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Blues Guitar Chord Progressions • The Three Chord Progression • Part 4 • Shuffle Patterns In E • Chords, Tab, Video

Updated on August 10, 2016
Review by hansd: The book starts at a basic level but some more advanced chord knowledge is needed or can be obtained during the study. The book progresses steadily to more challenging exercises.
Review by hansd: The book starts at a basic level but some more advanced chord knowledge is needed or can be obtained during the study. The book progresses steadily to more challenging exercises. | Source

Learning Blues Guitar

I have been teaching guitar professionally since 1992, when Don’t Fret Guitar Instruction was established. Over the years, I have taught countless students (beginners to advanced) how to play or improve their chops. Past students include four members of PROTEST THE HERO.

With this book, my goal is to relate the scales with chords and rhythms as opposed to just learning solos or licks and having no idea how to apply them. Good rhythm playing and knowledge is crucial to good soloing and vice versa. This comes through understanding the relationship between chords and scales. This book provides that important foundation.

The book is unique in the fact that each chapter is based around a different key signature and an open (contains unfretted notes), pattern of the pentatonic scale. There are five chapters covering the key signatures of E, A, D, G and C, and the five open ‘box patterns’ (scale patterns) of the pentatonic scale. Eventually all the box patterns are covered, from the open strings to the fifteenth fret.

There is no endless scale practice or useless licks to learn. Instead, each chapter begins with a chord progression, moves into various rhythm patterns derived from the chord progression, and then culminates with solos based on the scale and key covered. These solos tie in with the chord progression and rhythm patterns to form a complete lesson for each chapter.

The book is progressive. Upon completion, the student will have a solid foundation in blues guitar, and will understand the rhythm, lead connection.

The book is best studied from beginning to end, without slighting any material. All theory is explained in the simplest terms. There are fretboard diagrams for the scales, chord grids, and photos of hand positions as well as videos posted on YouTube to aid in the learning process.

It is best, but not necessary, to have a knowledge of barre and open chord shapes before beginning this course. All the chords have fretboard grids associated with them.

Good luck and have fun. Music is a celebration. Enjoy!

Lorne K. Hemmerling


This style of blues rhythm playing has been around for a long time. It has also been widely used in rock and roll, country, rockabilly, blues rock and rhythm and blues. Elmore James, Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Chuck Berry, George Thorogood Travis Tritt, Alan Jackson, Aerosmith, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, all these artists have employed this technique. The basic premise is a power chord to a Major sixth, played as either a shuffle or a straight eight feel. Songs that come to mind are: Get Back, Ramblin' on My Mind, Move it On Over, Keep Your Hands To Yourself, Roll Over Beethoven, Johnny Be Goode, the list is almost endless, as are the variations to this pattern. Substitutions, embellishments, chord stabs, are all ways to vary the basic progression.

Pattern #1

This is the most most basic form of the pattern. It follows the normal 'one four five' progression in the key of E Major. These are the primary chords in the key of E Major: E (one), A (four), B (five). Many songs have been written using just these three chords. Simply move back and forth between the power chord and the Major sixth. The first four measures are E5 to E6, the next two, A5 to A6, back to E5 to E6 for two measures, followed by one measure of B5 to B6 (these are the hardest chords to form, because of the fourth finger stretch involved), one measure of A5 to A6, then back to two measures (commonly called the 'turnaround') of E5 to E6. As stated previously, this can be played with or without the shuffle feel (here, we are playing it with the shuffle), slow, medium, or fast tempo.

Shuffle Patterns In E #1

Shuffle Patterns In E #1

Pattern #2

This progression adds a dominant seventh to all the measures, except the B5 to B6. The stretch with the fourth finger to form this chord is extremely difficult on the second fret. The seventh chord adds a little more colour to the overall sound and was first made famous in boogie piano compositions. It is still a staple today. Play the power chord with the first finger, the Major sixth with the third finger and the seventh with the fourth. Try to break the sound between the chords by releasing the pressure, directly after sounding the chord. Also, light palm muting works very well. The trick is stop the chords from ringing together. This will sound mushy with even light distortion.

Shuffle Patterns In E #2

Shuffle Patterns In E #2

Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton
Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton

2006 digitally remastered and expanded two CD deluxe version of this absolutely classic 1966 album by Mayall and his Bluesbreakers featuring Eric Clapton. Disc One features the original album's 12 in mono and in stereo for a total of 24 tracks. Disc Two features an additional 19 tracks including studio takes, BBC sessions, live versions and much more. This stunning package confirms that this is the absolute best British Blues album ever recorded! 43 tracks total.


Pattern #3

This pattern is the same as number one, but adds an embellishment to make it more interesting. Once again, the chords move from an E5 power chord shape to the E6 (I have left out the seventh chord). At the end of the phrases there is a bend that substitutes for the last sixth chord. Make sure this always falls on the 'and' of four. Leading into the 'five' chord (the B5 to B6 movement), there is a chromatic climb from G♯ to the B5. Watch the video. It is essential to the timing to enter the B5 right on the 'one'. Form the chord right after fingering the A♯ on the fifth string.

