12 Bar Blues Guitar



12 Bar Blues Guitar consists of three essential dimensions:  12 bars, blues and guitar.

Online lessons--that separate these out--help the Blues Guitar Beginner understand the base steps easier.

(This is also a godsend for the Beginner Blues Bass player too)

Here's a step-by-step, do this, don't-have-to-read-music, introduction for you.

What does 12 bars mean?


A bar is simply a music unit of time. So 12 bars means 12 units of time.

Here's how to experience 12 bars.
 
Do this. 

Experience 1


Tap your toe evenly and steadily.  Observe your toe tapping steadily and evenly.

Notice: For your toe to tap it has to raise first.  Your toe can't go down without going up.

Right? (Big Insight!)

Now do this.

Experience 2


Say bar each time your toe taps the floor. Go on. Say and do 12 bars.

bar, bar, bar, bar,
bar, bar, bar, bar,
bar, bar, bar, bar.


12 bars 1 Beat Time


Now do this: Say bar on the down of the toe and a number on the up of the toe.

Do it like this.

Experience 3


Down Up Down Up Down Up Down Up
Bar 1 Bar 2 Bar 3 Bar 4

Down Up Down Up Down Up Down Up
Bar 5 Bar 6 Bar 7 Bar 8

Down Up Down Up Down Up Down Up
Bar 9 Bar 10 Bar 11 Bar 12

Congratulations!

You have just experienced 12 bars of time.  


12 bars 2 Beat Time


Now do this: Tap your toe and heel evenly. Steady and Even.

(If you have a metronome, put in on now to MM60 and tap toe-heel to this tempo)

Say bar on the down of the toe and a number on the heel.

Do it like this:

Experience 4


Toe Heel Toe Heel Toe Heel Toe Heel
Bar 1 Bar 2 Bar 3 Bar 4

Toe Heel Toe Heel Toe Heel Toe Heel
Bar 5 Bar 6 Bar 7 Bar 8

Toe Heel Toe Heel Toe Heel Toe Heel
Bar 9 Bar 10 Bar 11 Bar 12

Congratulations!

You have just experienced 12 bars of time of 2 BeatTime.  

This is the main form of 12 bar time to master.

(You did not hear it first online!)


12 bars 4 Beat Time


Do the same setup as for the previous 2 Beat step

Now watch what your foot is doing.

Firstly, the toe goes down.  Next the heel raises up. Next the heel goes down. 
 
Then, the toe goes down. And the sequence starts again.

<side note>

We can summarise these four actions as this sequence.:

Toe-down,heel-up,heel-down,toe-up.

Which were can further reduce to:

T, H, H, T

To make the sequence easier to verbalise.

</side note>

With your metronome set at MM40, tap your toe and heel in time.

Like in the previous exercise.

Do this:

Experience 5


Toe Heel Toe Heel Toe Heel Toe Heel
Bar 1 Bar 2 Bar 3 Bar 4

Toe Heel Toe Heel Toe Heel Toe Heel
Bar 5 Bar 6 Bar 7 Bar 8

Toe Heel Toe Heel Toe Heel Toe Heel
Bar 9 Bar 10 Bar 11 Bar 12

This time, say and do this in time with your toe and heel:

Experience 6


Toe Heel Toe Heel Toe Heel
T     H H     T T     H H     T T     H H     T

Toe Heel Toe Heel Toe Heel
T     H H     T T     H H     T T     H H     T

Toe Heel Toe Heel Toe Heel
T     H H     T T     H H     T T     H H     T

Toe Heel Toe Heel Toe Heel
T     H H     T T     H H     T T     H H     T


This time, say the bar numbers as well in time with your toe and heel:

Experience 7


Toe Heel Toe Heel Toe Heel
1     H H     T 2     H H     T 3     H H     T

Toe Heel Toe Heel Toe Heel
4     H H     T 5     H H     T 6     H H     T

Toe Heel Toe Heel Toe Heel
7     H H     T 8     H H     T 9     H H     T

Toe Heel Toe Heel Toe Heel
10     H H     T 11     H H     T 12     H H     T


This time, say the beat numbers in time with your toe and heel:

Experience 8


Toe Heel Toe Heel Toe Heel
1     2 3     4 1     2 3     4 1 2 3     4

Toe Heel Toe Heel Toe Heel
1     2 3     4 1     2 3     4 1 2 3     4

Toe Heel Toe Heel Toe Heel
1     2 3     4 1     2 3     4 1 2 3     4

Toe Heel Toe Heel Toe Heel
1     2 3     4 1     2 3     4 1 2 3     4


This time, say the bar numbers and beat numbers in time with your toe and heel:

Experience 9


Toe Heel Toe Heel Toe Heel
1     2 3     4 2     2 3     4 3 2 3     4

Toe Heel Toe Heel Toe Heel
4     2 3     4 5     2 3     4 6 2 3     4

Toe Heel Toe Heel Toe Heel
7     2 3     4 1     2 8     4 9 2 3     4

Toe Heel Toe Heel Toe Heel
10     2 3     4 11     2 10     4 12 2 3     4




What have your nine experiences given you?

 
The benefit of learning and feeling 12 bars with just your foot (toe-down, heel-up-heel-down-toe-up) without the distractions of a guitar in your hands.

When your foot (and leg) is rhythmically solid then you can sound good.  Without this foundation you will never get past the endless struggle stage.

Without this foundation a bass player would never get past start .

When both your feet are rhythmically solid, you have the base 12 bar blues guitar skill to drive your audience wild.

Who love the way you make 12 bar blues guitar feel as solid as a pyramid yet as fluid as the Mississippi.
 
In the meantime, feel 12 bars with Freddy King here. 
 
 
 
 
 
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