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Blues Guitar Chord Progressions • The Three Chord Progression • Part 3 • Chords, Tab, Video Lessons

Updated on December 19, 2016
Eric Burdon, Stu Leathwood, Keith Ellis, Roy Wood, Jimi Hendrix, Noel Redding, Carl Wayne, John Mayall, Steve Winwood, Trevor Burton, Roy Morris Left to Right at Hotel Stoller in Zurich 1968
Eric Burdon, Stu Leathwood, Keith Ellis, Roy Wood, Jimi Hendrix, Noel Redding, Carl Wayne, John Mayall, Steve Winwood, Trevor Burton, Roy Morris Left to Right at Hotel Stoller in Zurich 1968

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 chord movement had me mystified for quite awhile. I had only heard blues players execute the move with two notes (over A7: A, F♯ to G, E). It wasn't until a keyboardist friend of mine added the third note (C♯ between the A and F♯, B between the G and E), that I understood the theory behind the change. In this key it is simply an AMaj6 to A9, DMaj6 to D9 and EMaj6 to E9. Chord spelling for the first change is: AMaj6 - root A, third C♯ and sixth F♯, A9 - seventh G, ninth B and fifth E. This is such a cool sound! Used extensively by Stevie Ray Vaughn, Mike Bloomfield, etc.

It can be played over an A5 to A6 pinky pattern, or an A7 chord. Quite often, players slide into the sixth chord from the ninth chord, or out of the ninth chord to the sixth chord. Try different sliding combinations.

This piece starts with a riff (a short lead line that keeps repeating), in A Major Pentatonic. The riff modulates to D Major pentatonic and E Major Pentatonic with the chord changes. I have included three different turnarounds. The first two are very common, the third I composed myself. It is based in the A Major Blues scale. All the turnarounds move to the E in the second bar, then return to the riff to start again. Practise the progression with all three turnarounds. As a blues player, you can never have too many turnarounds in your arsenal.

Excerpt From Learning Blues Guitar

This version adds one more element into Rhythm Pattern #1. The Major 6 to Dominant 9 change is used all the time in blues and jazz. Many horn lines are written around this change. For years I was baffled by this. I thought it was a Major 6 to Major 6 movement, and I could not figure out how two Major 6 chords would fit over a single tonality. For example, in measure one, the Major 6 chords would be C6 and B♭6. It wasn't until I learned the dominant ninth shape we have been working with, that I realized the movement was to two forms of a C chord (C6 and C9). Theory aside, this is a great sounding chord change.


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    • Lorne Hemmerling profile image

      Lorne Hemmerling 6 years ago from Oshawa

      Thanks for the comment!

    • profile image

      ruud list 6 years ago

      very useful

      especially for beginners of course


      greetings from the lowlands