Watch the 12-Bar Blues online guitar lesson by Annie Raines from Blues Harmonica Blueprint

In this exercise, we’re going to play just the root (the "Do" of Do-Re-Mi) notes of each chord. In a standard blues, those chords are I, IV and V (1, 4 and 5 ). The last 2 bars stick to the I chord and only jump to the V for the last half-measure of the verse, so I’ll do a very brief turnaround riff there. First I’ll play whole notes, then shuffle "skipping" rhythm, then triplets, then syncopations anticipating the beat, and finally a Big Band-style combination of quarter notes and syncopations, always sticking with the root note of each chord through the changes.