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The #1 Classic Blues & Rock Guitar Rhythm Pattern

Updated on May 17, 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.

The Blues Shuffle Rhythm Pattern

Whether it's the background rhythm to Johhny B Goode by Chuck Berry (in fact most of his songs) or Brown Sugar by the Rolling Stones this little pinky stretching blues rhythm pattern and variations were a staple of rock for a good 30 years.

Here is a random sampling in no particular order, of artists and their songs that use variations of this classic pattern.

Beatle's: Come Together, Revolution, I Wanna Hold Your Hand. Rolling Stones: Brown Sugar, Midnight Rambler, It's Only Rock & Roll, their blues covers. Bachman Turner Overdrive: Taking Care of Business. Bad Company: Can't Get Enough of Your Love, Moving On. Steve Miller Band: Jet Airliner, Keep On Rocking Me Baby. Eagles: Already Gone. Boston: Smokin, Led Zeppelin: You Shook Me, Cream: Crossroads, Eric Clapton: Lay Down Sally, Johnny Winter, Stevie Ray Vaughn: House Is Rockin', T-Rex: Bang A Gong, James Taylor: Steam Roller Blues, Alvin Lee (Ten Years After): Goin' Home,

Blues Rhythm Pattern Lesson

The following video lesson shows how to play a 12-bar blues in A using this classic rhythm pattern.Follow video link for online lesson.

Tab of Key of A Blues Rhythm


12 Bar Blues

Most typical blues progressions use three chords and is a repeating 12 measure pattern. A measure is 4 counts and is also know as a bar. So you could say that a typical blues is a repeating 12 bar cycle. This repeating 12-bar cycle goes by the common name of 12 bar blues. You've got to admit that sounds cooler than the 12 measure blues!

  • 4 bars of A7:
  • 2 bars of D7:
  • 2 bars of A7:
  • 1 bar of E7
  • 1 bar of D7
  • 1 bar of A7
  • 1 bar of E7

Add them up = 12

/ A7 / A7 / A7 / A7 / D7 / D7 / A7 / A7 / E7 / D7 / A7 / E7/ Repeat

A common variation:

/ A7 / D7 / A7 / A7 / D7 / D7 / A7 / A7 / E7 / D7 / A7 / E7/ Repeat

More about the Blues Rhythm Pattern

For those of you that know a little theory, this classic blues rhythm pattern is a 5th interval (aka power chord) alternating with a Major 6th interval reached by the pinky. This 5th to 6th sound is the staple for this rhythm's "melody." Not shown in these examples is another variation where one reaches the pinky (ouch) one more fret to get the dominant 7th sound. So the rhythm's melody becomes 5th, 6th, 7th, 6th, usually two picks per interval.

Palm Mute It!

It is usually better to lay the palm of your strumming hand on top of the strings near the bridge so as to create a tighter sounding rhythm.


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