Useful Tips

Blues Chords for Guitar


The co-author of this article is Nate Savage. Nate Savage is a professional guitar player. He has over 16 years of guitar learning experience for students from all over the world. His YouTube channel called Guitareo has over 450,000 subscribers.

The number of sources used in this article: 6. You will find a list of them at the bottom of the page.

The 12-beat blues sequence is perhaps the most popular chord sequence in American music. Each musician is familiar with her, and this means that everyone can join the performers at any time with a clear understanding of what to play next.

Keep in mind: although this is not strictly necessary, it will still be much easier for you if you are familiar with the basics of music theory.

Blues chords. general information

First of all, blues is the basis of everything. It is from this direction that most of modern music, especially the genres of rock and metal, later went on. Therefore, every guitarist who wants to learn how to compose music and do it correctly must know the chords for blues and the rules for building this harmony. This article is fully devoted to this issue, and will help you better understand what it is all about and how to build classic squares in any key.

The basic theory of blues chords

The main thing to remember is the key levels that are used when playing the blues. This is the first, fourth and fifth steps - that is, tonic, subdominant and dominant. They must be in any blues song, since it is with their help that a characteristic sound is formed. For example, the key C will, in addition to the main triad “Before” include “Fa” and “Salt”. Based on this rule, you can easily build harmony in any key.


In addition, the seventh chords are often used in blues. These are triads, to which one more step is added - the seventh, and from this comes the name. On the letter they are indicated as X7, where X is the name of the chord. For example, A7 is a major “A”, to which a G step has been added.

Blues square pattern

It is also worth talking about the classic pattern of the twelve-beat blues square. It looks like this:

Four times the tonic triad - two times the subdominant chord - two times the tonic triad - two times the dominant chord - two times the tonic triad.

In certain cases, the seventh step rises in triads, and everything is played on seventh chords. Remember this structure, it will come in handy in the future.

ForTo solo to this music, you need to remember the pentatonic scale on the guitar, and how it lines up. Remembering it, you can also build the triad of the triad you need and beat them.

Blues squares on a guitar. Practical examples

Below are some examples of how to make a blues square. Many of them are taken from classical songs, and are suitable for teaching the basics of blues.

The classic major blues square in the key of Do looks like this:

C - C - C - C - F - F - C - C - G - G - C - C

It is worth remembering about possible seventh chords.

A - A - A - A - D - D - A - A - E - E - A - A

And so on in different keys.

In addition, there is a version of the game in which the last triad of tonic inside the progression is replaced by a dominant chord, that is, the fifth step. This gives a more intense and unfinished sound when the phrase is not resolved as required. Based on two past examples, in this case the sequences look like this:

C - C - C - C - F - F - C - C - G - G - C - G

A - A - A - A - D - D - A - A - E - E - A - E

However, using this move is more careful so as not to confuse the listener and not lose the melody itself.

Chord Forms E (E)

E7 You can pinch in two different ways. First - just remove your ring finger from the second fret of the fourth string in standard position E.

Another - with your little finger, hold the second on the third.

E7add6 - that is, the seventh chord with the sixth step added, you can extract if you remove the ring finger from the second fret of the fourth and put the little finger in the second fret of the string B.

E9 - non-chord, that is, a triad with the addition of the ninth step. To do this, you need to hold the fourth on the second, third on the first, second on the third and first on the same as the fourth.

E13 - terzdetsimakkord, that is, a triad to which the thirteenth step was added. For him, remove the ring finger from the second fret of the fourth and hold the first two on the second.

E7 # 9 - in classic position E, hold the first two strings on the third.

Chord Form A (A)

The triad of the seventh stage from la is also put in two ways. The first - just remove the middle finger from the second fret of the third.

Following - hold the first on the third.

A7add6 - remove your finger from the second fret of the third and hold the first on the second.

A9 set in two ways. The first - put a small barre from the quarter on the second fret and hold the third on the fourth, and the first - on the third.

Alternative - the second fret of string B, the fourth of the third and fifth of the fourth.

A13 - The same as the alternative way of setting A9, but at the same time the first is clamped on the second.

Chord Form B (B)

B7 It is set in a very unusual way - the fifth, third and first strings are clamped on the second fret, and the fourth - on the first.

B9 It is placed in the same way, but the string B is also clamped on the second fret.

B7 # 9 - the same as B7, but instead of the first, the second is clamped on the third.

Chord forms from E (mi) with barre

All forms of Mi triads are set in the same way as in the open format, but with barre on the frets you need.

