Insider's Guide to Modern Blues with Christone "Kingfish" Ingram
Christone “Kingfish” Ingram has been leading the charge for a new generation of blues guitarists. Check out his tips, tricks & blues guitar influences.
By Ben Nemeroff
At the young age of only 21, Christone “Kingfish” Ingram has become one of the fastest rising masters of the blues guitar, crafting a style steeped in the tradition of Mississippi blues alongside modern blues rock for a twist all his own. A multi-instrumental musician, Ingram started on bass and drums and then began playing guitar at the age of 13. By 2014, he was playing as part of the Delta Blues Museum band at the Whitehouse for none other than Michelle Obama.
Kingfish recently sat down with Fender Play LIVE! Host Pete Griffin to give listeners a lesson in the blues, touching on:
-- Kingfish’s favorite artists and songs
-- Playing the blues with a pick vs fingerstyle
-- Kingfish’s version of “I Put a Spell On You”
-- Advice for Blues Guitarists
-- The Guitars and Amps - Acoustasonic Strat and Tone Master
Learn the essential blues riffs, techniques, and classic songs by legends like Robert Johnson, Stevie Ray Vaughan and more with the Blues Form Basics: I IV V Collection in Fender Play!
Kingfish’s Favorite Blues Artists & Songs
Kingfish’s style incorporates elements of Mississippi blues and blues rock. When running down his list of favorites, the blues prodigy cites artists like, B.B. King, Albert King, and Eric Gales. Listening to these blues masters helped him earn his education in blues soloing. On Fender Play Live Kingfish showed off his soloing prowess by playing one his favorite B.B. King songs, the iconic “The Thrill Is Gone.” Kingfish takes listeners through a study in soulful string bending up and down the neck of the guitar.
Playing the Blues with a Pick vs Fingerstyle
As Kingfish notes, playing the blues is all about feeling. There are lots of ways to change the feeling of your guitar playing, and one relatively easy way is to switch from playhing with a pick to playing fingerstyle (or vice versa). Playing with a pick instead of playing with your fingers can create a completely different sound. Playing with a pick can give a more precise, percussive sound, or help you pull off techniques like pinch harmonics. Blues legends like Buddy Guy and Eric Clapton (and Christone “Kingfish” Ingram himself) can often be seen playing with a pick.
Playing with your fingers lends itself to a softer, more emotional tone. Blues greats like Jeff Beck, John Lee Hooker and others have often been seen playing guitar with their fingers. Playing with your fingers also allows you to simultaneously play your own bassline while layering lead lines over the top because you have multiple points of contact with your strings, instead of just one (as you would with a pick).
I Put a Spell On You - Jay Hawkins
Fender Play Live viewers were lucky enough to watch as Kingfish showed how to play his rendition of the Screamin’ Jay Hawkins blues classic, “I Put a Spell On You.” He starts soft and low, taking it light on the fretboard before gradually building to a loud, more percussive feel. Kingfish uses a pick to hammer out the notes on the solo, playing around with string muting and winding down with 8th note strumming. Kingfish puts his stamp on “I Put a Spell On You,” interpreting it in his own style by slowing down the tempo and adding a more stripped-down feel.
Advice for Blues Guitarists at All Levels
As a devout disciple of the blues and an ambassador for a new generation of blues guitarists, Kingfish shares some tips and advice for new players.
Pentatonic Scales for Blues Beginners
In terms of “homework,” Kingfish recommends playing a pentatonic scale in any key as slow as you need to until you get comfortable with it. The pentatonic scale is a crucial piece of music theory for players of all levels. Work on building up your speed once you’re sure of your fingering and positioning.
Blues Chord Progressions for Intermediate-Level Guitarists
For intermediate players, learning the rhythm parts and chords to Kingfish’s version of “I Put a Spell On You” can be a great way to get a feel for blues chord progressions. Playing Kingfish’s rendition will allow you to transition between Em, Am, and B7 chords in a progression.
Learn Kingfish's version of "I Put A Spell On You" right here.
12-Bar Blues Progression for Advanced Guitarists
For more advanced players, Kingfish suggests guitarists try their hand at their favorite blues solo using a 12-bar progression: “That’s one of the things I used to do. You can either play to a song or to a backing track.”
Expand your blues education and learn more about pentatonic scales with Fender Play. Try your hand at the rhythm guitar parts of Kingfish’s “I Put a Spell On You” on Fender Play. Build more skills. Play a guitar solo over a 12-bar blues progression.
If you want to get even more hands-on experience learning to play the blues, check out Fender Play. Sign up for a free trial to unlock an entire series of blues guitar lessons that you can learn at your own pace.
Click here for the full episode.
The Guitars and Amps
The American Acoustasonic Series Strat
The American Acoustasonic Series Stratocaster offers the unmistakeable look and feel of the Strat, with its signature body cut and headstock. However, a closer look reveals that this is not your typical Strat. This contemporary take on Fender's iconic model is powered by the Fishman®-designed Acoustic Engine, expanding the Strat's sonic possibilities using a 3-pickup system. in an acoustic-inspired bodywith the versatility and playability. The Acoustasonic Stratocaster sounds great plugged in on stage or unplugged at the camp fire, it's the best of both the electric and acoustic words.
-- Acoustic Engine delivers new body style and tone wood combinations
Mod Knob selects and blends voices
-- Patented Stringed Instrument Resonance System (SIRS)
-- Three pickup systems: Fishman Under-Saddle Transducer; Fishman
-- Acoustasonic Enhancer; Fender Acoustasonic Noiseless™ magnetic pickup Integrated forearm and back contour, and mahogany neck
Check out our current stock of American Acoustasonic Stratocasters in the Fender Shop.
The Tone Master Deluxe Reverb
The Tone Master® Deluxe Reverb® is for the modern musician looking the 22-watt original Deluxe tube amp sound, in a light weight design. The experience with the Tone Master® is identical to the tube version of the amp, even including Fender's signature reverb and tremolo effects. However, this amp uses a digital processor to
-- Jensen N-12K neodymium speaker
-- Normal and Vibrato channels, each with two inputs
-- Rear-panel output power selector for full power and six attenuated settings
-- Lightweight, resonant pine cabinet
-- Power jewel illuminates in different colors for normal operation, warmup, and mute/silent mode
View the Tone Master® Deluxe Reverb® here.