont blues and the musical stylings of Blind Willie McTell.

12:54 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


Blind Willie McTell and the Piedmont Style Part 2

Eric Madis returns with the second part of his lesson on the Piedmont style and Blind Willie McTell. This time around he makes the arrangement a bit more complex.

8:52 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


Improvisation Opportunity

Eric Madis demonstrates some opportunities for improvisation within the Blind Willie McTell/Piedmont style arrangement he taught in previous lessons.

11:59 Runtime

3.0 Difficulty


The Memphis Diads

Eric Madis introduces a series of diad patterns he calls "The Memphis Diads" and shows how they can be used as chord substitutions.

11:06 Runtime

3.0 Difficulty


Idea Application

This time around, Eric takes the ideas from the past few lessons and ties them together effectively within a blues progression.

8:23 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


The Style of Mississippi John Hurt

In this lesson, Eric Madis begins teaching the style of Mississippi John Hurt. He talks about the signature syncopation technique Mississippi John Hurt used and discusses playing with the G chord.

12:12 Runtime

2.0 Difficulty


The Style of Mississippi John Hurt Part 2

Eric Madis takes the ideas taught in the last lesson and expands upon them. He talks about taking these ideas and playing melodies similar to what Mississippi John Hurt would have played.

9:59 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


Robert Johnson Theme

Eric Madis begins teaching a common theme in the style of Robert Johnson. This theme will span several lessons. This time, Eric teaches a signature turnaround that gives the theme its flair.

5:29 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


Robert Johnson Style Blues Part 2

Eric Madis continues with the Robert Johnson theme. This time, he finishes up the first variation of this 12 bar blues arrangement.

8:20 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


Robert Johnson Theme Part 3

In this lesson, Eric teaches a brilliant variation to the Robert Johnson theme taught in the last lesson.

6:39 Runtime

2.0 Difficulty


Robert Johnson Theme Improvisation

In this lesson Eric talks about improvising using the Robert Johnson theme he has been teaching in the past few lessons.

11:04 Runtime

2.0 Difficulty


The Rolling E Blues Phase 5

Eric Madis takes knowledge he has taught in past lessons and applies it to an update of "The Rolling E Blues" that features exciting improvisational variations.

4:48 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


The 7th and 9th Chords

In this lesson, Eric Madis talks about using the 7th and 9th chords in blues progressions. He uses "The Rolling E Blues" to demonstrate these chord options.

9:12 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


Big Bill and the Reverend

Eric teaches a Piedmont blues number inspired by Big Bill Broonzy and the Reverend Gary Davis.

14:59 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


Big Bill and the Reverend Part 2

In this lesson, Eric Madis returns to a piece he calls "Big Bill and the Reverend". This time around, he teaches ways you can embellish the song to make it more interesting.

9:57 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


Big Bill and the Reverend Part 3

In this lesson, Eric returns to the tune "Big Bill and the Reverend" and talks about D chord substitutions.

12:25 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


Big Bill and the Reverend Part 4

In this lesson, Eric shows several interesting improvisational techniques you can use with the E chord and shows how they can be applied to "Big Bill and the Reverend".

11:17 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


Baby Please Don't Go

Eric Madis teaches a traditional blues tune entitled "Baby Please Don't Go".

9:29 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


Baby Please Don't Go Part 2

In this lesson Eric discusses variations that can be used when playing "Baby Please Don't Go".

10:36 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


RJ's Lament

Eric Madis will have you sounding like Robert Johnson in no time with this amazing blues progression entitled "RJ's Lament".

10:44 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


RJ's Lament Part 2

In this lesson Eric Madis teaches a version of "RJ's Lament" that contains Robert Johnson's signature musical flair.

8:10 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


Mississippi John Hurt Tribute

In this lesson, Eric teaches a 16 bar blues progression that honors blues musician Mississippi John Hurt.

8:02 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


Mississippi John Hurt Tribute Part 2

In the second part of his "Mississippi John Hurt Tribute," Eric Madis teaches several interesting variations on this 16 bar progression.

9:41 Runtime

3.0 Difficulty


The Americana Rag

Eric Madis teaches a traditional blues and ragtime theme he likes to call "The Americana Rag".