Note thatthat it will not be the same Mi, but any other seventh chord. To extract exactly mi, you need to put the barre on 12m and add the desired design to it. In addition, putting these forms on the fifth fret, you will get major triads A.

A (A) Chord Forms with Barre

The same thing works with La forms. You need to remember how it is played on open strings, and then add them to the barre on any other fret. The principle is the same - just follow the tonic.

Movable chords with open strings E (s)

Let’s explain againthat in this section we give only the forms of chords, and not the triads themselves. Putting them on different frets, you will get different results in terms of sound.

There are two movable forms of the seventh chord - hold the sixth on any fret, after that - the fourth on the same fret, and after that - the third one one lower.

An alternative - the sixth, fourth and second clamp on the same fret, and the third - on the one below.

The form of the terzdetsimakkord looks like this - hold the first variant of the form of the seventh chord, and add to it the string B.

Open chord movable chord forms A (a)

The form of the seventh chord from A is constructed as follows - the fifth is clamped on any fret, the fourth - one higher, the third - on the same as the fifth. You need to play only on these three strings.

The form of the non-chord looks like this - you clamp the first, second and third on any one fret, the fifth on the same fret, and the fourth on the fret higher.

The seventh step chord is set in exactly the same way, but instead of barre, you need to hold the string B one way lower than the third.

The form of terzdetsimakkord looks like this.

Essential Blues Chords for Guitars

The table below shows the main blues chords for the guitar in all the most popular keys. It is worth saying that they can also be shifted to sharp keys - the most important thing is not to forget to shift the triads in tone.

Blues progression

Here are compiled tables with various blues progressions, similar to those mentioned above in this article. In addition to everything, we have also attached audio files so that you can, if you wish, play along the sequences of triads, and also check whether you play correctly at all. These patterns can be superimposed on any rhythm on the guitar, and not necessarily just the shuffle.


Even if you do not plan to play acoustic music, but only rock or metal, you still need to learn how the blues play. This is the basis on which all your favorite genres of music are built, and without them you really can’t compose anything. In addition, this knowledge and skills will help you diversify your compositions and come up with new interesting moves - both on acoustic and on electric guitars.

Blues form

  • Author: Denis Chufarov
  • Oct 25, 2012
  • Harmony, Musical Form

When it comes to blues, many people imagine an old black African American with a guitar and think of the blues as a kind of archaic form. However, the blues since it appeared in the middle of the XIX century, and to this day is an inexhaustible source of inspiration for a variety of styles of music. As an example, we can say that under the influence of the blues is the music of both the Metallica group and Christina Aguilera.

Even if you do not intend to compose jazz, blues or rock music, knowing the blues form can give you some new ideas and allow you to sound new.

The basis of modern blues is a 12-beat form, which accurately copies the poetic form of the blues, which is three-line and has the form of AAB.

To indicate each new line, a chord of a new function is used. In 9-10 clock strokes, a move from stage V to IV is typical

Thus, the simplest blues form is the following square:

The last two measures are called turnarounds and can vary beyond recognition depending on the style of music.

Very often, the blues form is mistakenly interpreted as consisting of three sentences. However, this is not true for several reasons. First - this is the absence of cadences, most often in 4, 8, 12 beats, on the contrary, a chord is added that enhances gravity, which contributes to the bonding of the form, rather than its dismemberment. Second Is a blues phrase. A blues four-stroke can consist of one or two phrases located on the border of pseudo-sentences.

Also, the blues is characterized by the construction of phrases on the principle of "question answer", when the vocalist sings the first two measures, and a solo instrument answers. This practice appeared in spirituals - spiritual songs in which the choir answered the singer’s voice, or vice versa.

Although the archaic blues are sometimes performed by the usual triads, nevertheless, most often the harmony of the blues is based on the dissonance of the dominant septic chord - therefore, the blues sequence is typically presented in precisely the seventh chords.

Ix | Ix | Ix | Ix

IVx | IVx | Ix | Ix |

Vx | IVx | Ix | Ix

If you write seventh chords

and isolate the notes from them, we get the blues scale:

The blues lead itself is inseparable from the seventh chords, since without the chord accompaniment it does not produce the typical blues sound - which is the superposition of minor tones on the major third of the chord in combination with an unstable small septima. Very often, blues pentatonic is extracted from this gamut:

Which, when superimposed on a major harmony, creates a major-minor sound characteristic of blues.

Complicating Harmony

Naturally, the blues square is most often performed in more complex varieties, while the methods of complicating the harmonic scheme depend on the style of the work.

