Overall Rating: 4.6 (of 5)
Rating Votes %
12 75 ||
2 13 ||
2 13 ||
0 0 ||
0 0 ||
From 16 votes total
Rate This Lesson
Rate from 1 (poor) to 5 (best)
Send Feedback

CREATE YOUR OWN BLUES PROGRESSION

J.R. Libby (219) · [archive]
Style: Blues · Level: Beginner · Tempo: 120
Pages: 1

The simplest form of 12 bar Blues uses a key, and for our example, we will use the key of A, and the 1, 4, 5, which in the key of A, would work out like this.

1 equals your starting chord, A 4 is the forth chord from the A, which would be D 5 equals the fifth chord from the A, which would be E So your 1, 4, 5 (I, IV, V) would be A, D, and E.

For the purpose of this lesson on 12 bar Blues, we will work with those good old power chords, to keep things easy. Once you get your feet wet, you can try it out with more advanced chords. Below will be the power chord shapes we will be using.

  1. -----A5------D5------E5
  2. E---------------------------
  3. B---------------------------
  4. G--------------2-------------
  5. D-----2--------0-------------
  6. A-----0----------------2----
  7. E----------------------0----
,P. So the first power chord is an A5, the second a D5, and the third a E5. Nothing hard about any of this so far, right. Well, it only gets easier...now it's time to build our progression, using these three chords. A 12 bar Blues has, as it's name implies, 12 measures. So I'll write out a simple 12 bar blues progression, and then I'll talk some on how to play it.

  1. ---------A5----------------A5-----------------A5------------------A5
  2. E---------------------l---------------------l--------------------l---------------------l
  3. B---------------------l---------------------l--------------------l---------------------l
  4. G---------------------l---------------------l--------------------l---------------------l
  5. D----2---2---2---2---l---2---2---2---2---l---2---2---2---2---l---2---2---2---2---l
  6. A----0---0---0---0---l---0---0---0---0---l---0---0---0---0---l---0---0---0---0---l
  7. E----------------------l--------------------l---------------------l---------------------l


  1. ----D5---------------------D5-----------------A5-----------------A5
  2. E-----------------------l--------------------l--------------------l---------------------l
  3. B-----------------------l--------------------l--------------------l---------------------l
  4. G-----2---2---2---2---l---2---2---2---2---l--------------------l---------------------l
  5. D-----0---0---0---0---l---0---0---0---0---l---2---2---2---2---l---2---2---2---2---l
  6. A-----------------------l--------------------l-------0---0---0---0---l---0---0---0---0----l
  7. E-----------------------l--------------------l---------------------l---------------------l


  1. ---E5---------------------E5--------------------A5-----------------A5
  2. E----------------------l---------------------l--------------------l---------------------l
  3. B----------------------l---------------------l--------------------l---------------------l
  4. G----------------------l---------------------l--------------------l---------------------l
  5. D----------------------l---------------------l-----2---2---2---2---l---2---2---2---2---l
  6. A-----2---2---2---2---l---2---2---2---2---l---0---0---0---0---l---0---0---0---0---l
  7. E-----0---0---0---0---l---0---0---0---0---l---------------------l--------------------l


And that's all there is to it. Yes, there are patterns you can follow, but believe it or not, you can rearrange these measures in any order you want to, and you will still have a 12 bar Blues in the key of A, just be sure to begin your first measure with an A chord.

Now for the hard part, how will you chose to strum these...that's entirely up to you. You could strum them one strum per chord, but I would suggest you strum in 8ths, as in 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + or eight strums per measure, which would be two strums per chord.

Now make no mistake, this is Blues, but you can get even more Bluesy with the next progression I'll show you, and again, this will be based in the key of A using the 1, 4, 5 method we talked about earlier. You see, you really can write your own music.

Now for this next progression, like I said, it will get more Bluesy, and that means a little more finger work will be involved, but nothing that you can't handle, you'll see. For this progression, our power chords will be A5, A6, D5, D6, E5, E6. In each chord, you will finger the first note with your first finger, say the A5, play that note as indicated, then fret the A6 using your third finger, and so on throughout the progression. Again, I will leave how you play these up to you, but I would suggest you play this also in 8ths.

  1. ---A5/A6
  2. E----------------------l---------------------l--------------------l---------------------l
  3. B----------------------l---------------------l--------------------l---------------------l
  4. G----------------------l---------------------l--------------------l---------------------l
  5. D-----2---4---2---4---l---2---4---2---4---l---2---4---2---4---l---2---4---2---4---l
  6. A-----0---0---0---0---l---0---0---0---0---l---0---0---0---0---l---0---0---0---0---l
  7. E-----------------------l--------------------l---------------------l---------------------l


  1. ---D5/D6--------------------------------------A5/A6
  2. E-----------------------l--------------------l--------------------l---------------------l
  3. B-----------------------l--------------------l--------------------l---------------------l
  4. G-----2---4---2---4---l---2---4---2---4---l--------------------l---------------------l
  5. D-----0---0---0---0---l---0---0---0---0---l---2---2---4---4---l---2---4---2---4---l
  6. A-----------------------l--------------------l------0---0---0---0----l--0---0---0---0---l
  7. E-----------------------l--------------------l----------------------l--------------------l


  1. ---E5/E6---------------------------------------A5/A6
  2. E----------------------l---------------------l--------------------l---------------------l
  3. B----------------------l---------------------l--------------------l---------------------l
  4. G----------------------l---------------------l--------------------l---------------------l
  5. D----------------------l---------------------l----2---4---2---4---l---2---4---2---4---l
  6. A-----2---4---2---4---l---2---4---2---4---l--0---0---0---0---l---0---0---0---0---l
  7. E-----0---0---0---0---l---0---0---0---0---l---------------------l--------------------l


There you go, I told you this would be easy to understand. Nothing to it. Just remember the 1, 4, 5 (I, IV, V) to come up with your chords and your on your way.

  1. Key of A = A, D, E
  2. Key of G = G, C, D
  3. Key of D = D, G, A
  4. Key of E = E, A, B


And if your not comfortable rearranging the measures and experimenting around, I'll list some of the patterns using the key of A that we could have played this progression out in;

Just remember in our progression, I=A, IV=D, V=E

I, I, I, I, IV, IV, I, I, V, IV, I, V , or ,P. I, IV, I, I, IV, IV, V, IV, I, V

And now that you know how to build and play a 12 bar Blues, the very same things you learned for that also apply to a 8 bar Blues, except instead of using 12 measures, your using eight. Here is one example of what a 8 bar Blues pattern would look like;

I, I, IV, IV, I, V, I, I

It really is that easy. Just remember, the I is your key chord, once you establish that key chord, it's as easy as 1, 4, 5.....so the I could be A, or E, or whatever you want it to be...have fun.