The world of blues rhythm is the focus of Jon Bishop for this lesson. It covers key chord shapes - some you’ll know but many you won’t - then places them in context. In a rhythm rut? Then read on! All the Blues chords you’ll ever need!
Welcome to this month’s big cover feature. The aim of this lesson is to take tried and tested fingerings for the various chord types you will need for blues accompaniment, then provide you with chord workouts and some actual blues pregressions in which to employ them.
I say “tried and tested” but my guess is that quite a few of these shapes will be new to you, so there’s a reasonable learning curve here too - plus it’s not just an impassive list of chord boxes with no context in which to sit them.
Many players have all the soloing moves, but when it’s time to take a back seat they seem lost as to what to do. Often you see them bashing out full barre chords and bringing no great harmonic or rhythmic interest to the table. If that’s you, then this is the perfect feature to help you out of that rut.
To get you started, we have provided chord fingerings in all positions on the neck. These are in the guitar-friendly key of A, but are of course moveable to any key you like. And remember, you don’t always have to play the whole chord - two or three notes are often very effective. You also don’t always need to have the root note in the bass, and you will notice some of our chords start with something other than the root as the first note. This can sound sophisticated but does take a little practice to get used to. We didn’t have the space in a single feature to list all the two- or three-note versions of these chords as the options are endless, so you can experiment and find permutations that suit each situation.
Our first six pages of music list the chord fingerings, and of course there’s an audio demonstration so you can hear what they sound like too. There’s then a rhythm guitar piece that follows a 12-bar blues progression and places the various chords from that section into a functioning rhythm part.
The final four pages concentrate on various types of blues progression, with a bass and drums backing. Here all of the chord types are mixed up and used in a musical setting. The chord families we are covering are 7ths, 9ths, 11ths, 13ths, Altered Dominant and Diminished. They really are all the blues chords you’ll ever need, so let’s get going! Many thanks to Universal Audio for the loan of the Apollo interface for the recording.
Robben Ford knows what to play when not soloing