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.

What IS the twelve bar blues?

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 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.  

What is the IV chord?

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

Please scroll down the page for the download links.

A simple melody

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!)

12 bar blues duets:

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

Please scroll down the page for the download links.

Plucking the bass notes

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

Please scroll down for the link to the sheet music shown above

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.  

Tablature is the easiest way to start

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

Please scroll down the page for the download links.

Other keys & arrangements of chords

Other keys (tonalities, with different chords) 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









Interested in songs from the Bible for your students or church?  Check out my other website, SingTheBibleStory.com!

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About the Author

Dana Thynes

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

Like some of you, I've been playing the piano since early childhood, and have 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.