Give your chords more blues feeling
When you are playing blues on guitar, you can do lots of more to get a bluesy sound than just playing the regular dominant chords. There are many alternative chord shapes that brings blues feeling to the music. Some of them are presented in this article.
Alternative barre chord shapes
Let’s begin with comparing a normal F7 barre chord with an alternative F7 chord.
Standard F7 Alternate F7
In the second version, the extra Eb on the fifth string gives us more of that blues sound. The same thing can be done playing barre chords in the second position with A shape. Here is Bb7 in two different ways.
Standard Bb7 Alternate Bb7
Substitution to open chords
If you still have troubles with barre chords you can of course use other chords as well, based on the same pattern from the last diagrams above. All you have to do is to remove the index finger:
Notice the difference in fret positions for the two chords above. To use the shapes above you will get possibilities to vary the usual 12 bar blues. You could play these chords together with a common open E or E7. Since the chord shapes are similar, you could use A#7/F as a chromatic in-between chord when going from A7/E to B7/F# (or the other way around).
Substitution to barre shapes
When playing a 12 bar blues you could alternate the IV and V chords with another movable shape that are presented here. If we are playing in the key of A, the chords would be A7, D7 and E7. But after playing A7 with a six-string barré shape (575655 or 575685) we don't use the normal D7 and E7 five string barré shapes (X57575 and X79797) but instead these two shapes:
Alternative D7 Alternate E7
To spice it up further you could try things like using D#7 as a transition chord between E7 and D7, or slide into D7 and E7 from C#7 and D#7 respectively. At last, you could shift between non-muted and muted string by hold and release the grip when strumming if you want to make it more funky.
Dominant 9 chords
To give our blues experiment some extra flavor you can add 9th chords. These can also be played as movable chords and here’s the shape to use (notice the similarity with the open B7 chord).
These were some easy tips for getting more out of your blues guitar playing.
Go to next article in the course: Expand your blues repertoire.
Go back to the main section of Blues.
See all articles about guitar.