Blues Guitar Rhythm Lesson 2: The Shuffle

Blues Rhythm Guitar Basics Part 2: The Shuffle

Now that we understand and can construct the basic underlying harmonic structure of a 12-bar blues, we can begin to apply some of the more common rhythm styles.  One of the most common blues rhythm conventions is the shuffle, performed by alternating harmonically between a perfect fifth and major sixth with either a straight or swing feel.   Let’s apply this to the first four measures of a blues in A, substituting the I7 for a shuffle:

This same pattern can be applied to both the IV7 and V7 chord by simply moving the perfect fifth shape to root of either chord.  We can do this on the IV7 (D7) of  a blues in A by moving the shuffle figure to the fifth fret of the A string.  Therefore the middle four bars of twelve bar blues will look like this:

Likewise, we can apply the shuffle to the V7 chord (E7), by placing the root of  the perfect fifth at seventh fret of the A string.  So the final four measures of a blues in A would look like this:

If we put all of this together, we end up with a twelve-bar blues that looks like this: 

Just like we did with the previous example, it is imperative that we apply this in at least five other keys.