Play Blues Acoustic Guitar

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Tuesday, January 5, 2016
1:49 PM

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Beginner Blues Guitar Lessons

“E” chord

“Simple blues guitar lessons” should start with easy to make chords. I will start in the key of “E”. There are ways to make the E chord easier to play. Because the 1 and 6 strings are “E” strings it is an easy key to play in. The index finger is 3rd string 1st fret. ( always try to get your finger as close to the fret wire toward the sound hole as possible, for better sound.)

Your 2nd finger will be on the 5th string 2nd fret. Your 3rd finger will be on the 4th string 2nd fret just under your 2nd finger. This will be an easy chord to make after you develop muscle memory. Practice dropping your fingers down all at the same time after you get used to the configuration.

If you add your pinky to the 2nd string 3rd fret this becomes an “E7” chord. This will be good to know when you get proficient because the pinky can be used to make notes.

Easier “E7”

For now, I will show an easier way to make an “E7” chord. If you pick up your 3rd finger and only your index finger on the 3rd string 1st fret and your 2nd finger on the 5th string 2nd fret are left you can use this 2 finger “E7” to start your blues riff.

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Key of E

“A” chord

If you read my How to learn guitar page you will remember me explaining a 1-4-5 progression. In the key of “E” the 4 would be the “A” chord. The “A” chord is made by fingering the 2nd, 3rd and 4th string in the 2nd fret. This can be achieved in several different ways.

By having your 2nd, 3rd, and 4th fingers all in a row in the 2nd fret you can make the “A” chord. If you have thick fingers you can cover all the strings with your index and 2nd finger. You can place your 2nd finger slightly behind your index and 3rd finger and get more room for your larger fingers. If you are blessed with double joints or flexibility you can cover the 3 strings With your 2nd finger flattened out.
The guitar has many ways to make the same chord and many ways to finger a particular chord.

Starting out you want to find the easiest way for you. Eventually, you will use different ways of fingering depending on the situation. An “A7” can be made by flattening your index finger over the 1st 4 strings in the 2nd fret and placing your 2nd finger on the 1st string 3rd fret.

Easier “A7”

A two finger “A7” can be made by placing your 2nd finger on the 4th string 2nd fret and your 3rd finger on the 2nd string 2nd fret. This can be used in your first blues riff.

“B” chord

The three strings fingered to make an “A” chord can be raised 2 frets to the 4th fret, to make a “B” chord. To play all the strings you must add a bar on the 2nd fret; however, you can place your index finger on the 1st string 2nd fret and 3, 4 and 5 fingers on the 2, 3 and 4th strings of the 4th fret. With this method’ you can only play the top four strings or dampen the 5 and 6 strings. In the 1-4-5 progression, the “B” is the 5 chord. This usually becomes a 7th chord.

“B7” chord

The “B7” chord is made with the 2nd finger on the 5th string 2nd fret. The index finger is on the 4th string 1st fret. The 3rd finger is on the 3rd string 2nd fret . The pinky is on the 1st string 2nd fret.
You can use your first three fingers and just don’t play the first string.

Also, the A7 played by placing your index finger across 4 strings on the 2nd fret and your 2nd finger on the next fret 1st string can be moved to the 4th fret and only the top 4 strings used. Moving it up a step makes it a “B7.”

Blues Licks for Acoustic Guitar

With what we have learned about the key of “E” and playing only some of the strings lets put together a basic blues progression. The one thing that is necessary is rhythm. This would include the joint rhythm of both hands.
The right hand should have a simple steady rhythm on the 3 or 4 strings and the left hand should press down and let up on the same beat. This produces a funky, bluesy sound and prevents the strings from continually wringing out. For lefties, the hands would be reversed.

Place your left index finger on the 5 and 4 string in the 2nd fret; dampen the 3rd string as we are not using the index finger for it. Use your 3rd finger to go up and down on the 5th string 4th fret. Work on your rhythm till you get that funky blues beat going.

This will be an exercise for your fingers and may take some time to get it down. Don’t worry if your hand gets a little sore. If it cramps just relax it and shake it a little. If you get serious pain stop right away. If your pain is a continual issue you may want to see your doctor.

When you get this down you only have to raise your fingers up 1 string to do the same in the “A” chord. With the 1-4-5 progression in many of the blues keys the 4 and the 5 are only 1 step or two frets apart. From the “A” you only have to go to the 4th fret to get the “B” or 5.

This is a very simplistic way to start but as you develop proficiency you will naturally come up with variations. You can start with a pattern of: E A E B and then a turn around and repeat. You will learn more chords and how to use more strings.

Blues turn around Man-playing-guitar

There are many different types of blues turnarounds that can be used. One that I use is 2nd finger on the 3rd string 4th fret and index finger on the 2nd string 3rd fret. Work these strings down from there two frets while picking and then finish or resolve on the “B” or preferably “B7″ chord.

There are 2 “walk in” notes on the 1st and 2nd frets of the 5th string that can be added, when you can.
The 5th string can also be used for the turnaround. Starting at the 4th fret and work down 2 more frets.
When starting out don’t be afraid to pick the open strings on the turn around or in between beats. It doesn’t sound bad and will make it easier to change chords when you are starting out.

12 bar blues guitar lesson


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One of my originals, I play all the instruments.

2 thoughts on “Play Blues Acoustic Guitar

  • March 23, 2016 at 9:34 pm
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    Hey

    This is a great breakdown of some basics needed to play the blues.

    I love playing the blues and just jamming for ages on the blues. It’s especially cool when you’ve got a couple of others to play with and then you can play around with leads etc.

    It would be cool if you could add some tab to show the chords. For people like me who are visually oriented it would make it easier to follow – or refer to the video – i see there is tab in there for the chords.

    Reply
    • March 23, 2016 at 10:08 pm
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      Hi Nathan, I do have chord charts on other pages and the vid has chord charts. I chose this video because the chords are easy for beginners. Jam play offers more extensive lessons. On my “build a practice routine that is best”page, I have some pentatonic scale charts that will show the notes for soloing. These are what they call the 5 blues boxes when 2 “blue notes” are added to each box. Thanks for your comment. I am always happy to help.

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