Lessons

Easy One Chord Blues Guitar

Would you like to learn to play easy blues guitar with only one chord position, without moving all over the fretboard? Well, here’s a lesson that shows you how to play cool sounding 12 bar blues guitar with only one easy beginner chord position.

12 Bar Blues Recap

First up, you need to know the 12 bar blues pattern. If you don’t know it already then let’s take a quick look at the chords normally used to play it. We’ll take a look at an example in the key of E major, a common key for blues guitar songs. The pattern, not surprisingly, contains 12 bars like this.

/ E7 / E7 / E7 / E7 / A7 / A7 / E7 / E7 / B7 / A7 / E7 / B7 /

Now you know what the 12 bar blues looks like let’s see how this pattern can be played with only one chord position.

D7 Chord Position

To play our really easy 12 bar blues we’re going to use the simple D7 chord shape shown in the chord diagram below. This is a chord that any beginner guitar player learns early so shouldn’t be too difficult.

1  |---|-3-|---|
2  |-1-|---|---|
3  |---|-2-|---|
4  |---|---|---|
5  |---|---|---|
6  |---|---|---|

Finger the chord by placing your index finger on the second string at the first fret. Then place your second finger on the third string at the second fret. Finally put your third finger down on the first string at the second fret too.

Notice how your finger tips make a little triangle formation on the bottom three strings? For this easy blues progression you’ll need to strum or pluck only these three bottom strings.

Practice grabbing that chord position to get comfortable with it, then we can move on learn how to play a 12 bar blues with it.

12 Bar Blues In E With D7 Chord Shape

To play the 12 bar blues we’ll take the D7 chord shape and move it up and down over only three frets. We start with the E7 chord which you play by placing the D7 shape two frets higher – your first finger at the base of the triangle should be on the third fret of the second string.

We’re going to make the other two chords of the 12 bar blues – A7 and B7 – really easy to play by using a little trick called a flat fifth chord substitution. You don’t have to worry about what this is or why it works for now, just use and enjoy it.

The A7 chord substitution is played by sliding the E7 chord down just one fret. Your index finger should be on the second fret of the second string. The B7 is played by moving the E7 position up one fret, index finger on the fourth fret of the second string.

Using these chord substitutions has the neat advantage of putting all three chords on adjacent frets, and even better with exactly the same chord shape. All you have to do is move this shape down one fret or up one fret from the starting position on E7, things could hardly be any easier, could they?

Now you can enjoy playing the 12 bar blues progression in the key of E major with this easy blues guitar chord trick.