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12 Bar Blues Guitar
12-Bar Blues Guitar Variations
Now that you know the basic 12-Bar Blues progression, you've got a solid foundation upon which to build your Blues repertoire. Let's look at a few more 12-Bar Variations:
A common 12-Bar variation is the 7th Chord progression also called 'Dominant Blues'. Don't let the fancy name scare you, it's a very simply concept. It's almost exactly like the standard 12-Bar we looked at above, but uses a couple of 7th Chords instead of regular major chords.
For this progression we're going to play in the key of A, but instead of playing the regular A, D and E chords, we're going to play A7, D7 and E7. And instead of playing the chords in a standard fashion, let's use a sliding technique that'll add that smooth bluesy sound to the progression.
Ok, one step at a time. Here are the chords we're going to be using. Try them out on the guitar and see if you can play them. Remember, the best way to test a new chord (if you haven't played these before), is to fret it, and then pluck the strings one by one to make sure every notes is ringing clearly. We don't want any muffled strings or muted sounds.
Let's look at a few easy 12-bar blues variations using different chords.
Go from 12 Bar Blues guitar to the next lesson - Blues Guitar Tab
Following the same pattern we did with the previous progression we'll play:
A7 (4 bars), D7 (2 bars), A7 (2 bars), E7 (2 bars), D7 (2 Bars), A7 (2 bars)
How to do the sliding start
We're now going to play these chords with a sliding start. Let's use the A7 chord as example. Fret the chord on your guitar, now maintain this position with your hand and move one fret towards the neck (down, or away from the body of your guitar). Now for the sliding motion: You're going to strum the chord in this position and in one fluent motion slide the chord up to its real fret, which is one fret up the neck.
Watch the video below to see what this should sound and look like. In this video I'm playing the A7 chord, but sliding up towards the chord from one fret below.
Playing the 7th Chord Progression
Ok, let's put it all together. We're now going to play the 12 Bar Blues guitar progression using A7, D7 and E7 chords with a sliding start.
Watch the video below to see what the Blues 7th Chord Progression with a sliding start, should sound and look like:
Tip: Try the progression with different 9th and 7th chords. Play in different keys (use the chord wheel to see which chords to use) and try them with the sliding technique. If you're unsure what a specific chord's 7th or 9th variations look like, download the free extended guitar chord chart.
If you feel you've got the 12-Bar Blues guitar progression nailed down and are able to play it with a few different chord variations, it's time to look at Blues turnarounds. Turnarounds are basically short Blues licks (presented in Tab form). But more about this in the next lesson...
Tip: If you find this sliding motion to difficult to execute smoothly, simply skip it and play the chords normally for this lesson.