Guitar Lesson: A Little More Blues…

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Guitar Lesson: A Little More Blues…


Sticking with our 12 Bar Blues in the key of E, Figure A shows the basic progression (the same as last month). As mentioned previously this is a simple example, feel free to alter the rhythms and add some different voicings or substitutions. Often all three chords are played as Dominant 7ths and one quick trick can be half stepping or chromatically approaching the upcoming chord change from a semitone away on beat 4 of the bar before.


Figure B demonstrates this type of thinking. When E7 is going to A7 on a beat 1 we use Bb7 (a semitone above A7) to give us some movement. Figure B is a very literal example, it’s probably more musical to just use a few of these (not on every chord change) so use your ear to decide.


Building on our lead line example from last issue, Figure C uses the 12 Bar Blues progression in E as our chordal structure. Mainly quavers, the opening two bar phrase uses a common dominant 7th sounding two note grouping and some notes from the E Minor Pentatonic scale. This motif is repeated with a slight variation in bars 3 and 4.


Figure D incorporates a triplet on beat 3 with a typical Minor 3, Major 3, 5th, dominant 7th lick that moves up the neck for the next bar. Starting on the Major 3rd of the E chord, the next two bars sees a descending lick that features chromatic notes and chord tones. It’s worth trying to pull off the E natural to Eb and D triplet on beat 4 (so just pick the ­first note) for a smooth, rolling type of sound.


Moving to the last four bars of our progression, we get some chord tones to outline the 1st, 3rd and 5th of our B7 chord (B, D# and F#) in Figure E. Followed by a similar lick over the A chord, we also add two G natural quavers to make an A dominant 7 sound (A, C#, E and G). Another typical blues guitar sounding lick in the next bar, with an E drone note played with a descending D, C# and C natural underneath. This descending line creates movement towards the B note (the tonic of the B7 chord) on the first beat of the ­final bar in our 12 Bar Blues progression.


Improvising is an important skill for guitarists and can be really fun. The Blues is a great starting point and leads into a lot of other styles too. A lot of early learning for improvising is copying licks and solos and then trying to bend, twist and mould them into your own phrases and ideas. Have fun, see you next month!