12 Bar blues chords

The most fundamental way to play chords in the style in blues is to adopt a 12 bar structure. A 12 bar blues structure often consist of only three chords (I, IV and V). Examples of chords to use and other instructions are presented below.

12 Bar blues in E

The first package with movable 3-strings chords.

E7

  • E7 chord diagram

A7

  • A7 chord diagram

B7

  • B7 chord diagram

Comment

Here is a way to play blues with one movable shape. The journey goes from the 2nd via the 7th and 9th frets in which the bass and root note and is the same. These particular chords could be seen as voicings with the 5th omitted. Notice that the chords are based on a partial E7 shape (022130).

To avoid the long jump back to 1st position, you could choose to play the E7 (I) chord as XX675X.

12 Bar Blues in E example

On way to play the chords in a 12 bar progression. Start from top left and play four beats per measure.

E7 E7 E7 E7
A7 A7 E7 E7
B7 A7 E7 E7

You could play the E Pentatonic minor blues scale in 1st position over the chords.

12 Bar blues in C

A second package with movable 3-strings chords.

C7

  • C7 chord diagram

F7

  • F7 chord diagram

G7

  • G7 chord diagram

Comment

The chords are based on a partial C7 shape (of course, the whole shape could also be used for I, IV and V). The chords have the 3rd omitted. You can choose to decrease the movement by play C7 as X X 10 9 11 X instead.

12 Bar Blues in C example

On way to play the chords in a 12 bar progression.

C7 C7 C7 C7
F7 F7 C7 C7
G7 F7 C7 C7

You could play the C Pentatonic minor blues scale in 3rd position over the chords.

12 Bar blues in D

A third package with two different chord shapes.

D7

  • D7 chord diagram

G7

  • G7 chord diagram

A7

  • A7 chord diagram

Comment

The chords are based on C7 and D7 shapes. The root is the bass note in both cases.

12 Bar Blues in D example

On way to play the chords in a 12 Bar progression.

D7 D7 D7 D7
G7 G7 D7 D7
A7 G7 D7 D7

You could play the D Pentatonic minor blues scale in 3rd position over the chords.

See blues progressions for more 12 Bar Blues suggestions.

Go back to the main section of Blues guitar.

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