Shuffle Patterns In E #3

Shuffle Patterns In E #3

Pattern #4

This pattern adds two single eighth notes on the second beat. The first note G, is part of the E minor Pentatonic scale, while the second note G♯, can be found in the E Major Pentatonic scale. This is a very common sound in blues, moving from the minor third to the Major third. It is also, the first time I have employed two different patterns on one chord. The last chord of measure two (B and G♯) are simply an inverted E Major chord. This is the first inversion of the Major chord. The lowest note (G♯), is the third of E Major, while the highest note (B) is the fifth of E Major.

Shuffle Patterns In E #4

Shuffle Patterns In E #4

Pattern #5

This pattern adds a triplet sequence at the end of most of the measures. Try playing the triplets two different ways: as written, by picking each note, and slurring the first two (G and G♯), by hammering them on. This is also the first version with a common turnaround at the end. This turnaround is based in the E minor Blues scale, and has been employed by many players. Blues artists have a whole arsenal of turnarounds at their disposal. The more you know, the more you can substitute, but be aware that the rest of the band should know which one you are going to pull off. This one sounds best when the bassist, keys, second guitar, all execute at the same time. Also, coming out of a solo, it sounds great to join the other players during these two measures.

Shuffle Pattern In E #5

Shuffle Patterns In E #5

Pattern #6

This pattern combines elements from all the other patterns. This is what good blues playing is all about: substitution. The turnaround is described in the lesson 'Blues Turnarounds In E'. The fact is, any of the thirteen turnarounds from that lesson would work for any of these patterns. I highly recommend learning all of them, playing the patterns through from beginning to end and substituting a different turnaround at each pass. Obviously, these patterns are progressive in nature, and the more you have committed to memory, the more enjoyable your playing becomes to you and your listeners.

Shuffle Pattern In E #6

Shuffle Patterns In E #6

Pattern #7

This is a great sounding pattern at a moderate to fast tempo. The turnaround is the same as Pattern #6, but an octave lower. Execute the D natural and D♯ in measure thirteen with the fourth finger. This will prove to be quite difficult at first and requires practice. The fourth finger is always weaker than the others. It does get better with use, but never really attains the strength that the first, second and third have (at least for me it hasn't).

Shuffle Pattern In E #7

Shuffle Pattern In E #7

Pattern #8

I have broken this down into separate lines to help with understanding the substitution. This is obviously the most difficult to execute, there is much going on. The only way to get through this effectively is to memorize it, but make sure you understand the workings behind the transcription. This is vital to creating your own.

This is a transcription of the piece I am playing on the video. Blues and jazz are all about substitution, taking the basic 12 bar format and replacing chords with other chords or single note runs.

Line one is the intro. This also doubles as a turnaround. In fact, the turnaround at the end is the intro in reverse. The intro ascends chromatically as a triplet sequence from an E7 open shape (fifth B and third G♯) to to an E7 shape (seventh D and fifth B) on the fifth fret. Then moves to an open B7 chord.

Line two is the beginning of the progression. The first two bars are the same Pattern #7. The last two bars have been replaced by single note fills. The third bar is a common blues run based in the Em Blues scale (Minor Pentatonic with an added flat fifth, commonly called the 'blue note'). This run is also used as a turnaround. The fourth bar fill employes a hammer on from the open G to G♯ (the third of E Major), followed by B (the fifth) then E (the root), then a slide into root E on the fifth fret. The last beat is a chromatic climb into the A (fourth chord)

Line three is standard two bars of the four chord then two bars of the one chord. The pattern for A7 is, again, from Pattern #7. The third bar is an E minor Pentatonic fill in the open position. The full (2 fret), bend on the second fret can be difficult to execute down this low on the fretboard. The beauty of bending this note is that, even if you don't make the full bend and you end up with a half step bend (one fret), it still sounds great because you have bent the A into B♭ (the 'blue note').

Line four is the movement from the five chord (B7) to the four chord (A7), then into the turnaround. In this version, the turnaround acts as the ending. As mentioned before, it is the intro in reverse. That is, it descends chromatically from the E7 shape on the fifth fret to the open E7 shape. The progression must end on some form of the E7 to complete the cycle. Here, the chords move from F9 to E9. This is a very common way to end a blues tune.

Play this until it is thoroughly memorized, then work with it. Mix and match the parts or create your own parts. Possibilities are almost infinite. The trick is to make it sound like it is improvised. Above all, HAVE FUN!

Shuffle Pattern In E #8


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    • Lorne Hemmerling profile imageAUTHOR

      Lorne Hemmerling 

      5 years ago from Oshawa

      Yep, my friend, thousands of songs! Thanks for the compliment!

    • villyvacker profile image

      Billy Turnock 

      5 years ago from Manchester England

      Great lesson in guitar shuffle. Learn this alone and you would be able to play 1000s of songs. Great article.

    • profile image

      Lorne Hemmerling 

      8 years ago

      Hi Eloise. If you go to the start of these lessons, this whole thing will make more sense. Begin at the Blues Basics: Three Chord Progression Part 1. The lessons are progressive in nature. Thanks so much for reading and commenting

    • Eloise Hope profile image

      Eloise Hope 

      8 years ago from Portland, Oregon, USA

      I fervently wish I understood it! The same feeling I get sitting in on my son's piano lessons; rather like listening to the grown-ups talk when I was small. I admire your knowledge.


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