5 Blues Guitar Turnarounds You MUST Know

5 Blues Guitar Turnarounds You MUST Know

You can never know too many turnarounds. If you listen to any of your favorite blues players, you’ll see how important it is to add distinctive flavor to any tune using flashy, interesting turnarounds. Having a large repertoire of blues turnarounds at your disposal is what it takes to bring your playing to the next level.

Robbie Calvo will help you along the way here by teaching five turnarounds taken from his TrueFire course, 25 Blues Turnarounds. He’ll first perform the song over a fast and slow jam track, then break it down in depth so you can learn the turnaround inside and out. You’ll also get the tab, notation, and jam tracks for each turnaround that Robbie plays. Let’s get started!

1. Blues Scale: Open Position

Download the tab, notation, and jam track for this blues turnaround.

Our first blues turnaround is an open position E blues scale idea that you’ve probably heard many times. It’s a classic turnaround that’s perfect for when you’re singing and playing the chords to a blues in open position.

You can also play this idea at the 12th fret, fretting the notes at the 12th fret that are open strings in this idea. Check it out!

2. Blues Scale: 5th Fret

Download the tab, notation, and jam track for this blues turnaround.

This one is created from the E blues scale at the 5th fret position. I like this turnaround a lot, as I can utilize the chromatic aspect of the lick on the top E string. Notice that I’m implying the G# of an E7 chord by applying a blues bend to the G note in the blues scale – try and make this smooth and sassy.

3. E9 Arpeggio: 12th Fret

Download the tab, notation, and jam track for this blues turnaround.

Here’s a cool E9 arpeggio phrase at the 12th fret position. The opening line starts with a nice descending pedal tone chromatic idea. E is the pedal tone and the chromatic line descends through G#, G, and F# on the 3rd strings. Try to keep these lines smooth and triplet feel in nature. We’re playing over a blues shuffle, so the triplet is our pulse throughout.

4. Double-Stop Turnaround

Download the tab, notation, and jam track for this blues turnaround.

Here’s one that’s a nice mixture of double stops at the 12th fret region of the fretboard. I created this phrase by starting out working within the blues scale shape and finding ideas I liked in and around those tones. The ending phrase utilizes ascending major 6th double stops moving chromatically from A7 up to B7 (two of the notes from each of those chords).

5. E Mixolydian Turnaround

Download the tab, notation, and jam track for this blues turnaround.

This one utilizes the Mixolydian mode with added chromatic tones. As an FYI, I could also call the E9 arpeggio turnarounds we learnt as Mixolydian in nature, too. This line is a really nice one with lots of low end energy. The chromatic tones used are the C note descending and the A# ascending. Other than that, the notes are all coming directly from the A major scale (E Mixolydian). Of course, the chords are purely blues harmony and come from there respective keys.


If you’re looking for more turnarounds to add to your toolbox, check out the full course on TrueFire. In 25 Blues Turnarounds, Robbie Calvo will expand on the techniques and concepts we’ve just begun to look at. Check it out now!