Blues: Essential Turnarounds

by Jacob Light

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  • Hey folks,

    Thank you for checking out my lesson and welcome to Blues: Essential Turnarounds. In today’s lesson we are going to talk about turnarounds, which are basically short musical phrases that are designed to help you go from the end of your chord progression (in this case: a 12 bar blues), back to the beginning again to start a new round. I’ve chosen 5 classic turnarounds for us to work on, each one illustrating a different way to setup the return to the I chord. I’ll break up each and every one of them and walk you through it to help you create and augment your turnaround vocabulary.

    A few quick tips before we begin:

    - While I chose to showcase these turnarounds using fingerpicking, you can definitely recreate these ideas using your pick.

    - I chose the key of A because it’s the first key guitarists usually play the blues in. Even those who started out playing a different key are usually fairly comfortable in A. I’d advise you to transpose these ideas to other keys as well, so you could implement these turnarounds in your blues playing regardless of the song or key.

    - If this is not your first rodeo, and you have some experience with turnarounds, try to harmonize these ideas differently. Adding or subtracting voices can breathe new life into any turnaround.

    Please feel free to ask any questions you may have in the comment section, and I'll be more than happy to help.


    Key: A

    Chords: A7, D7, E7

    Chord Progression:

    | I, IV | I, V | I |

    Tempo: 110bpm

    Time Signature: 12/8

    Tuning: Standard

    Gear Used:

    Guitar: 1987 Gibson Les Paul Standard
    Amp: Fender Tweed Deluxe (1x12) Limited Edition
    Mics: Shure SM57 and Rode NTK
    Preamps: Presonus TubePre x2
    DAW: Avid Pro Tools 11
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