Blues Guitar Turnarounds

Blues turnarounds are guitar licks that are typically played within the last 1 or 2 bars of the 12 bar blues and set up or "turnaround" the progression back to the first bar or to end the song.

Blues turnarounds use parts of the blues scale and usually use the V chord to chromatically lead back to the I chord.

The guitar tabs below show some very common ways to play blues guitar turnarounds in different keys.


This turnaround uses diminished triads before returning to the major triad or chord in the key of E major.

   G#dim Gdim F#dim   E   
e|--4-4--3-3--2-2--2--0--|
B|--3-3--2-2--1-1--1--0--|
G|--4-4--3-3--2-2--2--1--|
D|-----------------------|
A|-----------------------|
E|-----------------------|

A variation of the tab above could be played like this, adding a hammer on:

e|----4-----3-----2-------0--|
B|---------------------------|
G|--4---4-3---3-2---2-0h1----|
D|---------------------------|
A|---------------------------|
E|---------------------------|

Another variation using double stop 6ths (intervals of 6). Use your fingers to pluck the strings at the same time.

e|--4-4--3-3--2-2------0--|
B|------------------------|
G|--4-4--3-3--2-2--0h1-1--|
D|------------------------|
A|------------------------|
E|------------------------|
						

This varation uses dominant 7 chords as a turnaround - notice the double stop 6ths from the tab above are used in the dominant 7 chords. Let the chords ring out a little longer.

    B7  C7  B7   E7  
e|--2---3---2----0--|
B|--x---x---x----0--|
G|--2---3---2----1--|
D|--1---2---1----0--|
A|--2---3---2----2--|
E|---------------0--|
						

This tab uses the same dominant 7 chord turnaround as above, but in the key of A major.

    E7  F7  E7   A7  
e|--7---8---7----5--|
B|--x---x---x----5--|
G|--7---8---7----6--|
D|--6---7---6----5--|
A|--7---8---7----7--|
E|---------------5--|
						

This tab also uses a turnaround shown above, using double stops, but in the key of A major

e|--9-9--8-8--7-7------5--|
B|------------------------|
G|--9-9--8-8--7-7--5h6----|
D|------------------------|
A|------------------------|
E|------------------------|