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Blues Rhythm Guitar Chord Fills Lesson

Updated on May 23, 2018
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Music School Owner, Recording Artist, Guitarist, Composer, Performer & Educator. My goal is to make good music, make and keep good friends.

A simple yet effective rhythm fill for blues is taking 2 minor triad shapes superimposed over a dominant 7th chord. Sounds fancy? Maybe but they are relatively easy and will add a lot to your rhythm chops.

Classic Blues Rhythm Fills

The blues rhythm slides are an excellent addition to a guitarist's rhythm licks. The way they work is to alternate between minor triads a whole step apart that are built from the 5th and 6th degrees of a Mixolydian scale.

In the key of E using E Mixolydian


the minor triads would be B minor (B-D-F#) and C# minor (C#-E-G#)

Even though these chords on their own are minor chords, in the context of superimposing them over a dominant 7th chord it is a totally different story. The minor triad on the 5th degree implies a dominant 9th chord because the root 3rd and 5th of that chord is also the 5th, b7 and 9th of the dominant 7th chord.

Here are the notes of a E9 chord arranged in a Root-3rd-5th-b7th-9th order:


On the E9, B minor (B-D-F#) would be the minor triad starting from the 5th. The root-B, the b3rd-D and the 5th-F# of that Bmi triad is equivalent to the 5th-B, the b7-D and the 9th-F# of an E9chord. The Bmi therefore functions as an incomplete E9 chord.

The triad from the 6th degree is C# minor (C#-E-G#). These notes correspond to the 6th, root and 3rd of the E9 chord and implies an E6 or E13.

Closed Position Triads

Although many voicings are possible for the minor triads, probably the most popular are the Closed Position Triads

Root Position, 1st Inversion and 2nd Inversion closed position minor triads can be played on:

String Set 1 (EBG)

String Set 2 (BGD)

String Set 3 (GDA)

String Set 4 (DAE)

Total = 3 inversions per string set not including octave duplications x 4 string sets = 12 triads.

Most commonly used are the 1st and 2nd string set 1st inversion triads.

Slide to the X and Back

Start on the black dots then slide to the x and back to the dots.

Blues Rhythm Slides String Set 1

Root Position Bmi slides to C#mi
Root Position Bmi slides to C#mi
1st Inversion Bmi slides to C#mi
1st Inversion Bmi slides to C#mi
2nd Inversion Bmi slides to C#mi
2nd Inversion Bmi slides to C#mi

Blues Rhythm Slides 2nd string set

2nd Inversion Bmi slides to C#mi
2nd Inversion Bmi slides to C#mi
Root Position Bmi slides to C#mi
Root Position Bmi slides to C#mi
1st Inversion Bmi slides to C#mi
1st Inversion Bmi slides to C#mi

All Keys

Dominant 7th Chords

  • A7 use Emi-F#mi
  • Bb7 use Fmi-Gmi
  • B7/Cb7 use F#mi-G#mi/Gbmi-Abmi
  • C7 use Gmi-Ami
  • C#7/Db7 use G#mi-A#mi/Abmi-Bbmi
  • D7 use Ami-Bmi
  • Eb7 use Bbmi-Cmi
  • E7 use Bmi-C#mi
  • F7 use Cmi-Dmi
  • F#7/Gb7 use C#mi-D#mi/Dbmi-Ebmi
  • G7 use Dmi-Emi
  • Ab7 use Ebmi-Fmi


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