12 Bar Blues Progression
Learn How To Play The 12 Bar Blues Progression on Guitar!
In this blues guitar lesson you are going to be learning the basic twelve bar blues progression. The twelve bar blues progression is simply a common chord progression that lasts for twelve measures. This progression is used quite often in all kinds of music. It is great to know this progression because it is something that almost every musician in the world knows. You can use it when you show up to a jam or go over to your friend’s house to play around. Call out a twelve bar blues in the key of E and everyone will know exactly what is going on and they will have a clear road map to follow.
The twelve bar blues progression uses the 1, 4 and 5 chords of any given key. Since we will be in the key of E for this lesson the chords that we will be using are E, A and B. The example in this lesson uses all power chords so that you can concentrate on the progression and not have to worry too much about which chords to play. First we will walk you through the actual progression and then we will add a simple strumming pattern to the chords.
Take a quick look at the sheet music and TAB for the twelve bar blues progression. You will see four measures of E, two measures of A, two measures of E, one measure of B, one measure of A, one measure of E and one final measure of B. This is the standard twelve bar blues progression. Try playing through this progression using just whole notes with your E, A, and B power chords.
Once you get the general idea of the progression you can start to put some basic rhythms with the chords. This progression is in 4/4 time. That means that each measure gets four beats. Try counting each measure as “1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and”. Usually a blues song will have a shuffle or swing feel instead of a straight eighth note feel. This just means that you give a little bit longer note value to the numbers when you count and a little shorter note value to the “ands” between the numbers. If this sounds confusing just watch the video and try to copy the rhythm that you hear. Count “1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and” and play a downstroke for every number and every “and”. This is a very basic blues rhythm but that is good because the object of this lesson is just to become familiar with the basic twelve bar blues progression.
As soon as you have the twelve bar blues progression down cold you can start to use some more sophisticated rhythms with your picking hand. If you want to put this progression into practice you should check out the lesson Twelve Bar Blues Riff.
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