The blues is something that has permeated most of the music we hear. The only styles that are typically without the blues are classical and death metal. Everything in between uses bluesy ideas in some fashion. Player like Stevie Ray Vaughn, Jimi Hendrix, and Buddy Guy are mostly blues players. Guitarist like Slash, Tony Iommi, and Angus Young are blues guitarist in a hard rock band. You can also hear a lot of bluesy ideas from metal guitarists like Kirk Hammet, Dimebag Darrell, and Zakk Wylde.
The point is the blues sound is everywhere. Even if you’re not a fan of traditional blues, understanding the blues will help explain where a lot of ideas from famous guitarists come from.
The blues can be very repetitive, which at first can be boring once you understand why. A lot of the vocals have a similar call and response sound. When performing, I try to avoid playing certain songs in the same set because they’re are so similar. Songs like “Texas Flood” and “Steamroller Blues” are basically the same song. I’ve even considered mixing some of them together to see if anyone noticed. I like to compare it to the primary colors. We get every color in the rainbow by mixing red, yellow, and blue. With the blues, we try squeeze out a lot of ideas from three chords.
Where it becomes different is how you choose to play over it. Although the 12 bar blues format is mostly the same, how you choose to play it can change quite a bit. There are also many methods to choose from to solo over it as well. The way B.B. King soloed over a 12 bar blue sounds a lot different than the way Stevie Ray Vaughan would. Players like Scott Henderson and Robben Ford bring a whole other dimension with the use of Melodic Minor and Diminished scales.
The foundation of the blues is easy to learn and it is a great way to learn how to solo and play over chord changes.
What’s in the Video
I put together a very stripped down version of the 12 bar blues. As my blues series progresses, I will add different elements teaching the various way to play through a 12 bar blues.
Below is the tablature for the Easy 12 bar blues for Rhythm Guitar. Click Here or the speaker to hear it.