12 Bar Blues Progressions

Time to learn how to play 12 bar blues progressions using those open 7th chords!

View the full lesson at 12 Bar Blues Progressions | JustinGuitar

I must be missing something. Re the standard 12 bar blues progression - the fifth chord in E is B not D(?)

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Hi Roger. You are correct. Looking at the lesson text you are playing in the keys E A and G. So the chords, played as 7th chords, would be:


Can you be specific where the reference to the D was?


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Hi David
In the video when Justin is demonstrating the first 12 bar blues progression he plays E, A, D and says the names of the chords. You can see he’s playing the D7 chord 'cause I followed along as he played.
It sounds better with B, to me anyway.

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When Justin demonstrates the first 12 bar blues progression he is playing in A
He plays A7 D7 and E7.
The chord are even on the screen when he’s playing,

The second time he demonstrates he plays in E using E7 A7 B7
The third time is in G. G7 C7 D7

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First progression @ 1:40 is in Key of A and Justin’s calls the chords A7 D7 E7 as shown by the graphics.
At 5:03 he does the quick change pattern in the Key of E chords E7, A7 B7 @6:23

Slow change blues at 7:40 in key of G, chords G7, C7, D7


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I’m a little confused here. He does indeed play those 3 chords but he is in the key of A. So A7 is I, D7 is IV, and E7 is V.

When he introduces the Quick Change in the key of E, he definitely plays E7 A7 and B7.

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Do the several clarifications above not answer and ease your confusion?

It may be due to the fact that E and A are both in the 12-bar in the keys of E and A. But their function in each is very different.

Key of A 12-bar uses: A, D, E (which are the I, IV and V respectively.
Key of E 12-bar uses: E, A, B (which are the I, IV and V respectively).

Sorry Richard, my confusion was with the question above by Zedred claiming that the first progression was in the key of E when it is in A, so wasn’t sure where he thought the B chord came into it.

Everyone gave him sound advice and no I don’t have a problem understanding The Blues at this beginner level, but thanks for the feedback.

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I’ve been practicing these progressions and I was thinking whether playing them with all minor 7th chords is a thing? Or should we use dominant 7th chords only?

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Yes you can play them using minor or minor 7 chords. There are all kinds of Minor Blue backing tracks on you tube.

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I had a problem, I tried to strum like justin with palm muting while practicing the new chords, and at one point a part of the skin on my thumb started to peel off, because I was rhythmically rubbing the strings with that part of my thumb. Did I do something wrong?

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= the minor blues … schweeet! :slight_smile:

@HutDave are you strumming with your thumb?
If yes, ease off and try with a pick.

No, I was strum with the pick, but at one point I tried to do the blues rhythm with palm muting, and strangely I had problems with my thumb. Maybe I need to focus on getting my palm going and attempting to keep my thumb in a more “safe” position.

You definitely need to look at making small adjustments to your arm, hand and finger positions. When palm muting and using a pick, your thumb should not be interfering with and scraping across the strings.

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Interesting how Justin says ‘you will develop a feeing as to when to change chords’. Guess I’m not feeling it yet as always change to late :slight_smile:

Actually in the last 3 weeks the feeing has come. Well nearly!! Definitely getting better.

So my next question is where do you go from here? I can (just about) play in the key of A, E and G (some of the chord changes till need a bit more work) but what do I do with the progressions? Where do I go from here.

I may have asked this before but what’s the difference between playing the 12BB chord progressions and the 12B shuffle riff at https://www.justinguitar.com/guitar-lessons/12-bar-shuffle-riff-bg-1306 What determines which one you use?

The chord progression would be the same ie I IV V chords but its just different rhythm feels. Just a straight 1234 1234 eta or the shuffle being that Chunka Chunka feel.