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Blues Guitar Lessons • Chord Progression And Solo From Learning Blues Guitar Chapter Four • Chords, Solo, Videos

Updated on March 14, 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

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

Chord Progression

The seventh chords from the previous chapters have been replaced by minor chords. Many blues tunes incorporate minor shapes. These chords have an inherent sad sound to them, perfect for the blues genre.

I have limited the chords to standard minor and minor seventh shapes. Minor ninths, elevenths, thirteenths, etc. could be substituted. As long as there are no alterations (sharp or flat intervals in the chords), the same scale can be used to improvise over the entire progression. This holds true for the other progressions as well.


This transcription will have you moving around the fretboard quite a bit. The mixture of Root 6 and Root 5 barre chords, as well as a melody chord shape (Gm7, measures three, seven and twelve), is quite challenging. These chord shapes should be thoroughly memorized. Always understand what root that you are playing. For example

Gm in measure one is a Root 6, Cm in measure two is a Root 5.


To this point, we have learned the Pentatonic scale in Box Pattern's #1, #2 and #4. Part four introduces Box Pattern #5 in Gm Pentatonic in the open position. G minor is relative to B♭ Major, they share the same key signature (two flats: B♭and E♭). In the B♭ Major Pentatonic scale (EXACTLY the same notes as Gm Pentatonic), the E♭ (the fourth scale step), is omitted. That is the reason behind the movement to Cm Pentatonic in the previous rhythm pattern.

Comparing Gm Pentatonic to Dm Pentatonic, you will notice that there is, again, only one note difference: the A natural has moved to B♭ (or A♯, enharmonically). This becomes a factor when applying Pentatonic scales that are not the tonal centre of the chord. Eg: When improvising over a Gm chord, Gm or Dm Pentatonic could be played. Dm Pentatonic contains and A natural, Gm Pentatonic contains the B♭. BOTH of these notes are part of the full G natural minor scale. From a theory standpoint, this works. Your ear may hear it differently, especially if you only employ the Pentatonic's and not the full scale.


More than any other genre blues music has the ability to convey emotions. From extremely happy to downright miserable and everything in between. I set out to create a very lonely, sad feeling with this solo. The minor chords really make a difference in the overall sound, but the main factor are the string bends. They create a 'crying' sound. A perfect example of this is The Beatle's 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps'. Eric Clapton's playing fits the title perfectly, a string bending crying sound throughout the solo.


Besides the bends, another key factor in the creation of this sound is the technique of vibrato. Good vibrato is essential to the blues and can define a performer's playing style. There are two types, 'violin vibrato' is executed by releasing your hand from the back of the fretboard and rocking back and forth on your finger (in a motion parallel to the fingerboard). This is very effective on the treble strings, but not so on the bass strings. The other technique is 'bend vibrato' where the string is actually bent down or up (but not both at the same time, that is, only bend the string one way from the unbent pitch). This is a much more pronounced technique. Watch the video for a demonstration of both styles.

© 2014 Lorne Hemmerling


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    • Ddog666 profile image

      Ddog666 2 years ago

      Many thanks Lorne, you should have the payment and my email now!

    • Lorne Hemmerling profile image

      Lorne Hemmerling 2 years ago from Oshawa

      Hi Steve

      If you pay $8.00 (.99 off original price) to my paypal account (, I will send the book through Paypal will notify me when the payment comes through. Please send your best email address to the above address, so I can send the book. Thanks so much my friend!

    • profile image

      Steve 2 years ago

      Hi Lorne,

      I've been trying to buy your book, "Learning Blues Guitar" without success from They only have a couple European countries on the country list when signing up, with no other options. The knock-on effect of that is that, I'm unable to complete my profile and therefore unable to complete any kind of transaction there.

      I contacted them a few days ago about this issue, but haven't received any reply yet. What I'd like to know is if you are selling the book anywhere else or have an alternative method to buy it. have already worn out my patience. Many thanks.

    • Lorne Hemmerling profile image

      Lorne Hemmerling 3 years ago from Oshawa

      Most of the instruments popular in blues music attempted to emulate something. Harmonicas reproduced the sound of a train whistle. As mentioned in the post, crying sounds influenced bending notes on guitar and other instruments. I have always felt that more than any other form of music, blues has the ability to create emotions. Thanks for the comment, my friend! If you have a chance, check out this gem from the great bluesman, John Mayall:

    • Ann1Az2 profile image

      Ann1Az2 3 years ago from Orange, Texas

      I think it may have been the great B B King that invented the sliding of the strings that creates to tone of the blues so well on the guitar. At least that what I heard. He certainly had the technique down. This is great instruction - voted up.

    • Lorne Hemmerling profile image

      Lorne Hemmerling 3 years ago from Oshawa

      Thanks so much, my friend, and it's never too late!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      One of my regrets in life: never having learned the guitar. Sigh! Great instructions here.