This is a course for beginners on basic acoustic beginner blues chords. This lesson will teach you your first three blues chords. These are great chords that hundreds of songs are built around. They can be applied in a 12-bar.
Don’t forget that your string numbers are #1, which starts at the bottom – the high “E” string, and #6 is at the top – the low “E” string. Smallest number = smallest string. Biggest number = thickest string.
Also the fingers on your left hand are pointer finger is # 1, middle finger #2, ring finger #3, pinky #4. They don’t technically count the thumb, but go ahead and use what you’ve got!
The first chord is E7. It’s going to be the number one chord – the key chord. The easiest way to play it is to use your first finger on the third string, first fret (the wires across the neck are the frets). Your second finger will go to the fifth string, second fret. Depending on the size of your hand, you’ll have to find that comfortable spot for your thumb. You can play E7 at least six different ways, but this is the easiest for a beginner. When you practice your chords, pick through the strings until you get them all clear. Some people have a problem with their second finger if it’s really meaty. That’s where you have to arch your hand so that you don’t cover two strings at once. You want to play all six strings for this chord.
The Blues use a lot of “7” chords. They aren’t true major, nor are they true minor chords. They’re what some people call a “fence-sitter” chord, meaning it could be either major or minor.
The next chord is an A7. Place your second finger on the fourth string, second fret. Your third finger will be on the second string, second fret. You need to strum all six strings for this chord. Watch out for your fingers because they are closer together. Keep an eye on your wrist and thumb position – make some minor adjustments until you find that sweet spot.
The hardest chord is this next one. Going from E7 to A7 isn’t that bad – take some time and forget the strumming – just move your left hand back and forth from E7 to A7. But the hardest chord is the B7. It’s a 5-string chord – you don’t use the low E. You can simplify this a little bit, but you do want to use all four fingers if you can.
Place your first finger on the fourth string, first fret. Your second finger goes on the fifth string, second fret. Your third finger goes on the third string, second fret, and your pinky (fourth finger) goes on the first string, second fret. This will take a little more strength, but it’s a great sounding chord.
If you’re struggling with this, watch your thumb. Once your hand is trained, it just goes there naturally. But learning it the first time can take some time.
You can just play the B7 with only the bottom three strings, but if you’re going to do that, keep using the same fingers as you would for the whole chord. Then you can slowly add the rest of your fingers when you get better. But keep using the same fingers as you would for the full chord so you don’t train yourself into a bad habit.
Last but not least is the 12-bar. 12-bar is not just for the blues – it is a common bar grouping. Most of them are in 4/4. First thing you have to do is to understand the structure of it. 12-bar is 12 bars of 4 counts. There will be 4 bars of the I chord (E7), 2 bars of the IV chord (A7), back to 2 bars of the I chord (E7), 1 bar on the V chord (B7), 1 bar on the IV chord (A7), and 2 bars of the I chord (E7).
You can learn the 12-bar easiest in three sections of 4 bars each. The first four bars are just E7. If you’re a total raw beginner, just count 4 beats per bar – four strums per bar. You could do down up strums and 1/8th notes.
The next section has the two bars of the A7 chord, and again two bars of the E7 chord.
The last four bars goes B7 for one bar, A7 for one bar, and E7 for two bars.
That’s your 12-bar!