9:35 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


The Americana Rag Part 2

Eric Madis returns to "The Americana Rag". He teaches the melody portion of the song and how to add it into the basic arrangement taught in lesson 31.

7:53 Runtime

3.0 Difficulty


Walking Bass Lines

Eric Madis teaches the concept of walking bass lines within a new blues chord progression.

11:11 Runtime

3.0 Difficulty


Glory, Glory, Hallelujah

Eric starts teaching his blues/ragtime rendition of the classic song "Glory, Glory, Hallelujah". This version he teaches is in G6 tuning. He explains this tuning and the first section of the song.

12:26 Runtime

3.0 Difficulty


Glory, Glory, Hallelujah Part 2

Eric Madis returns to this song and teaches the second part of the melody.

5:52 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


Glory, Glory, Hallelujah Part 3

In this lesson, Eric teaches another melody that can be used with this song. This time the melody features a bit of Hawaiian slack key flair.

8:02 Runtime

3.0 Difficulty


Glory, Glory, Hallelujah Part 4

In this lesson, Eric teaches a version of this tune that is inspired by Mississippi John Hurt. Mixing this variation in with the others will have you sounding like a blues god in no time!

9:00 Runtime

3.0 Difficulty


Glory, Glory, Hallelujah Part 5

Eric Madis teaches you how to incorporate some Memphis lead ideas into the arrangement of "Glory, Glory Hallelujah" that he has been teaching.

6:36 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


Glory, Glory, Hallelujah Part 6

Eric teaches another way to play this song that includes arpeggio techniques often employed by Chet Atkins.

5:45 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


Glory, Glory, Hallelujah Part 7

Eric Madis teaches what he calls the "Blind Blake and Merle Travis" section of the song. Basically this is a version of the song taught in their styles.

7:28 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


Glory, Glory, Hallelujah Part 8

In the final lesson on this song, Eric teaches the ending and then demonstrates the entire song using all of the different arrangements from previous lessons. These may have seemed like small and easy variations, but when combined, they create an epic masterpiece of fingerstyle playing.

8:35 Runtime

3.0 Difficulty


Maple Leaf Rag

Eric Madis teaches a fingerstyle version of the classic ragtime tune "Maple Leaf Rag". He begins with this simple introduction arrangement and moves on to teach more difficult portions in later lessons.

8:00 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


Maple Leaf Rag Part 2

In the second part of his series on "Maple Leaf Rag," Eric teaches a basic version of the melody for the A section of the song.

6:43 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


Maple Leaf Rag Part 3

Eric Madis teaches the next major portion of the melody for "Maple Leaf Rag". This melody is a bit more difficult to play, but the sound is worth it.

11:23 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


Maple Leaf Rag Part 4

In this lesson, Eric teaches the third part of the melody to "Maple Leaf Rag". When combined with the intro, these three parts form a nearly complete arrangement of this classic ragtime tune.

8:53 Runtime

3.0 Difficulty


Maple Leaf Rag Part 5

Eric wraps up his rendition of "Maple Leaf Rag" by teaching the ending segment of the song. Afterwards, he puts the entire song together and talks about performing it.

8:02 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty

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  • Seattle, Washington
  • Playing since 1965
  • 140 lessons at JamPlay
Eric Madis is a guitarist, singer and composer, a versatile artist whose playing and compositions reflect his diverse and thorough background in American music. Whether performing in an ensemble or as a soloist, he exudes a love and a mastery of the blues that have been refined by years of experience in jazz, country, rock, and even Hawaiian music. What results are performances that include authentic renderings of old rural blues, personal interpretations of modern urban blues and jazz standards, and original music that defies strict categorization, but that draws heavily from these traditions.

Eric lives in Seattle where he leads his own ensemble, performs as a solo act and performs in the Seattle Swing Trio. He has released four CDs on Luna Records, and is currently working on a fifth. He is on the faculty of the National Guitar Workshop and Dusty Strings Music and teaches guitar privately.

Eric lived his formative years in Colorado with a family that was musical (his mother was an accomplished opera singer), and began his music study on the piano at the age of nine. He began performing shortly after picking up a guitar at ten years of age. By the age of sixteen, he was performing in Chicago-area coffeehouses. He has accompanied artists as diverse as bluesmen Big Walter Horton, Sunnyland Slim, Deacon Jones, Hawaiian luminaries Irmgaard Aluli, Kekua Fernandez, Emma Sharpe and author/poet Nikki Grimes.

