12 Bar Blues Structure

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The 12 Bar BLUES

You can play the blues with 3 chords – all you need to know is how long to play each for (the ‘structure’ of the 12 bar blues)

12 Bar in Key of E

CHORDS in the key of E

You need three chords to play a 12-bar blues in E – E7, A7 and B7.

In the key of E, we have E as the I chord, A as the IV chord and B as the V chord.

E7, A7 and B7 are the 3 chords we need.

guitar chord diagram E7 A7 B7

12 Bar Structure in the key of E

The 12 Bar Blues in the key of E means that we play:

  • 4 bars of an E7 chord
  • 2 bars of an A7 chord
  • 2 bars of an E7 chord
  • the last four bars have one chord each per bar B7, A7, E7 and B7 again.
12 Bar Blues Chord Sequence| learn guitar fingerstyle

12 Bar Blues AS 3 SECTIONS

CHORDS in the key of E

The best way to visualize this is to break the 12 bars into:

  • the first 4 bars
  • the middle 4 bars
  • and the last 4 bars


The first 4 bars are easy! – you just play an E major or an E7 chord.

12 Bar Blues - first 4 bars | learn guitar fingerstyle


Then the middle 4 bars are: A7 for two bars and then E7 for two bars.

Second 4 Bars


Then the last 4 bars has 4 chords – B7, A7, E7 and B7 again.

Last 3 Bars


Memorize the 12-Bar blues by learning the first 4, middle 4 and last 4 bars.

Play with the audio file until it becomes second nature to play along.


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