Easy 12-bar Blues Chords for Guitar


I think you’ll agree that playing the blues is a ton of fun on guitar.

Whether you play solo, jam along with tracks, or take your skills to a jam session, nothing beats cranking your amp and killin’ it over a 12-bar progression.

In this lesson, you dig deep into the rhythm side of blues guitar by learning four essential types of blues chord shapes on your fretboard.

You learn how to play open chords, barre chords, extended chords, and rootless chords in 3 keys as you take these shapes to backing tracks and beyond.

Having a solid vocabulary of blues chords gives you different colors to play with over any blues song and it builds your blues rhythm confidence at the same time.

Grab your guitar, dial in your favorite tone, and have fun exploring these essential and easy blue chord shapes with these creative workouts for all levels.

Table of Contents

Open Blues Guitar Chords

In this first section, you learn open chords for three different blues keys, G, A, and E, all over a 12-bar progression.

Open chords are great for jamming blues as they have a “fat” sound to them, a big low string tone, and are just fun to play.

Even if you’re a more advanced player, knowing and mastering open blues chords is essential.

So, spend some time to learn, or review, these open shapes, as they set up your playing for the more advanced chords in this lesson below.

To begin, here are the open chords for a 12-bar G blues progression.

Start by learning these shapes, memorizing them, and experimenting with them on your own.

Then, when ready, take them to the backing track below to apply these chords to a full blues jam.

Have fun as you explore these new chord shapes and use them to jam over a 12-bar blues track.

Now that you have the chords under your fingers, jam them over the G blues backing track here.

Experiment with different rhythms and picking patterns as you play these new chords over a full blues progression.

Blues in G Backing Track

You’re now ready to explore open chords over the blues in A progression.

Start by playing and memorizing these 3 open chord shapes as you get ready to jam them over the 12-bar blues progression below.

Have fun getting to know and experimenting with these A blues open chord shapes on your fretboard.

Now that you have these open chords under your fingers, jam them over the A blues backing track here.

Experiment with different rhythms and picking patterns as you play these new chords over a full blues progression.

Blues in A Backing Track

To finish up this section, here are the open chords for a 12-bar E blues progression.

Start by learning these shapes, memorizing them, and experimenting with them on your own.

Then, when ready, take them to the backing track below to apply these chords to a full blues jam.

Have fun as you explore these new E blues chord shapes and use them to jam over a 12-bar blues track.

Now that you have these open chords under your fingers, you can jam them over the E blues backing track.

Experiment with different picking patterns and rhythms as you dig into these open chords over a 12-bar E blues progression.

Blues in E Backing Track

Blues Guitar Barre Chords


Here, you learn about blues barre chords in 3 different keys, G, A, and E.

Barre chords are “moveable” shapes, where the red dot is the root note, and wherever you place that red dot for each chord is the name of the shape.

So, if you place the red dot on the 6th fret of the 6th string, that’s a Bb chord.

If you place the red dot on the 3rd fret of the 5th string, that’s a C chord.

The shapes always stay the same for each chord, then you move those shapes around to play them in every key.

Alright, let’s go play these essential blues chords on guitar!

To begin, here are the barre chords for a 12-bar G blues progression.

Start by learning these chords and memorizing them as you experiment with them on your own.

When you’re ready, apply these chords to the backing track below to get them into a blues jam situation on your fretboard.

Have fun as you experiment with these new chords and use them to jam over a 12-bar blues progression.

Now that you have the chords memorized, play them over the G blues backing track here.

Experiment with the rhythm and picking patterns as you jam these new chords over a full blues progression.

Blues in G Backing Track

You’re now ready to explore barre chords over the blues in A progression.

Start by playing and memorizing these 3 barre chord shapes as you prepare to jam them over the 12-bar blues in A progression below.

Have fun getting to know and experimenting with these A blues barre chord shapes on your fretboard.

Now that you have these barre chords under your fingers, jam them over the A blues backing track.

Experiment with different rhythms and picking patterns as you play these barre chords over a 12-bar blues progression.

Blues in A Backing Track

To finish up this section, here are the barre chords for a 12-bar E blues progression.

Start by learning these shapes, memorizing them, and experimenting with them on your own.

Then, when ready, take them to the backing track below to apply these chords to a full blues jam.

Have fun as you explore these E blues barre chord shapes and use them to jam over a 12-bar blues track.