He has led bands in Illinois, Texas, Colorado and Washington. He has opened shows for Robben Ford, James Cotton, Little Charlie and the Nightcats, Mem Shannon, Hawkeye Herman and author Sherman Alexie. Eric's four albums have received critical acclaim, including regional airplay and nominations from NAMA and Washington Blues Society (WBS). He has received 16 Best Blues nominations from WBS, was a finalist in the New Folk Awards at the 1981 Kerrville National Folk Festival, a finalist in the 1991 Seattle Guitar Starz competition, and has music featured on five film soundtracks. Eric has taught guitar classes at Denver Free University, University of Washington's Experimental College, Northwest Folklife Festival, National Guitar Workshop, and Canada's Guitar Workshop Plus.

Whether performing in a group or as a soloist, at a concert or a small club, teaching privately or a large workshop, Eric is a dedicated professional, with commitment to the quality of his art and to his audience.
Reviews & Feedback 94/100 with 615 ratings

A really good presentation. Easy to follow and paced right. I love JamPlay. Thanks


OK now you're startn' to make me work and really build the callouses. Keep it up, boss.


All of the above


All the three of the above comments are applicable for me. I think Eric has a very friendly and informal style that still gets the information across.


All three of the above.


This series just keeps getting better. Really clear instruction from Eric as usual. Love this arangment.


This whole series has been amazing


Awesome stuff Eric!


Wish I could have chosen ALL OF THE ABOVE! This video and teacher will likely help me to decide to subscribe to the site. Just what I'm looking for


I love it. Eric, like Hawkeye, makes it so easy.


Eric breaks all of this down so well.....with lots of practice of specific patterns and turn arounds. Excellent series!!


Eric explains everything in a completely understandable and comprehensive way. Love it!


Eric is awesome


Eric is top


Eric's blues lessons have been so helpful!


Eric Madis is a great player and teacher. Really like his approach. Easy to learn the piedmont style


Eric Madis ist so simpathic and good in explain !! Thumps Up. He alone is worth the membership !!


Great Teacher


Everything I'm looking for I love it


exactly the level and style i want


Teacher is great explaning the content as well!


He does a fantastically thorough job of teaching and understanding the pace at which the student learns. These are fantastic lessons.


Great systematic way of learning the alternating base with the thumb. Helps to burn it in. I took Eric's electric blues course and like his way of presenting the material so that it can be digested. He doesn't just run over it quickly and leav


Great teacher....


Great course.


Great instructor--I love how he beaks this down into chunks and walks us through it step by step.


Great lesson,great teacher and a great style of teaching and playing.


He is great. I work on that nearly every day. I´m a JamPlay Junkie now. Thanks for that!

rick martin

Hi Eric, just getting started and really looking forward to the acoustic fingerstyle blues series. The different screen shots are very helpful and appreciate the gradual breakdown for learning. fYI found you by searching on Google for acousti


I heard Mississippi John Hurt and really wanted to develop this style of blues into my acoustic guitar skills ... this first lesson on rolling e blues was terrific: great pace and clear. Like the instructor too.


i like his guitar style interests, his pace & calm energy


I like the teacher and content.


I use to do a song in this style but I don't remember much of it. I do remember how much fun it was to play. The teacher and the lessons were great!


the best teacher


just challenging enough, clear, great teacher. Step by step detail.


Like the teacher, easy to understand, AND just what I needed. I like starting off with something relatively easy and adding more extensive material. Lesson is straight forward - no random jumping around. Hope the rest of these lessons continue


Love it so useful!

baked alaskan

New to guitar, as well as finger picking style. I'm excited about the lesson.


Really enjoyed the experience. Very clear. Looking forward to the next one.


Really enjoying this series of lessons. Getting into what I wanted to learn when I first started playing acoustic guitar. Awesome teacher.


Systematic and well organized


Thanks for breaking it down so well Eric. Really nicely taught.


The new screen shots are great they really help!!!


The teacher is very good, easy to understand and very thorough...breaks it down very nicely. Thanks