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The first step I take when trying to learn any new song, is to really understand the original recording. For this particular Texas Blues Slide Guitar piece, I used the transcription from Bottleneck Blues Slide Guitar by Woody Mann as a starting point. This is a fantastic book with a lot of old Bottleneck Blues Slide Guitar covers, and currently my go to when looking to learn a new Texas Blues Bottleneck Slide Guitar song. As good as this book is, it only gives you part of the song. So there were still a lot of nuances that I needed to figure out.

Step one: transcribing this original texas blues slide guitar song…

Lawless Luke, "Transcribing The Black Ace", Texas Blues Slide Guitar player & composer, from Coventry, West Midlands, UK
Transcribing the original takes time, but is the foundation for everything else when learning a new piece.

I won’t lie, this part is the most time consuming and tedious part of the process. Once I have a starting point I then begin to systematically work through the recording by ear. Transcribing all the different parts that are missing and filling in the gaps. For this I use an app called Anytune which allows me to slow down, loop and even change the original pitch of the recording! This is an absolutely indispensable tool, and allows you to really take your time, training your ear to get everything written down. I tend to write everything in tab format, either using some tab notepaper or my iPad Pro.

Step two: piecing together the different parts of the puzzle

Lawless Luke, "I am The Black Ace, I'm the boss card in your hand", Texas Blues Slide Guitar player & composer, from Coventry, West Midlands, UK
Slowly but surely all the pieces start to come together…

Once I’d figured out all the different parts of this Texas Blues Slide Guitar song, it was time to start learning it! Personally I find learning each section bit by bit with a loop trainer, really effective. You can use features like this on Anytune. In layman’s terms a loop trainer allows you to loop specified sections of a song, whilst gradually increasing the speed. I used this approach for all the parts of this Texas Blues Slide Guitar song.

Step three: smoothing out the kinks in this Texas Blues Slide Guitar classic…

Lawless Luke, "Recording The Black Ace on the iPad Pro", Texas Blues Slide Guitar player & composer, from Coventry, West Midlands, UK
Working through the kinks in your playing takes time, but with focus and commitment you will get there.

Once I was confident that I could play all the tricky parts of the song, the next step was to put it all together. Here my approach was slightly different; working through the song at half speed, then once I was happy I increased the speed gradually. I continued to repeat this process, until I could play the song through right to the end at full speed.

Step 4: put yourself under pressure…

Lawless Luke, "Recording the Vocals for The Black Ace", Texas Blues Slide Guitar player & composer, from Coventry, West Midlands, UK
Recording the guitar part and singing was not easy, but if you want to grow you have to put yourself under pressure.

Lets face it, learning these songs can take a long time. Especially if you are pushing yourself technically, which you should be. At the end of the process I always like to put myself under some pressure to record. Why do I put myself under this pressure? Well partly because I’m a masochist, but also you will find that no matter how well rehearsed you are, as soon as you apply pressure, you really get to learn how technically proficient you are. This is the part that separates the men from the boys. If you want to push yourself to the limit of your ability you must put yourself in an uncomfortable position. That is the only way you grow, so you can understand your limits and break through them.

Hard work pays off…

Lawless Luke, "The Black Ace Playing Card on snow", Texas Blues Slide Guitar player & composer, from Coventry, West Midlands, UK
Hard work pays off! I learnt so much from this Texas Blues Slide Guitar classic.

There you have it, you finally have some insight into the ridiculous amount of work involved in learning this Texas Blues Slide Guitar song. Don’t get disheartened though, with patience and persistence you will get there. It’s also jolly good fun and always nice when you can play things you had only dreamed of before. Leave your comments below and let me know what practice techniques work for you.

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