12 Bar Blues Variations

Once you've mastered the basic 12-Bar Blues rhythm it is time to move onto using variations on the basic pattern, allowing you to improvise within the rhythm part. This is great fun and pretty easy.

Basic Pattern

Which you should have had down from the last lesson. If not please go back and check it out... This is revision :)


Variation 1

his variation only changes the two notes on beats 3 +. Reach out and play them with your little finger. Make sure you leave your 1st finger down in the right place; don't let it slip up.


Variation 2

This one introduces using the 2nd and 3rd fingers on the fifth string, a kind of bass effect. Make sure you pick the right notes; try to keep it clean, and don't pick strings that you shouldn't.


Variation 3

This is a mixture of the two above things.


Variation 4

This is another variation on the above patterns. Try this one, then try to make up your own!!.



It's important that you try to make up your own patterns. The only rule: make it sound cool! So experiment, twist and turn these patterns, listen out for variations on recordings and try to copy them,

You might have noticed too that in the video for this lesson I am sometimes using a palm mute (see lesson BC-192) between some of the notes to keep them short. As you progress you can have a go at this and see if you can get your hand to do it. I'm just using the outside palm of my picking hand. The trick is not to think about the technique too much and just try and make your guitar make the sound you want and leave it up to your hand to sort out the technicalities!

Moving On...

Let's go back to blues lead now and look at minor pentatonic patterns.