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James Walkers

Guitar Blog

GUITAR STUDIES - BLUES 01


The ‘Open E’ Blues scale

This open E Blues scale has been used in blues music for over 100 years, from Robert Johnson to Stevie Ray Vaughn all the great blues players love this position. It contains 6 notes, some of these notes are played on the open string hence the name ‘open e’ blues . Below is a 2 octave Blues scale in the key of E, first ascending then descending.



12 Bar Blues Form

What I mean by 'form' is how the blues is structured, blues music as well as jazz uses a different system of structure than most songs, most songs will go something like 'intro, verse 1, chorus 1, verse 2, chorus 2, bridge, verse 3' etc. With blues music they usually play the same 12 bar structure repeated, each taking a solo per turn or finding other clever ways to keep the song moving and progressing. The classic 12 bar blues consists of 4 bars of the 'I' chord, 2 bars of the 'IV' chord, 2 bars of the 'I' chord, then one bar each of 'V', 'IV', 'I', 'V'. In the key of E this gives us the chords shown below.


The Shuffle

The thing that gives the blues its signature rhythm and feel is the shuffle, this is a rhythmic technique and difficult to get down at first but easy when you know how. The trick is to think of your playing by counting ‘1-2-3-1-2-3-1-2-3-1-2-3’ in clean even counts. Then to play a shuffle like the one shown down below, play the first strum on the ‘1’ and the second strum in the ‘3’ and keep repeating, this should create a shuffle rhythm. Below is a classic blues shuffle riff moving through all 12 bars of the blues form in the key of E.


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