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Beginner Blues Shuffle Rhythm

Learning to play rhythm guitar well is an important fundamental that a lot of players over look. If you are going to be a good soloist, it is imperative to have a good foundation in understanding and performing rhythms and chord progressions in order to do so. I have had students come to me from other instructors that were taught some scales and solo licks, but they felt like they just couldn’t get the hang of learning to solo well. When I asked them to play the rhythms of which they are trying to solo over, their attempts are weak at best, or non-existent.

I make all of my students work hard on rhythm and chord progression fundamentals, as this is the foundation to soloing. You can’t solo well if you don’t understand and hear the background and chord changes of which you are trying to solo over.

Today we will learn a basic blues shuffle rhythm in the key of A. The key of A means, that the notes for this rhythm, are taken from notes in the A major scale. The shuffle rhythm is based on the triplet feel (a triplet is a quarter note broken into three equal parts.)

The first two beats of the triplet are tied together to make the first portion of the beat longer and the second shorter. This gives us a kind of swinging feel to the rhythm. Play this power tab of a basic blues shuffle rhythm to get the idea of how it should sound. Start by placing your first finger on the second fret of the 4th string.

You are going to strum the 5th string open and strum the 4th string at the second fret at the same time. Strum these two strings twice and then with the 3rd finger of your left hand play the 4th fret of the 4th string and the 5th string open and strum them twice as well.

Try to keep your first finger in place while you use your 3rd finger to play the higher note. It may be a little bit of a stretch at first, but it will result in less movement and help to strengthen and stretch your fingers. The left hand finger position is the same for each different string group. Here is an example of the basic blues shuffle.

Go very slowly at first and memorize the progression so that you don’t have to look at the page and can play it by ear.

We will discuss how to solo over this progression in another article. Last listen to lots of blues recordings. You will find this rhythm and similar ones are very prevalent in Blues.

Alan Darby

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