Blues music has a certain feeling and the guitar is an excellent instrument in this style.
Here starts a blues course for guitar that include several lessons. It begins with an easy level that explains the basic and when goes into more advanced concepts and various areas like 12 bar blues progressions.
- Blues on guitar – the basics
- Blues chord progressions
- Give your chords more blues feeling
- Expand your blues repertoire
- 12 Bar blues chords
The short and concentrated guide
The must-have chords in blues
The first chords to learn if you want to get a bluesy guitar sound are those that give another color to the sound than the usual major chords and are known as Dominant 7th chords.
Common blues progression
The standard type blues progression is extremely common and are, with some slight variations, present in other styles as well. When you play it, the chance is big what it sounds familiar to you...
E7 – A7 – E7 – B7 – A7 – E7
Hopefully you get some bluesy sound from it. In blues, things repeat them self a lot. The progression above is short and instead for ending at the last E7 you could use B7 as a turnaround and when begin with the same progression all over again.
As mentioned, we are using so-called dominant chords here, which are common in blues. Try the same chord sequence without any seventh notes and you will lose the blues sound.
Blues rhythm (how create a blues feeling with the strumming)
By just strumming in a steady rhythm will not bring that blues feeling. The most fundamental thing to know is on which beats to put extra emphasize. Then playing blues, count 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4 ... and start with one downstroke on every count. Together with that try to emphasize (i.e. play a little harder) the first and third in every four strokes: 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4 ...
Besides the chords
Chords aren't everything. If you play a solo, you probably want to put in some licks here and there between your chords and also doing some embellishment. And if some other is playing the rhythm guitar, you could jam over it by using some blues pentatonic scales (this site doesn’t focus on scales, but you won't have any problem finding information about it on the web, a recommended resource is GuitarScale.org).
Even if you are unsure about what a blues shuffle is, you have almost certainly heard it. A blues shuffle is something you probably want to be able to play, it is one of the most distinguish things that could be heard off when a guitar is near.
A basic blues shuffle could look like this in a tablature:
Try it and you will hopefully recognize a familiar sound.
Listen to blues music will be a great benefit for you in the quest for the real blues feeling. Among the classic blues guitarists are names like the following:
- Robert Johnson
- Lead Belly
- Muddy Waters
- Howlin' Wolf
- John Lee Hooker
- T-Bone Walker
- Elmore James
- BB King
- Earl Hooker
The "next generations" of blues guitarists incorporated such names as Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughan.
Tips for more in-depth readings:
Read also Give your chords more blues feeling.