How to Play Blues on Guitar

The guitar is a great instrument to learn not only because it allows for beautiful sounds and tones, but also because it’s highly versatile, meaning you can do both a lot of things with it and play a lot of different styles with it. And one of those styles, which is also extremely popular, is the blues. That’s why today, we’ll be looking at how to play blues on guitar for beginners.

There are a few things to look at first with regards to blues basics before you can really delve into more advanced topics, and those involve the specific scales you should use, a specific chord progression you can use, and a few techniques to improve your playing expression. First, let’s look at the main scale to start with for blues guitar: the minor pentatonic.

The minor pentatonic is a beautiful scale that’s perfect for playing blues music. It’s also a fairly short scale of only five notes, but with the versatility of your guitar, you can play across several octaves so there really is no shortage of notes to play! Here we’re including an example of the minor pentatonic scale so you can see how it’s played. If you’ve studied other scales in the past, you may even have already come across this one before.

Minor Pentatonic.jpg

For a basic chord progression, beginning blues guitarists should make an effort to study the twelve-bar blues, which is extremely common in blues music. It consists of using the I-IV-V chords of a key played over twelve bars of music, and is a pretty simple progression to get down. You’re also able to play it with either major or minor chords, and you can mix up the rhythm and strumming patterns however you want. To play it, just play four bars of the I chord followed by two bars of IV, two bars of I, and then one bar of V, one bar of IV and the final two bars of I again. And that’s it.


After you have the core scale and progression down which you’ll need to play blues on guitar, it’s time to add a little feel to your playing. For many blues guitarists, techniques such as bends, slides and vibrato are just as important as the notes themselves. These techniques add expression and feeling to your music, so you definitely want to look into them and practice them until they come to you naturally.

With these three bases covered, a beginning player should be able to start playing some mean blues guitar in only a matter of a few days or weeks.

If you are into blues guitar, I recommend you to check out this great course in DVD:


How to play your favorite songs from the 60's & 70's on the guitar


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