How to Use 12-Bar Blues for Rhythm Guitar Playing

Hey now….Claude “Bluesboy” Johnson here
with a few words on the 12 bar blues pattern.

Music can be simple when you break things
down into its components, and one concept
that is really useful is just understanding
the basic chord progression underneath any
song or piece.

And by far the most popular chord progression
used in blues is known as the 12-bar blues progression.

It gets its name because , surprise surprise,
it has 12 bars, or 12 chords in it.

There are many variations to it, but one
of the most common is something like this:

A7 | D7 | A7 | A7

D7 | D7 | A7 | A7

E7 | D7 | A7 | E7

Basically you have 4 bars of the “ONE”
chord, 2 bars of the “FOUR” chord , and
then a turn around.

By the way, I go wayyy deeper into these
concepts in How to Play Smokin Blues


Once you know the basic progression,
then its time to spice it up.

One of the most common techniques
that you can use in a 12 bar blues jam
is to play shuffle patterns.

Many guitarists start off learning
a 12 bar blues shuffle where you are
riffing out on 2 stings.

I show this in my course (

and I also show tons of other ways to create
interesting 12 bar blues rhythm playing.

One way is riffs. 12 bar blues riffs can
consist of single note runs, chords,
arpeggios, or a combination of any of them.

Once you can play rhythm, you should also
learn to play a 12 bar blues solo. This
is easy because you can simply use
the minor pentatonic scale in the key
that you’re playing in.

Eric Clapton loves this technique and so
does just about every famous blues guitarist.
If you want 12 bar blues tablature, again…

I recommend you check out my course because
I include 245 tabbed examples.

In summary, the 12 bar blues is a critical
MUST KNOW progression that you can have
a lot of fun with.

Rock on, Claude

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


This free course expires in:


Get 2 hours of FREE Guitar Lessons.