Between The Licks
|Various Blues Shuffles|
|Written by Bryan Helmig|
|Monday, 25 February 2008|
Learn some of the various shuffle patterns employed by bluesmen.
By now you should know your 12 bar blues, if you don't, check out my 12 Bar Blues and Variations lesson. For this lesson I'll list several different shuffle rhythm guitar parts. These parts are generally for filling in under vocals or can be used by a second guitar in the group. Many of the styles have moving bass lines that could be doubled by a bass guitar.
As you'll soon see, blues shuffles rely heavily on alternating 6th and dominant 7th chords. These chords add color and are popular in many styles of music, including jazz and country-western. Generally, in blues these color tones are used on top of underlying chords that remain either major or dominant 7th. Dominant 7th's are commonly referred to as 7th chords.
The classic shuffle in E:
Ah, the classic blues shuffle. You probably know it and hopefully love it. It alternates between a simple E5 chord and an E6 chord. Back and forth. A simple variation on this theme can be achieved by adding an E7 chord. Here are the tabs:
Just follow the same pattern for both the 'A' and 'B' chords like so:
The 'Pride and Joy' shuffle in E:
Another classic blues shuffle that was made popular by that Famous texan guitarist. It starts with a simple E7 chord and walks the bass note upwards. I tend to play muted strings instead of open strings. It has that percussive sound which I prefer, but the choice is yours. Here is the tab:
Another variation showcased on this shuffle is to play a 'D' in place of the second 'E'. This implies a E7 chord (E G# B D).
The bass intervals are interesting because they offset either the E major chord tonality or the E blues scale at times. While the 'G' (or minor 3rd) fits right into the E blues scale (E G A Bb B D), it offsets the 'G#' (or major third) of the E major triad (E G# B). The 'B' is expected but the 'C#' is interesting because it implies an E6 chord (E G# B C#).
To play this type of shuffle over the A7 chord, simply follow this tab:
For the B7 and then A7 chord, play as follows:
The Drop Shuffle in A:
This shuffle is a bit more obscure but sounds great. It uses the same 'ole shuffle pattern but involves some thumb action in order to grab a descending bass line. It is in the key of A which can be difficult and will involve a bit more practice, especially if you're not used to using your thumb.
It starts with an A7 chord and the bass note starts 'dropping'.
If you would rather use muted strings up high instead, thats fine. Just worry about the bass line and the shuffle feel.
Again, the falling bass line can imply alternate chordal tonalities. The 'G' implies an A7 chord (A C# E G) and the 'F#' imples an A6 chord (A C# E F#).
This is how you play this shuffle over the D7 chord. You may have to use your pinky for some of the bass line. Follow this tab (this can be tricky):
To finish out the shuffle over the E7 and D7 chords, play:
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