Beginner Blues Lesson - Most Commonly Used Blues Guitar Chords

by D Fraser - Date: 2010-09-09 - Word Count: 485 Share This!

When it comes to playing the blues there are two things you need to know.

1.)How the 12 bar blues works
2.)How to play the 12 bar blues in different keys

Thankfully there are some keys which are more popular then others. The key of A and E are used more then any other so the chords in these keys make up the most commonly played blues chords.

In this article I'm going to explain the basics of the 12 bar blues pattern, and then show you which chords you need to know in order to play them in the Key of A and E.

12 Bar Blues

The 12 bar blues is a pattern which repeats itself through out most blues songs and is made up of three different chords from a given key.

The chords you need to know are the one, the four and the five chord. These are easy to find, simply refer to the major scale for that particular key (I have done two examples below).

The pattern you play these chords in is:

I - I - I - I - IV - IV - I - I - V - IV - I - V

Where I stands for the one chords, IV stands for the four chord and V for the five chord.

Blues in the Key of A

First we need to determine what our one, four and five chords are. We can get these from looking at the A major scale. You just need to assign a number to each note/chord in the scale starting at the left and counting right (A = 1, B = 2 etc.).

A - B - C# - D - E - F# - G# - A

So our I chord is the A, our IV chord is the D and our V chord is the E.

By plugging these into the 12 bar blues pattern above you can play the 12 bar blues in the key of A.

Blues in the Key of E

Just like in the key of A we can determine what chords we need by looking at the E major scale below.

E - F# - G# - A - B - C# - D

The I chord is the E, the IV chord is the A and the V chord is the B.

Common Blues Guitar Chords

You can see that there is some overlap here. Between the Key of A and the Key of E we have the E chord, D chord, A chord and the B Chord. These are the most common chords used in blues guitar patterns.

To make these sound even more bluesy you'll want to play something a bit different then just open major chords. Learning 7th or 5th chords is a popular alternative in the blues. While this is outside the scope of this post a blues guitar dvd would teach you the basics of what you need to spice up your blues progressions.

When you learn blues guitar it's not so much all the technical aspects you must learn but the time to practice putting them all together to create your own sound and feel.

Ready to learn some more? You can learn blues guitar chords, scales and more entirely on your own and at home with a blues guitar lesson dvd. Save money and time compared to taking private lessons.n
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