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6/14/09

7 Essential Blues Guitar Chords

Blues Guitar Chords Tutorial:
7 Essential Blues Guitar Chords by Ed Vickerry

This article will teach you how to play 7 essential blues guitar chords. Using these 7 chords, and your knowledge of the twelve bar blues progression, you will be able to play blues guitar in 5 essential keys: C, A, G, E, and D. If you don't know the twelve bar blues, see my article, "Blues Guitar Chords Tutorial: The Twelve Bar Blues"

How to read the chord diagrams
This article uses a simple text based form of chord diagram. Each of the six strings on the guitar is represented with 3 numbers, like this: 1/2/3. The first number is the string (the strings are numbered form 1 through 6, where 1 is the thinnest, or high E string, and 6 is the thickest, or low E string. The second number is the fret to press down on, in this case the second fret. The third number is which finger to use, in this case the third finger.

So 1/2/3 means press down on the first string, at the second fret, using the third finger. The letter X in place of the second and third numbers would mean don't play that string as part of the chord; the number 0 would mean play the open, unfretted string.

A whole chord diagram would look like this:

6/X/X 5/3/3 4/2/2 3/0/0 2/1/1 1/0/0

To make this chord, which happens to be a C chord, you don't play the sixth string at all, you fret the fifth string at the third fret with your third finger, fret the fourth string at the second fret with your second finger, play the open third string, fret the second string at the first fret with your first finger, and play the open first string.

STOP! Before you go any further, make sure that you understand how to read the chord diagrams. Read the previous section again if you need to, and make sure you understand it.

The 7 Essential Blues Guitar Chords
C7: 6/X/X 5/3/3 4/2/2 3/3/4 2/1/1 1/0/0
A7: 6/0/0 5/0/0/ 4/2/2 3/0/0 2/2/3 1/0/0
G7: 6/3/3 5/2/2 4/0/0 3/0/0 2/0/0 1/1/1
E7: 6/0/0 5/2/2 4/0/0 3/1/1 2/0/0 1/0/0
D7: 6/X/X 5/0/0 4/0/0 3/2/2 2/1/1 1/2/3
B7: 6/X/X 5/2/2 4/1/1 3/2/3 2/0/0 1/2/4
F7: 6/X/X 5/X/X 4/3/3 3/2/2 2/4/4 1/1/1
another way to make F7: 6/1/1 5/3/3 4/1/1 3/2/2 2/1/1 1/1/1
(for this one, lay your first finger across all six strings at the first fret)

Now that you know the 7 essential blues guitar chords, you can use them to play the blues in the five CAGED keys:

Blues Chords in C
I chord is C7: 6/X/X 5/3/3 4/2/2 3/3/4 2/1/1 1/0/0
IV chord is F7: 6/X/X 5/X/X 4/3/3 3/2/2 2/4/4 1/1/1
V chord is G7: 6/3/3 5/2/2 4/0/0 3/0/0 2/0/0 1/1/1

Blues Chords in A:
I chord is A7: 6/0/0 5/0/0/ 4/2/2 3/0/0 2/2/3 1/0/0
IV chord is D7: 6/X/X 5/0/0 4/0/0 3/2/2 2/1/1 1/2/3
V chord is E7: 6/0/0 5/2/2 4/0/0 3/1/1 2/0/0 1/0/0

Blues Chords in G:
I chord is G7: 6/3/3 5/2/2 4/0/0 3/0/0 2/0/0 1/1/1
IV chord is C7: 6/X/X 5/3/3 4/2/2 3/3/4 2/1/1 1/0/0
V chord is D7: 6/X/X 5/0/0 4/0/0 3/2/2 2/1/1 1/2/3

Blues Chords in E:
I chord is E7: 6/0/0 5/2/2 4/0/0 3/1/1 2/0/0 1/0/0
IV chord is A7: 6/0/0 5/0/0/ 4/2/2 3/0/0 2/2/3 1/0/0
V chord is B7: 6/X/X 5/2/2 4/1/1 3/2/3 2/0/0 1/2/4

Blues Chords in D:
I chord is D7: 6/X/X 5/0/0 4/0/0 3/2/2 2/1/1 1/2/3
IV chord is G7: 6/3/3 5/2/2 4/0/0 3/0/0 2/0/0 1/1/1
V chord isA7: 6/0/0 5/0/0/ 4/2/2 3/0/0 2/2/3 1/0/0

This article has taught you how to play 7 essential blues guitar chords. If you know the twelve bar blues progression, you can use these 7 chords to play blues guitar in 5 essential keys: C, A, G, E, and D.

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