How To Jazz Up Your 12 Bar Blues Chords

Learn how to jazz up your blues guitar chords with this beginner Jazz Blues Guitar Lesson. You will learn how to add color to your chords and a few tricks for substituting in new chords.

Basic 12 Bar Blues Chord Progression

Check it out, here is the basic 12 Bar Blues:

A7 | D7 | A7 | A7
D7 | D7 | A7 | A7
E7 | E7 | A7 | A7

Play each chord for 4 beats.

Now, let the fun begin!

Video: Jazzing up Your Blues

In this video I will walk you through the possibilities for spicing up your plain 12 bar blues.


New Jazz Blues Chords To Add

  • A7 = A9, A13, A7#11
    D7 = D9, D13, D9#11
    E7 = E9, E13

So you can swap out some plain old dominant 7 chords for more colourful dominant 7 chords that have a 9 or 13.

To learn more about this, I highly recommend this lesson where I cover many possibilities for dom7 chords.

Blues Chord Substitutes

In the video I add in some extra chords, below is the final example with all additions.

A13   |   D9   D#dim7   | A13       | Em9   Eb9

D9    |  D#dim7             | A13      | Bm7b5 F#7b9

Bm7 |  E7                       | A7         | E7                      ||

Cool, right? If you want to try out some Charlie Parker style blues changes that would be:

Amaj7 | G#m7b5    C#7b9  | F#m7    B13      | Em7     A13

D7        |  Dm7      G13            | Dbm7    Gb13   | Cm7    F7b9

Bm7     |  E7                            | A7      F#7b9     | Bm7 E7          ||

That’s it, leave a comment below with any cool changes you put in!



  1. Randy Wulf says

    I’ve just started playing again after40 yrs of “not” I only know enough to be considered a “beyond-beginner?” I really want to become fluid in jazz and blues. I just stumbled across you while surfing for beginner crap, but I LOVE your videos and chord charts. Please keep it coming – it’s awesome and fun. Thnx

  2. Tyler Corbitt says

    Who are some great blues players and blues guitar players to be listening to? I would love to hear some great people to emulate and also some that are above my skill level that inspire.

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