The 12 Bar Blues

The 12 bar blues is a popular structure for blues and rock songs. The 12 bar blues tyically uses the I-IV-V chord progression.

Blues music is often played in what is known as a triplet feel. To play in a triplet feel, count:
ONE and a TWO and a THREE and a FOUR and a ...

e|---------------------------------------|
B|---------------------------------------|
G|---------------------------------------|
D|---------------------------------------|
A|--2------2--4-----4--2-----2--4-----4--|
E|--0------0--0-----0--0-----0--0-----0--|
    1 and  a  2 and a  3 and a  4 and a...

The guitar tab below shows one of the most common ways to play the 12 bar blues in the key of E major.

E (I), A (IV), B (V)

   E                                                                      
e|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|
B|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|
G|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|
D|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|
A|-2-2-4-4-2-2-4-4-|-2-2-4-4-2-2-4-4-|-2-2-4-4-2-2-4-4-|-2-2-4-4-2-2-4-4-|
E|-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-|-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-|-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-|-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-|
   A                                   E                                  
e|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|
B|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|
G|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|
D|-2-2-4-4-2-2-4-4-|-2-2-4-4-2-2-4-4-|-----------------|-----------------|
A|-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-|-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-|-2-2-4-4-2-2-4-4-|-2-2-4-4-2-2-4-4-|
E|-----------------|-----------------|-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-|-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-|
   B                 A                 E                                  
e|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|
B|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|
G|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|
D|-4-4-6-6-4-4-6-6-|-2-2-4-4-2-2-4-4-|-----------------|-----------------|
A|-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-|-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-|-2-2-4-4-2-2-4-4-|-2-2-4-4-2-2-4-4-|
E|-----------------|-----------------|-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-|-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-|

You can also play the V chord (B) on the last bar:

   B                 A                 E                 B                
e|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|
B|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|
G|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|
D|-4-4-6-6-4-4-6-6-|-2-2-4-4-2-2-4-4-|-----------------|-4-4-6-6-4-4-6-6-|
A|-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-|-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-|-2-2-4-4-2-2-4-4-|-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-|
E|-----------------|-----------------|-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-|-----------------|

Blues Guitar Turnarounds