12 Bar Blues the Key of A

It's time to play the blues! Now, you'll learn one of the most important chord progressions in history - The Iconic 12 Bar Blues.

The 12 bar blues is a chord progression that is often referred to as a I IV V progression in... (name your key!)

For example: -

Rock me Baby is a 12 bar blues (I IV V progression) in the key of G.

This classic blues track has been covered in various keys by all the greats from Muddy Waters to Johnny Winter. So, have a listen to one of the greatest blues guitarists of all time - The King of the Blues - BB King!

To begin with you'll learn a 12 Bar Blues Shuffle in the key of A. So first of all, lets recap the notes of the A Major scale. Take a look at the scale degrees. 

What notes are at 1, 4 and 5?

A, D and E

Now, when we refer to chords we use Roman Numerals so 1, 4 and 5 is of course I IV V. And that's it - our I IV V chord progression

So in the key of A our I IV V 12 bar blues chords are A, D and E.

The Form

Now we know which chords make up the I IV V progression we need to have some kind of order in which to play them. And this 'order' is known as "The Form"

The most basic 12 bar blues 'form' is as follows: - 

4 Bars of the I chord (A in this case)

2 Bars of the IV chord (D)

2 Bars of the I chord (A)

1 Bar of the V chord (E)

1 Bar of the IV chord (D)

1 Bar of the V chord (E)

1 Bar of the I chord (A)

...and back to the Top! (i.e. repeat this progression). To practice this 12 bar blues start out in the key of A using open 5 chords (power chords) playing a simple shuffle rhythm to get that all important swing feel and the 12 bar blues form engrained into you.

1. Basic Shuffle Rhythm (in Open Position)

Basic Blues Shuffle in A.pdf

Backing Tracks - 12 Bar Blues in A

2. Basic Shuffle Rhythm (In Open Position var.)

12 Bar blues in A - Shuffle 5, 6, 7.pdf

An Easy Turnaround

Hopefully, you've been practicing your 12 bar blues in A. So, it's time to add the turnaround! The 'turnaround' is typically played over the last 2 'bars' of the 12 bar blues and takes us "back to the top". So, in an A blues the last 2 chords are A and E and we'll play the first (of our many turnarounds) like this: -

You may have noticed that in learning this turnaround you have utilised the E7 open chord. If you are unfamiliar with this chord check out the chord diagram here: - The E7 (E Dominant 7) chord.

3. Basic Shuffle Rhythm (in 5th Position)

12 Bar Blues in A - Barre Five.pdf

4. Basic Shuffle Rhythm (in 7th Position - No Barre!)

12 Bar Blues in A - No Barre.pdf

5. Tritone Blues (in A)

Tritones and the 12 bar blues.pdf

6. Playing the Changes - Minor Pentatonic Scale Practice.

Playing the Changes (minor Pentatonic Scale Practice).pdf

Jam with the Legends.... 12 Bar Blues the Key of A

Jamming with the Wolf... 

Use your knowledge of the 12 bar blues form, in the key of A  to jam with Howlin' Wolf with these great 12 bar blues standards - Built for comfort and Killing Floor.

"On my Knees"

by Son Seals is an awesome 12 bar blues in A... Jam along and try a "call and response" using your Am Pentatonic scales...

Blues with a feeling By Little Walter. A Classic 12 Bar Blues in the Key of A with a nice "Stop Time" break.

Quick 4 (quick change)

Jam along with Magic Sam. (Samuel Maghett).

"I Need you so bad"

A great 12 bar blues in A with a "Quick 4".

A7 | D7 | A7 | A7

D7 | D7 | A7 | A7

E7 | D7 | A7 | E7

Slow Blues (12/8)

Jam along with BB King

"Worry, Worry"

A great slow blues (12/8) in A with a "Quick 4".

Count 1-trip-let, 2-triplet, 3-trip-let, 4-trip-let (or if you prefer count: 1-and-a, 2-and-a, 3-and-a, 4-and-a).

A7 | D7 | A7 | A7

D7 | D7 | A7 | A7

E7 | D7 | A7 | E7