Tighten Up Your Blues is a weekly video guitar lesson series by longtime TrueFire educator Jeff McErlain. In this series, Jeff will focus on nuance and all the finer points of touch, feel, and inflection in blues guitar playing. Be sure to subscribe!

Video Guitar Lesson

In my last installment of Tighten Up Your Blues I went over some basic variations for a 12 bar blues in A. Please check that out first if you haven’t done so already, it will help to set you up for this lesson. In this video guitar lesson, I am going to show you how to add fills to a basic blues.

Adding in fills to a blues is essential and sounds great, but it can be a stumbling block for many people for a number of reasons. First is where do I put a fill so it sounds good? A classic place to add a fill is on the second half of each 4 bar phrase in a 12 bar blues. So basically we are putting in our fill after the vocal which is usually over the first half of each 4 bar phrase. This is a classic blues form, check out Crossroads, and Red House (and countless other blues tunes) to hear the form in action. On the last two bars of this blues I am using a classic turnaround but we could use a fill as well if we wanted.

What this exercise also does is to help us pay attention to where we are in the blues form, because the fills are specifically placed. We have to be in and out at the right time or else it will sound wrong. So by doing this we build up or listening skills, time, phrasing, and the ability to carry a blues with fills by ourselves. Did I also mention it was fun?

Thanks and I hope you guys enjoy it!