In Deep: Getting to Know the Eight-Bar Blues Progression

The following content is related to the February 2013 issue of Guitar World. For the full range of interviews, features, tabs and more, pick up the new issue on newsstands now, or in our online store.

The blues is a style of music that guitar players have explored extensively for more than a century, and will no doubt continue to explore, expand on and creatively reinvent forever.

Though standard blues forms may seem simple, the greatest musicians in virtually every genre have been known to dedicate a great portion of their musical study on a further and deeper understanding of the blues in its many different incarnations. In this edition of In Deep, we’ll focus specifically on the eight-bar, as opposed to the more commonly used 12-bar, blues form.

For this lesson, we’ll focus on an eight-bar progression in the key of A along the lines of the one used in “Key to the Highway.” In bars 1–4, a single bar of the one chord, A, is followed by a single bar of the five chord, E, followed by two bars of the four chord, D.

Bars 5–8 begin the same way, with a bar of A followed by a bar of E, which are then followed by a standard two-bar blues turnaround.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

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Guitar World Associate Editor Andy Aledort is recognized worldwide for his vast contributions to guitar instruction, via his many best-selling instructional DVDs, transcription books and online lessons. Andy is a regular contributor to Guitar World and Truefire, and has toured with Dickey Betts of the Allman Brothers, as well as participating in several Jimi Hendrix Tribute Tours.