Guitar - Learning The Twelve Bar Blues

The Easiest Way To Master The Fretboard!Uncle Tim's Building Blocks

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By Tim Gillespie

If you have not played this type of progression before, there are two things that strike me as the basics.

1. You must be able to play the simple chords in this progression.

2. You must be able to transition in and out of the fifths.

The first thing you must do here is get to know the chords. So start by playing the progression slowly. Work back and forth through the chords and concentrate on linking them. If there are strings that are buzzing or some glitches that are stopping you from hitting the chord correctly, then identify the areas and make up some exercises that reinforce the right way to move to the chord. Be smart about this and you will remove those problem areas.

Playing the fifths is a little harder than just strumming a chord as you strum every string. Playing the fifths is usually limited to just two strings. And the fretboard hand has a constant motion to it to produce the signature effect of this sound.

E Fifth

I have removed everything except the exact area this fifth is played in. The B note is shown white in the second example because you are still holding the note down, even though you are not playing it. You do this because in a moment you will lift your finger off the C# note and let the B note sound. Use your index finger to hold down the B note and your third finger to play the C# note. This sound file is four bars long.

Remember you are playing a fifth (the distance between E and B) and a sixth, (the distance between E and C#). Consult the scale of E major (or A major) if you are having a problem with this.

O, yea. Don't hit any other strings as you are doing this. Work with only these two notes. The reason I chose this exact chord as an example is this is the easiest fifth to play on the entire fretboard. The A fifth is slightly harder.

A Fifth

Same thing with this fifth only now you cannot hit the low E string. You have to skip over it without sounding it and play the A note and the E / F# notes. Use your index finger to hold down the E note and your third finger to play the F# note. You can use others, but these work nicely.

This is a more exacting move if you are using a pick because the pick cannot hit the low E string. Of course it will the first several times you play this, but this exercise should serve to help you develop the exact location of the sweep path.

Once you develop the feel of this, the rest is just timing and working on playing smoothly. This sound file is two bars long.


E Major Scale

This is one of my favorite scales. I would suggest you play this one often particularly if you are new to scales. It is a great builder of strength and lots of fun. This is the scale I would use to construct leads from. Every time I build one, I climb out of the scale and use the registers above it.

Remember to play all the notes according to the finger chart. This scale is much easier to play if you use the right fingers.




E scale-1 time-slow


E scale-3 times-slow


E scale-1 time-moderate