Blues Guitar Chord Progressions • The Three Chord Progression • Part 5 • Chords, Tab, Video Lessons

Learning Blues Guitar

I have been teaching guitar professionally since 1992, when Don’t Fret Guitar Instruction was established. Over the years, I have taught countless students (beginners to advanced) how to play or improve their chops. Past students include four members of PROTEST THE HERO.

With this book, my goal is to relate the scales with chords and rhythms as opposed to just learning solos or licks and having no idea how to apply them. Good rhythm playing and knowledge is crucial to good soloing and vice versa. This comes through understanding the relationship between chords and scales. This book provides that important foundation.

The book is unique in the fact that each chapter is based around a different key signature and an open (contains unfretted notes), pattern of the pentatonic scale. There are five chapters covering the key signatures of E, A, D, G and C, and the five open ‘box patterns’ (scale patterns) of the pentatonic scale. Eventually all the box patterns are covered, from the open strings to the fifteenth fret.

There is no endless scale practice or useless licks to learn. Instead, each chapter begins with a chord progression, moves into various rhythm patterns derived from the chord progression, and then culminates with solos based on the scale and key covered. These solos tie in with the chord progression and rhythm patterns to form a complete lesson for each chapter.

The book is progressive. Upon completion, the student will have a solid foundation in blues guitar, and will understand the rhythm, lead connection.

The book is best studied from beginning to end, without slighting any material. All theory is explained in the simplest terms. There are fretboard diagrams for the scales, chord grids, and photos of hand positions as well as videos posted on YouTube to aid in the learning process.

It is best, but not necessary, to have a knowledge of barre and open chord shapes before beginning this course. All the chords have fretboard grids associated with them.

Good luck and have fun. Music is a celebration. Enjoy!

Lorne K. Hemmerling

Normal Harmonization
Alternative Harmonization
E5, E6, E7
E Major, A/C sharp, E9
A5, A6, A7
A Major, D/F sharp, A9
B5, B6, B7
B Major, E/G sharp, B9

Progression One

Some of these three note chords can be found in Blues Guitar Lessons • Before You Accuse Me. These chords are an alternative harmonization of the basic pinky patterns. For example, in measure one, the normal chords would be E5, E6 and E7. These have been re-harmonized to form E Major (chord spelling: B, E, G sharp), A/C sharp (or more simply A Major, since C sharp is the third of the A Major triad, chord spelling: C sharp, E, A) and E9 (chord spelling: D, F sharp, B). These new harmonies present a very cool substitution for the basic patterns, and have been used in many songs. In the video, I am using the 'chicken picking' technique. Also, the E5, E6 and E7 could be played as a second guitar part, adding more foundation to the overall sound. All of these progressions are played with the shuffle feel, notated here as a broken triplet (see Blues Basics • Blues Rhythm Patterns Part 1).

Progression One

Progression Two

This pattern adds a repeating riff combined with the chords. Based in the key of G Major, it is close to ZZ Top's 'Jesus Just Left Chicago'. The riff moves through three different Pentatonic scales: G Major-E minor, C Major-A minor, and D Major-B minor. The G Major Pentatonic riff is based in Box Pattern #3, while the C Major and D Major riffs are from Box Pattern #1. These scales correspond to the 12 bar, 3 chord structure (G, C And D). Combining riffs and chords is very common in blues. Even though the second chord of each measure can be simplified to the Major chord (as explained in Progression one), voicing the third on the bottom of the chord is essential to the sound of the movement. The last two measures are a very common turnaround in the key of G. This pattern sounds good at a slow to moderate tempo.

ZZ Top: Live from Texas
ZZ Top: Live from Texas

Now for the first time one of ZZ Top's legendary live performances has been filmed for simultaneous release on DVD & Blu-ray. The track listing spans their career from early tracks such as "Waitin' For The Bus", "Just Got Paid" and the classic "La Grange", through their eighties blockbusters including "Gimme All Your Lovin'" and "Legs" (complete with furry guitars!) and up to more recent hits like "Pincushion". Filmed in their home state of Texas in front of a wildly enthusiastic audience, this DVD & Blu-ray captures ZZ Top at their very best.


Progression Two

Progression Three

This pattern sounds great at a moderate to fast shuffle tempo. The order of the chords has been reversed. In measure one, the movement is from A9, into D/F sharp and resolving to A Major. This is the same movement for all the chord shapes. The overall tonality is once again the normal one, four, five in the key of A: A7, D7, E7. Try working these shapes out in the first five frets. The E9, A/C sharp, E Major, will have to be transposed down an octave. The D9, G/B, D Major, will be different chord shapes from all the others presented in these progressions.

Chord spelling for D9 low to high: C (third string, fifth fret), E (second string, fifth fret), and A (first string, fifth fret).

Spelling for the G/B low to high: B (third string, fourth fret), D (second string, third fret) and G (first string, third fret)

The D Major is simply a normal open D shape based on the second fret: A (third string, second fret), D (second string, third fret), F sharp (first string, second fret). Once you have these patterns memorized, try adding ornaments. On the video, I am sliding into the 9th chords. This will add more meat to the sound!

Progression Three

Progression Three

Jesus Just Left Chicago • ZZ Top

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