Here’s a few tips to spicing up a normal blues progression with some jazzy sophistication.
1. Instead of normal barre chords, use the “fat chord” jazz voicings. A7 – 5th fret on the low
E string, 5th fret on the D string, 6th fret on the G string, and D7 – 5th fret on the A string, 4th fret
on the D string, 5th fret on the G string.
2. You can use diminished chords as neat sounding passing chords. Specifically , you can
use the D#dim chord on bar 6 of a 12 bar blues (6th fret on the A string, 7th fret on the D string,
5th fret on the G string, 7th fret on the B string), or the A#dim on the second half of bar 8. This
is the same diminished shape moved up one fret.
(7th fret on the A string, 8th fret on the D string, 6th fret on the G string, 8th fret on the B string).
3. Instead of E7, D7, A7, E7 as a turnaround, try Bm7, E7, A7, E7.
Or if you really want to get fancy, you can play:
Bm7 | E7 | A7 F#7 | Bm E7 |
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Hi, it’s Claude Johnson and welcome to today’s lesson
on spicing-up a blues progression with jazz chords.
The first thing is your seven chords. Instead of playing your
normal barre chords, A-7, A-7. We’re just going to use these
jazz voicings here which sound a lot tighter because they
have no 5th. Okay? Instead of root 3rd, 5th, 7th, it’s
just root 3rd and 7th. Okay?
And notice how I’m hitting that root note first, sort of
that pick and pluck technique that I talk about. Pick the
root and then pluck the other two notes. And notice I’m
using this kind of rhythm like bum-bum bum-bum-bump.
There are other ways to play it. You can just do a straight,
like a waltz pattern triplet: one-two-three, one-two-three,
one-two-three, one-two-three. That’s a little more jazzy.
I kind of like to funk it up a little bit. You can throw
in a lick to turn it back around. Right there, that’s a
So there are two places you can use the diminished chord
that work really well. One is on barre number 6 and the
other is on the second half of barre 8. So the first way
on bar 6 is like this. Three, four, five, six, back to the A.
And here’s the second way on the second half of barre 8.
Two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight. Okay?
And then the turnaround, normally we might do something
In other words, D-7, D-7, A-7, A-7. But to jazz it up,
we’ll do what’s called a 2-5-1. So we’ll do the B-minor,
E-7 and back to the 1-7. So in other words, B-minor 7, E-7, A-7, E-7.
And then if you really want to get tricky, you can do this.