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...
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.)
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:
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.
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!
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
The links for the blues PDF downloads:
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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!!
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!