12 Bar Blues Guitar Tabs
for Beginner Guitar

12 Bar Blues guitar tab sheet music showing bass lines and a simple melody, free!  Your beginner guitar players will have fun with these.

Do you know what the twelve bar blues is?  

Twelve measures (or "bars") using the I, IV, and V chords of whichever key you happen to be playing in.  That's all.  The most common pattern, probably, is the one I have below:

I   I   I  I

IV IV  I  I 

V  IV  I  I

Each bar or measure is 4 beats. That can be a whole note, quarter notes like I have on the tablature below, or any combination that adds up to 4 beats.

It's important to keep in mind that this chord progression is a USUAL progression for the twelve bar blues - but not the only one!  Keep reading down the page, and I'll explain a bit more...

12 bar blues guitar tab sheet for bass line

Please scroll down the page for the links to the free printable PDFs!

What you're looking at, above, is a line that a bass guitar might play. (Very basic; each note is the root of the chord only, nothing fancy.)

In the key of E, which is the key I've chosen to base these 12 bar blues guitar tab sheets on, the main chord (called "the I chord") is E.  

Count up to the 4th step of the E scale, and there is "the IV chord", A -- music theory uses Roman numerals to name the chords.  

Walk up one more step to the B right above A, and you have the foundation of the B chord, the V chord.

I say "foundation" because the notes given on the guitar tablature above show just the root notes of the chord; the low E, A, and B. (See farther down the page for different chord constructions.)

12 bar blues guitar tab sheet for melody line


Oh boy, is this melody ever basic!  

It's really more like a duplication of the bass part's notes, up high, but with an important difference - you are going to use these simple notes to practice slides, hammer-ons, pull-offs, and even bends or vibrato (if your student's guitar strings are soft enough).  

And your students will be intrigued.  This is a duet beginners can do!

(What about the sound quality? Don't worry about that right now!)

The next three beginner guitar tab sheets are DUETS, including both melodies and bass lines - both students read off the same sheet:

12 bar blues duet for guitar, bass & melody lines


So how do we pluck the bass notes?  Sometimes with the thumb, sometimes with a pick.  

We're talking BEGINNERS here, so we do what is comfortable at first.  I like to pluck the power chords and boogie chords with my thumb and index.

Power chords with 12 bar blues guitar tabs


As I said above, the melody is a vehicle for practice of slides, hammer-ons, pull-offs, bends, and maybe even vibratos.  

"You Can Teach Yourself Rock Guitar", a Mel Bay book, has a lot of great ideas like these 12-bar-blues, but they use standard notation, not tab.  

I like the tablature better for my barely-reading-notes-yet guitar students, because as easy as these patterns are to play, they are rather exotic and difficult to read when presented as notes on the staff!

Boogie chords with 12 bar blues guitar tabs


Other keys can easily be used for the 12 bar blues, and other arrangements of the I, IV, and V chords.  

The key of A would use chords A, D, and E (or E7) for the I, IV, and V chords; in the key of D the three chords would be D, G, and A.

And a different arrangement of the chords might be:

I   I  IV  IV

I   I   I   I

V  IV  I   I 

Have fun!





The links for the blues PDF downloads:


Download 12 Bar Blues guitar tabs for bass line only in key of E


Download guitar tabs for melody line in key of E


Download blues duet sheet with both melody and bass


Download blues duet with melody and power chords in bass


Download blues duet with melody and boogie chords in bass








Recent Articles

  1. Free Printable Sheet Music for Piano Students: Irish Wedding

    Free printable sheet music "Irish Wedding". A SIMPLE, intuitive version for your 1st-year kids is the newest of the arrangements of this fun, pretty piece!

    Read More

  2. Come By the Hills Lyrics & Sheet Music

    Come By the Hills is a pretty Gaelic song your singers will learn to sing EASILY and will love. NOW with piano, guitar tab, and lead sheet arrangements.

    Read More

  3. Jane Austen Emma Music for Piano

    Jane Austen "Emma" music - a beautiful piano arrangement based on some of the themes from one of the Jane Austen movies. Hear a video of the piano music.

    Read More

  4. Time-saving list!

    Thank you so much for this list! You saved me a great deal of time for me, not to have to reinvent the wheel! I’m going to teach a beginning singing

    Read More

  5. Aragorn and Arwen's Theme at Rivendell Sheet Music

    Aragorn and Arwen, in The Fellowship of the Ring, commit themselves to each other while the beautiful music "Aniron" - "I Desire" - is sung.

    Read More

  6. Titanic Music for Intermediate Piano

    This is the most famous "Titanic music" from Titanic the movie, arranged for intermediate piano. Not too easy, but very lovely.

    Read More

Just the Black Keys, a piano song book for young beginners.

Just the Black Keys

This book is available as a digital download  from this site, and also from Amazon as a paperback!

This is the perfect easy start for little pianists.

And when they start reading white-key notes on the staff, this is a fun easy resource to say each week, "Choose a new black-key song at home this week and figure it out to show me next lesson!"  They will be spending more time at the piano.

The Adventures of Tonsta, Volume 1, is a book about a young boy travelling over mountains and fjords from village to village, encountering trolls and helping folk in distress.

The Adventures of Tonsta

A perfect read aloud storybook
for little boys or girls. 

The Adventures of Tonsta highlight the travels of a very young boy with a good heart, who goes about helping folk in trouble.  

With a red cap on his head and a sack of tools slung over his shoulder, Tonsta seems to meet people in distress wherever he goes.

Lots of trolls in this book - including one who gives him a Christmas gift!

Available at Amazon

12-Bar Blues The Complete Guide for Guitar music book

Matt:
THIS SITE IS AMAZING!!
I've been teaching guitar for about 5 years now, and I've only just found your website! (I could really have used it 5 years ago) :-)  

I teach at primary schools every week day for about 4 hours, so the beginner tabs you have are ideal. Thank you so much for your hard work getting these on the web, you have made many children very happy!!

Bluegrass Complete music book for guitar

Christine:
Thank you so much for this site! I have just started teaching some really keen Y6 boys who want to play Scarborough Fair, and your version is perfect. I will now go and look at what other goodies you have!

Alfred's Complete Beginner Guitar Course for Kids

Sign up for "Take Note!" to see what's new every month.


About the Author

Dana Thynes

Hi, I'm Dana!  (Say that like "Anna".)  I'm the owner of Music-for-Music-Teachers.com.

Like some of you, I've been playing the piano since early childhood, and added a few other instruments along the way, plus an interest in arranging and composing music.

You can find out more about me and the reason for this website at my About Me page.