How To Play Blues Chords

By: Jerry A. Greene

Question: What are the standard chords that go with a blues a 12 bar blues?


You can figure out the 12 bar blues very easily. If you know the primary chords in any key then, you already know the chords! All you have to do is make all of them dominant 7th chords.

We'll use C Blues as an example:

In C Major, the primary chords are C(I) F(IV) and G(V)

In C Blues, the chords used are C7(I7) F7(IV7) and G7(V7)

The 12 bar blues progression is this:

C7 | F7 | C7 | C7|
F7 | F7 | C7 | C7|
G7 | F7| C7 | G7|

There are blues variations. For example, some songs leave the I7 chord going throughout the first 4 measures. You'll also find some blues songs that have some completely different chords...but this is the "standard" 12 bar blues.

You can use these chords in combination with the blues scale to create your own blues songs!