Blues Guitar – 6 Awesome Tips

Looking to learn about blues guitar? This article will tell you all you need to know about blues guitar!

In this free guitar lesson you will learn:

  • 2 awesome blues riffs!
  • 6 amazing sounding blues chords!
  • 3 awesome blues scales!
  • The important difference between rhythm and lead in blues guitar

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Before we get into the nitty gritty of blues guitar, let’s take a look at an awesome blues guitar riff.

One of my favourites is the 12 bar blues riff, it sounds good, feels good and is a quick fire way to make you sound like a blues master.

Let’s learn this awesome riff!

Here’s the tab:

12-bar-blues-riff

Not sure how to read tab? Check out this article: How To Read Guitar Tabs

Blues guitar chords

Another vital element of blues guitar is the chords. In blues guitar the most common chords are ‘7’ chords.

Don’t worry too much about the ins and outs of 7 chords for now.

These chords have a great bluesy sound and feel!

The first blues chord we’re going to learn is an E7.

Blues guitar chords – The ‘E7’ Chord

blues guitar lessons

To play this chord you:

  • Place your 2nd finger on the 2nd fret of the A string.
  • Place your 1st finger on the 1st fret of the G string.
  • Strum all the strings!

If you’d like to know about other types of E chord, go here: 4 Easy Ways To Play The E Chord On Guitar

Another cool blues chord we can learn, is the A7 chord.

Let’s get stuck in!


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Blues guitar chords – The ‘A7’ Chord

blues guitar

To play this chord you:

  • Place your 1st finger on the 2nd fret of the D string.
  • Place your 2nd finger on the 2nd fret of the B string.
  • Strum from the A string!

There are other ways to play the A chord, go here to find out more: 3 Easy Ways To Play The A Chord On Guitar

The third and final blues guitar chord we’re going to learn is the B7.

Blues guitar chord – The ‘B7’ Chord

blues guitar chords

To play this guitar chord:

  • Place your 2nd finger on the 2nd fret of the A string.
  • Place your 1st finger on the 1st fret of the D string.
  • Place your 3rd finger on the 2nd fret of the G string.
  • Strum from the A string.

This chord is a little trickier as we have to use 3 fingers this time, within a tight space!

If you need a little help with playing chords, go here: How To Play Guitar Chords: A Beginner’s Guide

Blues guitar keys

The two most common keys in blues music are E and A. There are others, but these two keys are the most common.

What is a musical key?

A musical key refers to a group of chords, and scales which work nicely together.

For now, that’s all you need to know. We don’t need to go into reasons why these chords and scales work together.

Blues in the key of E

For each of our blues keys, we have specific chords that work in a blues progression.

For the key of E, those chords are:

  • E7

  • A7

  • B7

blues guitar

These are the ONLY chords you need to know to play an E blues.

The 12 bar blues progression

In blues music, one of the most common chord progressions is a 12 bar blues.

What’s a 12 bar blues?

So, you may have this heard term thrown around quite a lot if you’ve already looked into blues guitar.

A 12 bar blues is a chord progression which is used ALL the time in blues music.

Here’s what a 12 bar blues looks like:

E Blues

The reason it’s called a 12 bar blues is because the progression features 12 bars.

The bars are those vertical lines which sit on the outside of each chord.

If you count the spaces in between, you’ll find that there are 12 of these spaces.

Usually, within a bar we have four beats, though sometimes we have three or six, depending on the time signature.

The above sequence is in 4/4 (written at the beginning) which means there are four beats in each bar.

Learning a 12 bar blues in the key of E

As we found out before, the chords that we use in the key of E for a 12 bar blues are:

  • E7

  • A7

  • B7

All we need to do is work out, where we can place these chords.

Here’s what a 12 bar blues in the key of E would look like:

E BluesFor each bar, we allow four beats.

It would sound something like this:

Learning a 12 bar blues in the key of A

Now if we want to a play a 12 bar blues in the key of A, we have to change the chords.

The 12 bar blues chords in the key of A are:

  • A7

  • D7

  • E7

blues guitar

These are the only chords you need to know to play a blues in the key of A.
So our 12 bar blues chord progression would look like this:

Blues - Simple-3

Can you see how the chords have changed, but the progression still has the same layout?

The chord changes are in exactly the same place, and we still have 12 bars!

Here’s how it would sound:

Blues guitar scales

Another awesome element about playing blues guitar is learning scales. This is important stuff if you want to get into lead guitar playing. Blues guitar scales help us to improvise!

We’re going to learn our blues scale in the key of E and A, these two keys are the most common keys in blues music.

The E Blues Guitar Scale

This scale has a great bluesy sound. Learning this scale is a quick and easy way to sound bluesy!

It uses open string so is ideal for beginners.

 

blues guitar scales

Here’s what it sounds like:

Make sure that when you play this scale, each note is nice and clear.

You want to squeeze every bit of juice out of those tasty blues notes!

The A Blues Guitar Scale

Seeing as we learnt the chords for a blues in A, let’s learn the scale to go with them.

Here’s the tab:

a blues guitar scale

Here’s how it sounds:

You might have noticed, that this scale is EXACTLY the same as our E blues guitar scale, however instead of starting on the E string. For this scale, we’re going to start on the A string.

Where would I use these scales?

The two main things you’d use blues scales for would be to:

  • Improvise
  • Create blues riffs!

Improvising with blues scales

The great thing about learning blues scales is that they are simple and easy to use!

Both of these scales work over particular blues keys. For example you could use:

  • E blues scale over a E blues.
  • A blues scale over a A blues.

Try this:

  • This backing track is in the key of E  Try using the E blues scale over it.
  • This backing track is in the key of A – Try using the A blues scale over it.

When you’re improvising, it’s best to just be simple and not play too many notes. Take your time and play what feels right to you!

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