How to Play 12 Bar Blues Riffs – Easy Guitar Tabs

Today I want to show you different ways of a playing a 12 bar blues guitar tab using the same progression.


Usually, blues progressions are made of at least 3 chords. The most basic combination of all is I7  IV7  V7; this style of music is basically developed around them. This means that if you are in the key of G, you would end up with a G7, C7 and D7. Now for the next example I have changed the chord quality a little bit to make it more interesting; I have replaced the G7 for a
Dm/G, the C7 for a C9 and the D7 for a D9. Here’s one of the many ways to play these chords:

The most common way to put this chords together in a real progression is with the so popular 12 bar blues. The 12 bar blues is the most basic progression of all blues. It uses the 3 chords, as I mentioned above and you can basically play any rhythm you want. The following 12 bar blues guitar tab shows a very common rhythm used in Shuffle rhythms. You should play it with your thumb instead of a pick and you usually mute the chords right after you play them without letting them sustain for their full value:

The G Minor Pentatonic or the G Blues Scale would go perfect with the progression above. You can also try experimenting with more scales like the Mixolydian scale, using one for each chord: G Mixolydian for the G7, C Mixolydian for the C9 and finally D Mixolydian for the D9. One very easy variation to this progression is to add more chords in between like this:

In the example above I have replaced a:
● Dm/G on the 3rd measure for a C9.
● Dm/G on the 8th measure for an E9
● D9 on the 9th measure for a Em/A
● C9 on the 10th measure for a D9

These changes give the progression a more jazz/blues sound. Once again, play it with your thumb and mute the chords right after you play them. I hope you enjoy this lesson today and don’t forget to check out all of our collection at

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