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12 Bar Blues In Every Key

The Transcribing Course

If you want to play blues you HAVE to be able to play a 12 Bar Blues in all 12 keys. If you can't do that then this lesson is not for you. Go check that out first.

Now you also need to know that all 12 Bar Blues are not exactly the same, they all have variations to the way that they play the groove, the order of the chords, the feel, the speed, the style - all so many variables to be thinking about as you transcribe.

The point here is to start of just getting the key and the chords - don't worry about the details, just get into working out the key quickly and getting to grips with the chords that go together commonly.

If you are up for it - then get in and have look at the way the groove is played and the lead lines and all that - but just start off with working out a way to play it using simple shuffles like I show you in "12 Bar in 12 Keys".

So what I have here are a list of 12 Bar based tunes for you to work out. They all have quirks but nothing that you shouldn't be able to get your head around. You can check out the correct answers with the links underneath with the reveal :)

So grab your guitar, download the tracks and get bluesin' (is that a word?). ;)

iTunes links
All the song titles links below are to iTunes for you to get the track - if you already have it then just get stuck right into working it out! You could always use the short clips that iTunes give you to try and work it out... that will sharpen your ear up pretty quick!

So don't be cheating now! Really be sure you have the tune sorted before looking at the answers... try not to cheat - you'll only be cheating yourself.

Variations on a theme
Remember the 12 Bar Blues Variations from the Beginners Course. Maybe you might like to try and play them up the neck too - they might come in handy for some of these tunes ;) hint hint...

Once you have worked it out - you could always write out the lyrics and then write where the chords change if you wanted to...

Advanced Exercises
So more advanced player will probably understand already that there is much much more to a blues than just a key... so a more advanced exercise it not just to work out the key but also to be able to play it in exactly the same way - same touch - same groove, same chords, same everything... Don't worry if you can't do that yet - but that is what more advanced players should be doing. And tabbing out the results is not a bad idea either...

More tunes?
You don't have to stick to what I have here. If you really dig a band then get in there and work out as much stuff as you can by them... just DO IT. There is no substitute.

Songs to Transcribe

Remember that these might not all be a regular 12 Bar Blues, there might be some other chords in there too - but they are all mainly I,IV, V based so you should be fine... Off you go now :) they are not really in order, so just have a listen and start with ones you like!

Rockin All Over The World - Status Quo

Click here to see the key, but only to check, right? This one is in the key of C - it's an 8 Bar Blues, so write down how many bars you stay on each chord too! Once you can do this one - you should check out as much Quo as you can, it's all similar and pretty easy to work out. And plenty more advanced licks to learn too!

Keep Your Hands To Yourself - Georgia Satellites

Click here to see the key, but only to check, right? This is a 12 Bar in A, with some interesting stops and awesome solos too if you fancy a go at them. This whole album is great for transcribing, I think I did this whole record when I was in my teens. Love it.

Johnny B Goode - Chuck Berry

Click here to see the key, but only to check, right? OK, now we are rocking. This classic is in the key of Bb. Don't be put off by the chords at the start, it just kinda starts on a funny chord before hitting the main standard chord sequence! Again with Chuck berry you can just try and learn as many tunes as you can. Just buy an album and work out how to play every song.

How Blue Can You Get - BB King

Click here to see the key, but only to check, right? This one is in D - bit more of a challenge cos the chords are not quite as straight ahead and it's mainly piano - but that shouldn't stop you! Jam along with it.

Before You Accuse Me - Eric Clapton

Click here to see the key, but only to check, right? It's in the key of E (and uses lots of open 7th chords too

The Stumble - Freddy King

Click here to see the key, but only to check, right? This is a classic. It's in the key of E, but it's not a 12 bar sequence. It's mostly I, IV and V chord but you also get a Bb in there and a I, VI, II V I turnaround... E C# F# B E. Great track. Freddy is the master.

Rock 'n' Roll - Led Zeppelin

Click here to see the key, but only to check, right? This one is a classic - you should have found the key of A pretty quick... now can you work out the variations... the riff is in open position... have a go, it's fun :)

Rock 'n' Roll Outlaw - Rose Tattoo

Click here to see the key, but only to check, right? This tune kicks ass. It's in the key of E, some of it is the classic shuffle pattern and there are some open chords. Proper rock.

Talk To Your Daughter - Robben Ford

Click here to see the key, but only to check, right? This track blows my mind, the playing the tone, just love it. This one is in the Key of G and has some little riffs to have a go at too, but within the 12 Bar Blues format. And the lead playing in this is great fun to work out if you have the time and skills for it.

Smokin In The Boys Room - Motley Crue

Click here to see the key, but only to check, right? Huh? Motley Crue?? Well yeah... these rock bands from the 90's had a lot of stuff that was kinda based on blues, and this one is in D but also has that Bb in it which is a common in Elvis era stuff. Lots of pop metal from this period uses the I, IV V stuff and lots of it is pretty easy to work out!

Hope you have enjoyed these ones, just get out there and do a bunch more yourself now! :).


Lesson ID: TR-202