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Blues Guitar Lesson: Soloing Over the 12 Bar Blues Changes


One of the most fundamental chord progressions that has shaped a near-endless number of songs in genres ranging from blues to jazz, rock, bluegrass, and beyond is the 12 bar blues. It’s a song form that is deeply rooted in American, and now world, music culture, and is an essential chord structure that every musician should know and explore.


For guitarists in particular, especially within the blues genre, it is not uncommon to perform an improvised solo over one or more verses of a 12 bar blues. Therefore, it’s critical for blues guitarists to learn how to improvise over a 12 bar blues chord progression in a way that is both tasteful and outlines the song’s form.


In this blues guitar lesson, critically acclaimed guitarist, former Director of Programs at the Musician’s Institute in Hollywood, CA, and ArtistWorks master instructor, Keith Wyatt, teaches how to elegantly improvise over a 12 bar blues using a technique that Keith refers to as “Key Center Soloing.” Using this method, Keith illustrates how you can craft phrases using the minor pentatonic scale that both adhere to the song’s key and also naturally highlight the chord progression of the 12 bar blues.


LEARN MORE: Want to learn how to play blues guitar from a master musician like Keith Wyatt? Try some free online blues guitar lessons now!


“Blues is not about how much you play or how far you go up and down the neck,” Keith explains. “It’s about what you do with your individual phrases, and how much content each note carries. It comes down to the note.”


When soloing over any chord progression, and the 12 bar blues is no exception, it’s essential to balance two critical elements—the tonality (or key center) of the song, and the harmony (or individual chord changes) of the song. Using the approach presented in this lesson, Keith shows how you can craft phrases that will accurately highlight the harmony of a blues while remaining focused specifically on the piece’s key center.


“When using this technique, our concentration is on the key center,” Keith explains. “This is the idea behind the traditional, ‘down home’ blues. We don’t want to get distracted by the chord changes. We want to recognize them and highlight them, but mostly focus on the key center of the specific blues we’re playing.”


To learn more about soloing over a 12 bar blues using the “Key Center Soloing” method, dive into this online blues guitar lesson from Keith Wyatt:


Soloing Over the 12 Bar Blues Changes with Keith Wyatt:




Have you always wanted to learn how to play the blues guitar? Through our comprehensive blues guitar lessons online and Video Exchange Learning platform here at ArtistWorks, you can learn from internationally renowned players, like Keith Wyatt, and get personal feedback on your playing.


Keith’s course starts with the basics and teaches everything from beginner guitar to advanced performance techniques, classic blues tunes, improvisation, music theory, and beyond. So, whether you’re a beginner, intermediate, or advanced player, all levels are welcome and all students will grow and improve their skills as blues guitarists and musicians.


Sample some free music lessons here and see what makes ArtistWorks courses some of the best online music lessons around!



Blues Guitar Lesson: Variations on the 12 Bar Blues with Keith Wyatt

Blues Rock Guitar Lesson: Playing with Attitude with Jared James Nichols

Rock Guitar Lesson: Smooth Soloing with Paul Gilbert




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