Northern Virginia VA Guitar Lessons

Dedicated to

beginner & intermediate

acoustic guitar


Weekday slots (9 AM to 4 PM) are still available.
My apologies, but I am currently BOOKED FULL for Weeknights and Weekends.
Changes do occur, so please contact me to be placed on a short waiting list.

Dirk Johnson,
Guitar Instructor

Acoustic Blues Guitar – Your First Chord Progression

by Justin Wong

The legendary acoustic blues guitarists – Eric Clapton, Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson, Django Reindhart, BB King – all have one thing at the heart of their blues music: the 12-bar blues progression.

What is the 12 bar blues?

The 12-bar blues consists of 12 bars of music, and usually alternates between three sets of chords – the root (I), the 4th (IV) and the 5th chord (V). Oftentimes, the blues guitarist will also use the dominant 7th chord version of the I, IV and V chord in order to suggest climax within the blues piece.

Let’s look at an example of a basic 12-bar blues progression in the key of E, common time (4/4). In the key of E, the root note would be E, the 4th note would be A and the 5th note will be B. Thus, we would be playing these blues chords in the following chord sequence:

E (I) E (I) E (I) E (I)
A (IV) A (IV) E (I) E (I)
B (V) A (IV) E (I) B (V)

The 12 bar blues is well known for its gradual rise and fall of accompaniment, making it easier to improvise with the blues guitar scale.

Strumming Patterns

Blues guitar, especially when played on the acoustic guitar, can be played using syncopated strumming patterns. Instead of strictly alternate picking quavers on the guitar, use your strumming hand to lean upon the beat on the downstroke (using palm muting), and quickly release your hand on the up stroke. The end result is a ‘swung’ quaver pattern.

And there you have it.

You are on your way to becoming a strong acoustic blues rhythm guitarist!

For more information, please see Dirk at

Justin Wong is the owner and guitar teacher at Leaders of Rock, a music school for kids and adults in Melbourne Australia.

I focus on teaching ADULT and YOUTH BEGINNERS (age 12 and up) how to play ACOUSTIC GUITAR in many of the popular "roots" styles, such as fiddle tunes, fingerstyle blues, and chord melody, flatpick, fingerpick and folk. I also teach how to play at jams and how to play vocal accompaniment on guitar.

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South Riding Virginia VA Beginner Guitar Lessons
Dedicated to
beginner acoustic guitar