Beginner Blues Groove (Key of A-minor)

Lesson #447 • Jul 29, 2022


Hey there, friends! Today we’ll be looking at a beginner-friendly blues lesson, where I’ll show how adding only 2 special notes can create a dark, bluesy vibe. We’ll be using the chords of Am, Dm, and E7 — all played in a typical 12-bar blues progression. This will set the stage, but the real magic will be the bass notes played between each chord (flat third and flat seventh) — which immediately dial up the bluesy vibe we’re looking for. The sequence I’ll teach is something you can play by yourself, involving bass notes + strums + very basic fills.

In addition to my main tutorial, I’ve also included a separate video showing a slow playthrough with tabs on screen. A jam track is also included (audio file, you can listen on this webpage) if you’d like to practice & play along on your own. You also can download the jam track for offline practice. I hope you enjoy!

Timestamps for my main lesson:

  • 0:00 Lesson Overview
  • 1:38 Chord Shapes
  • 2:46 Adding “Flavor” Notes
  • 7:36 12 Bar Blues Progression
  • 10:29 Putting It All Together

Part 1: Main Lesson

Part 2: Slow Playthrough w/ Tabs

Includes tabs of the entire 12-bar sequence, plus a few additional tips to keep in mind when practicing & playing this exercise.

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Jam Track

12 bar blues sequence, using the chords Am, Dm, and E7. See my PDF (linked above) for additional details.

The Inspiration For This Lesson

The idea for this lesson came from a few places. Most recently, David over on my Patreon page sent over a request for the song Bridle on a Bull by Chris Knight. I’d never heard the song, but immediately recognized the flat-3rd and flat-7th being used in the acoustic bass line. This song also put me in the mindset of the 12-bar blues structure, which it uses throughout. Note, you’ll need to put a capo on the 1st fret in order to play along with Chris Knight’s recording (using the chords A, D, and E7):

There’s also some Colter Wall influence here. Years ago, I did a lesson teaching a riff similar to what’s heard in Kate McCannon — which is also in the Key of A minor — and makes heavy use of the flat-7th (both as a passing bass note, and also as the root of the G major chord). Check out that song, as well as the lesson I made which explores that riff:

Finally, there’s the lesson I made looking at how you can add “grit” to your walk-ups and walk-downs with those flat-3rd and flat-7th notes. This video was made shortly after I connected these dots — which really helped me start to recognize the tones wherever they occurred. If interested, view my full notes for this lesson, which includes a link to my instructional PDF.

Meet the Teacher

Hey there! My name is David Potsiadlo, and I'm the creator of the 400+ weekly lessons here at Song Notes, going back to 2013. Here’s my guitar story »

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