For blues styles, the addition of intermediate dominants or, less commonly, subdominant is characteristic. For example:

Ix | Vx | Ix | Ix |

IVx | IVx | Ix | I Ix |

Vx | IVx | Ix | Vx

In this scheme, before each chord change, a chord of a side dominant is added. The blues also use the addition of chromatic halftone shifts. In this case, all chords are considered within the original key.

Ix IV # x | Vx | Ix | Ix III # x |

IVx | IVx | Ix | IIx VIbx |

Vx | IVx | Ix | Vx IIbx |

Also, for guitar blues, chord presentation is characteristic not only in the form of seventh chords, but also in the form of chords with sexta. If indicated schematically:

I I6 | I7 I6 etc

In jazz versions, more advanced substitution options are used. Each four-stroke is considered as a small sequence, which can be extremely complicated with the help of conventional jazz substitutions.

Consider examples of jazz blues interpretations:

C7 / F7 / C7 / C7 /
F7 / F # dim7 / C7 / Em7 - A7 /
Dm7 / G7 / Em7 - A7 / Dm7 - G7 /

The first four-stroke is presented here unchanged. The second uses the classic move from subdominant to tonic through a reduced IV # level. Then, the standard method for expanding chords by introducing the II-V chain was used. The dominant chord is shifted to the 10th beat, and before it we introduce the sequence of turns, starting in the reverse order, that is, we move from G7 - Dm7 - A7-Em7 - this way we get the initial turn, now we just need to turn it around and get a replacement. Further, in the 11-12th beat, the same technique was used, but only for the first-stage chord. Also, the last two measures can be chromatic C7 - Eb7 / D7 - Db7

As you can see, harmonic moves standard for jazz are used here.

The introduction of the I-VI-II-V turnover is also very often used. Then we get the following scheme:

C7 -A7 / Dm7 - G7 / C7 / Gm7 C7 /
F7 / F # dim7 / C7 -A7 / B7 - G # 7 /
Bb7-G7 / F7 / Em7 - Ebm7 / Dm7 - Db7 /

One of the ultimate options for complicating the blues sequence is, as I already mentioned, the Parker sequence.

Fmaj7 / Em7b5 A7b9 / Dm7 Db7 / Cm7 F7 /
Bb7 / Bbm7 Eb7 / Am7 D7 / Abm7 Db7 /
Gm7 / C7 / F D7 / Gm7 C7 /

As you can see, all the complication methods discussed above are combined here. Chromatic shifts, introduction of II-V turnover, delaying dominants, etc.

A few more sequences from Chugunov’s textbook:

The penetration of blues into fusion led to the emergence of such polytonic sequences:

Pat Metheny "Missouri Uncompromised"

A / A / A / A /
Bb | A | Db / Ab Eb / G | D / F # Dm / F |
E / D / A / A /

There are also minor blues, which, however, do not sound so characteristic:

Of the famous minor blues can be called the chorus from "Still got the blues" Gary Moore

The complexity of the form

A pure blues form does not allow any modification in the number of measures, but it is very often used to create both simpler and more complex forms. Simple ones include, for example, an 8-beat hard rock form:

I | I | IV | I | V | IV | I | I |

Complex forms are a mix of simple blues. A classic example of a complex two-part is St. Louis Blues:

Part A - here’s a 12 beat blues

Part B - 16 clock

Part A1 - Reprise 12 Clock Blues

Another version of a simple three-part blues-based form:

When it comes to blues, I present neither a black man with a guitar, but Chizh, Sergei Chigrakov, because I don’t know foreign languages ​​and I think that the main thing in the song should be clear.

Chizh probably has 10% of blues and those, as a rule, are not strict - this is just a stylization, and for the most part just Russian rock.

Sorry, but how to read articles? otherwise I can’t get in through WordPress, although I have a page created ...
what am i doing wrong?

Good day Denis! It is interesting to know what kind of computer programs you use to sound music, including editors, plugins. Which do you think is the best. How are you enjoying FL Studio?

I mainly use Sonar 8.5 and Adobe Audition 3. Very rarely Fl studio.
The main plug-in package is Addictive Drums, Trilogy, Scarbee bass, Spectrasonic. Orchestral East West and Miroslav Philarmonic. True Piano and sometimes DAW Sonar synthesizers. The list is large if you write completely :) I use Waves and T-Racks for processing, although if necessary I will use everything that can be at hand - the main thing is that it matches the goals. About FL studio. For me, it does not seem convenient primarily because there is simply no musical notation - but for me it is very important. This does not mean that the program is bad. But it’s convenient to write electronic music in it. But symphonic or rock music is difficult. But you can achieve good sound in any professional program - it's a matter of habit

Thank you Denis. I’ll start using Sonar, but I have version 7 available.