All Levels


iOS Apps by justinguitar

The JustinGuitar Store


Buying things through the links below cost you no more but contribute a little to the site! Thanks, J.


Justinguitar - Free Guitar Lessons

12 Bar Blues Variations

The Beginner's Course

This lesson is loads of fun, improvising with your rhythm guitar playing. Too cool for skool.

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.


Watch The Video Lesson



Download the pdf file here. Or just check out the tabs below...


Basic Pattern

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

12 bar var 5


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.

12 bar var 1

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.

12 bar var 2

Variation 3

This is a mixture of the two above things.

12 bar var 3

Variation 4

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

12 bar var 4



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!


Let's go back to blues lead now and look at BC-195 • Minor Pentatonic Pattern

Beginner products you may like from
Justinguitar Beginner's Course DVD set
Justinguitar Beginners Songbook
Justinguitar Beginners Songbook
Beginners Course Book
Practical Music Theory

I have five great beginners products that will help you make the most of this course and you'll find them all at The Official JustinGuitar Store. If you want to really support the site then please buy direct from us. :)

If you like what I do then PLEASE CONSIDER BUYING SOMETHING or making a DONATION.


Lesson ID: BC-194