How to Play the Blues on the Guitar

By Contributor
Play the Blues on the Guitar

How to Play the Blues on the Guitar. Learn the basic blues rhythm. Get to know the blues pattern. Practice the basic strumming. Get a feel for the blues!

Strumming the Blues

Practice the upstroke and downstroke in the blues shuffle rhythm on the E chord, where | = down, ^ = up: | ^ | ^ | ^ | ^ , beginning with "1and" on the downstroke and "the" on the upstroke: 1and the 2and the 3and the 4and the.

Play four bars of this on the E-major chord, followed by two bars on A major, one bar on the B7 chord, one bar on A major, and back to E. It looks like this (where / = bar symbol): (E)|^|^|^|^/|^|^|^|^/|^|^|^|^/|^|^|^|^ (A)|^|^|^|^/|^|^|^|^/ (E)|^|^|^|^/|^|^|^|^/ (B7)|^|^|^|^/ (A)|^|^|^|^/ (E)|^|^|^|^. This is the basic 12-bar blues pattern. Most blues songs are molded in this pattern.

Play this pattern over the following song: (E)Woke up this morning, got a hole in my shoes (E) (E); (A)Woke up this morning, got a hole in my shoes (E) (E); (B7)Plus my baby just left me, (A)it's the same old (E)blues.

Make up your own words if you can't feel it. Once you feel it, you may call yourself a blues player.

The Blues Rhythm

Finger the E-major chord on your guitar.

Strum your guitar using downstrokes, counting 1-2-3-4 slowly (4/4 rhythm, playing quarter notes).

Change your rhythm to: 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 (playing eighth notes).

Change to counting: 1 andthe 2 andthe 3 andthe 4 (playing triplets). This creates the basic blues rhythm.

Count: (1 and) the (2 and) the (3 and) the (four and) the. Now you've got the blues shuffle rhythm.

Practice this rhythmic pattern until you feel you've mastered it.



Listen to as many recordings of blues guitarists like B.B. King, Albert King, Eric Clapton and Jonny Lang as you can. Learn from the masters - it's the best way to become an accomplished blues guitar player.