12 Bar Chord Sequence Variations

When is a 12 Bar Blues not a 12 Bar Blues?? When someone changed some of the chords... huh, it's still a 12 Bar Blues... well nevermind.

So even though there is a kinda set "12 Bar" chord sequence, there are many variations of it that are commonly used. Most times songs will stick to a certain sequence that works best with the vibe or melody, so it's worth knowing the most common variations.

Backing Track

Here is the Blues in D Backing track for you to practice with! You'll probably want to use the chart below to make sure you are getting the correct variations - we're using a "Quick Change", a "I-IV Climb" and a Turnaround ending (more on these in a later lesson!).

Blues Rhythm Track 3 by justinguitar



There are many variations and of course we've only used a few here for the backing track or it would have just sounded silly! So just to run through the ones looked at in the video:

• Quick Change (change to the IV chord for Bar 2)
• Long V (staying on V for bars 9 and 10)
• Long I (staying on the I for bars 11 and 12)
• I to IV climb up (starts with tone, I, II, bIII, III)
• Turnaround IV to V climb (as used in the backing track)
• Turnaround b3, 2 b2 chromatic (we re-visit this one on a later lesson about Turnarounds)

And there are some others not covered in the lesson too, which include:

• V to IV 1st inversion (commonly used in bar 10 is V chord in 1st inversion, which makes the bass go up a tone from the IV chord. Very cool, I love the sound of this).
• II to V in bars 9/10 (Rather than going V to IV, it can go II to V)
• The VI7 in bar 8 (often used with the above to precede the II-V, kinda traditional jazz sound).

Blues Rhythm 1