Blues Guitar Chords
Firstly - if this material looks way too hard, try my other hub easy blues. If you're not familiar with the chords for a 12-bar blues, that would be a better place to start.
The first 12-bar example is in the key of D, and uses more advanced chord progressions than some blues - note the use of 9th and 13th chords, which replace ordinary 7th chords. This will lead to a more soul or jazz style. Play 4 beats for each bar, although with a band you could just "comp" and play each chord once. It's a *quick-change* blues, where bar 2 goes straight to the IV chord.
The second example is in the key of Dm, and will sound like The Thrill Has Gone, a classic BB King track. You can improvise over this sequence with Dm pentatonic.
On the chord pictures the loop symbol means a barre chord, and the 9th chord uses a partial barre over the top 3 strings.
If you find the 13th chords too difficult, just play a 7th chord, ideally a three-note 7th chord. Look at my other hub Guitar-advanced and jazz chords for further info.
When playing the blues you can use 7th, 9th and 13th chords in any combination you want - they will do the same job in harmonic terms and can be used in place of each other.
Chord chart - Major and minor Blues
Advice on guitar solos
Use both the major and minor pentatonic scales when you improvise over a blues sequence: for instance over D7 or D9 or D13 use the Dm pentatonic scale, but then drop the pattern down 3 frets and use the major pentatonic too. Switching between the two will sound more interesting.
Also - all the notes in those chords will fit as part of a lead line. Using these chord tones will reinforce the chord progression, and make it sound like you know what you're doing!
Great Blues Guitarists
Here's a shortlist of some of the best and most influential blues players:
- Robert Johnson
- BB King
- Robben Ford