Now that you have these blues barre chords under your fingers, you can take them to the E backing track.

Experiment with different picking patterns and rhythms as you dig into these barre chords over a 12-bar E blues progression.

Blues in E Backing Track

Extended Blues Guitar Chords


In this section, you move beyond 7th chords as you extend your blues shapes up to 9th and 13th sounds on the fretboard.

These extended chord shapes are excellent for creating new colors and textures in your blues rhythm guitar playing.

You can play extended chords for every chord in a 12-bar blues.

Or, you can mix them up with open and barre 7th chords, as you learned earlier in this lesson.

Either way, extended chords give you new colors to experiment with as you bring them to any blues jam.

They might take a little time to get used to, especially if 9ths and 13ths are new sounds to you.

So, play each shape, sing the root note if you can, add them to the tracks, and have fun adding these new chord colors to your blues rhythm jams.

To begin, here are the extended chords for a 12-bar G blues progression.

Learn these chords and memorize them as you experiment with each shape on your own.

When ready, play these chords over the backing track below to get them into a blues jam on your fretboard.

Have fun as you experiment with these chords and jam them over a 12-bar G blues progression.

Now that you have the chords memorized, play them over the G blues backing track here.

Experiment with different rhythms and picking patterns as you explore these new chords over a full blues progression.

Blues in G Backing Track

You’re now ready to explore extended chords over the blues in A progression.

Start by playing and memorizing these 3 extended chord shapes as you prepare to jam them over the 12-bar blues progression below.

Have fun getting to know and experimenting with these extended A blues chord shapes on your fretboard.

Now that you have these extended blues chords under your fingers, you can take them to the A 12-bar backing track.

Experiment with different rhythms and picking patterns as you jam these extended chords over a 12-bar blues progression.

Blues in A Backing Track

To finish up this section, here are the extended chords for a 12-bar E blues progression.

Start by learning these shapes, memorizing them, and experimenting with them on your own.

Then, when ready, take them to the backing track below to apply these chords to a full blues jam.

Have fun as you explore these extended chord shapes and use them to jam over a 12-bar blues track.

Now that you have these extended chords under your fingers, you can take them to the E blues backing track.

Experiment with different picking patterns and rhythms as you dig into these extended chords over a 12-bar E blues progression.

Blues in E Backing Track

Rootless Blues Guitar Chords


The final section of this blues chords primer deals with rootless chords.

Rootless chords are shapes that contain all the notes you need to sound the progression, without including the root note.

As you often jam with a bassist, who plays the root note, it’s not needed in your chords, especially extended chords on guitar.

The trick to playing extended blues chords is “seeing” the root note but not playing it.

If you can learn to visualize the root note as a reference, but not play it, you can use that note to quickly grab rootless shapes in any key.

As you play through each chord below, see the closest root note below that shape, just don’t play it.

Then, use that visualized root note to play these shapes in different keys.

Alright, grab your guitar and let’s go play!

Here are the rootless chords for a 12-bar G blues progression.

Learn and memorize these shapes as you experiment with each chord on your own.

Then, when ready, play these chords over the backing track below to get them onto a full blues progression.

Have fun as you jam and experiment with these chords over a 12-bar G blues progression.


Now that you have the chords memorized, play them over this G blues backing track.

Experiment with different rhythms and picking patterns as you explore these new chords over a full blues progression.

Blues in G Backing Track

You’re now ready to explore rootless chords over the blues in A progression.

Start by playing and memorizing these 3 new chord shapes as you prepare to jam them over the full blues progression below.

Have fun experimenting and getting to know these new A blues chord shapes on your fretboard.

Now that you have these rootless blues chords under your fingers, you can take them to the A 12-bar backing track.

Experiment with different rhythms and picking patterns as you play these rootless chords over a 12-bar A blues progression.

Blues in A Backing Track

To finish up this section, here are the rootless chords for a 12-bar E blues progression.

Start by learning these shapes, memorizing them, and experimenting with them on your own.

Then, when ready, take them to the backing track below to apply these chords to a full blues jam.

Have fun as you explore these rootless chord shapes and use them to jam over a 12-bar blues track.

Now that you have these rootless blues chords under your fingers, you can take them to the E backing track.

Experiment with different picking patterns and rhythms as you get into these rootless chords over a 12-bar E blues progression.

Blues in E Backing Track

Blues Rhythm Guitar Pack