Hey guys, I've been noodling a lot with the blues progression : E7-A7-E7-B7-A7-E7. Sorry if I wrote that incorrectly. Anyway I've been working on my improvisation skills. I'll start with the above progression, then I'll switch to an "intermediate" part of the song where I only play E7 and A7, then I'll play the first part again as I "wind down" the tune. Problem is the B7 sounds goofy as hell after the transitive E7-A7 that I play for a few bars. What would be a good "higher" chord, and lower chord that would work with A7 and E7? I've found that if I transition directly from B7 to E7 that it doesn't sound nearly as stupid as going from B7-A7-E7, but I have to be careful to avoid a couple notes which sound "odd".

Hope that makes sense. What other chords should I be looking at? I tried several just for shits and giggles: G, C, F, D....and they all kinda suck, too "high" to fit the song proper, if you get my drift. D7....well, it ALMOST works.

Thanks in advance! Also please remember I'm a cowboy style player....no barre chords please
Last edited by TobusRex at Aug 25, 2016,
Quote by Tony Done
I just tried it. A7-Bb7-B7 worked for me, and is easy as barres - 575655 to 686766 to 797877

So you went from Bb7 to B7. Thanks Tony, I'll look up Bb7.

Barres are so frustrating to me. They annoy me so much that I only rarely practice them, which makes a vicious circle. I can do the index finger barre across the top fine, and I'm pretty good at sliding it up and down the fretboard. My index finger...yeah, I can get that in the barre chord too. But that goddamn middle finger is holding up the show.

Ironic, huh, the middle finger giving me the finger?
I'm not very good at barres either because I'm mostly a cowboy chord fingerpicker and slide player. That basic"F" shape is worth learning though, even for someone like me, as it can be used for both minor and 7th chords simply by lifting a finger.

The notation I showed is frets, going from bass to treble, so the first one is A7, then you shift up one fret to Bb7, then you shift up another fret to B7.
I thought it was pretty funny when you showed how easy it would be to do the barre version, lol, then I looked up Bb and said to myself "self...this chord fuckin' sucks!". LOL.

Guess I'll keep working on the barres. I'm not very talented though, so will take awhile. Thanks for the assist though, much appreciated.

Here ya go, as a reward. The audio quality isn't the best, but the guitar picking is lovely. When those two guys, Peter and Paul are looking at each other during the performance I bet they were both thinking "Damn that bass is loud!". Hehehe. I like it though.

Oh yeah...that standup bass player in the background. I think that is a japanese studio musician. I like that bass work, btw. Solid. But so loud, lol.

Last edited by TobusRex at Aug 25, 2016,
I saw them live in the mid 60s during the big folk/blues revival. I'm sure they would have done that one, but I can't remember, it was a long time ago. They are one of those groups that had a major influence on my musical outlook. I do it as a lap steel piece.

Like I said, the only barre I can do it that F shape, and I'm not that good at it. Barres are easier with a slide.
Well, surely you've both heard, "Get Off My Cloud", by The Rolling Stones.

Now, it's in the key of E, with sort of a blues style progression. It's played very similarly to E blues in that you just go straight up the neck thus: E open, A barre @ 5th, B barre @ 7th. But they're all major chords, no 7ths added: https://tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/t/the_rolling_stones/get_off_my_cloud_ver2_crd.htm

Pay particular attention to the lines "don't hang around 'cause two's a crowd", Which modulates from D (bVII) chord) to B (V chord).

Theory lesson, heads up!! In the key of E, blues or otherwise, "Bb" is probably better called be called "A#", if only to keep all sharps, (there 4 are in E), and you're going past A toward B. (Although they do call that note, A#/Bb, a "diminished 5th" in the E blues scale, so what the hell, it could just as well be Bb ).

Anyhow, it's difficult to improvise that type of change, keeping the 7ths of the chords in the improv scale. the "V7" is intended to cause a mild dissonance in order to "resolve" to the major "I"(E). So, delete the 7ths, and just improvise using only the chord tones.

I really think you need to either record or loop the progression, (yes, using the barre chords), and then play over it to hone your skills. I'm too lazy to do such a thing, but you seem more motivated.

Besides, all those 7ths annoy the crap out of me. I only like 12 bar blues after it's been modified to not sound like 12 bar. For example, The Beatles, "Day Tripper".

As for rewards, here's Rosanne Cash doing Townes Van Zandt's "Pancho & Lefty":

And her with another true classic "500 Miles"

Last edited by Captaincranky at Aug 26, 2016,
Interesting question. A# for consistency, or dim5th. I think A# would have been better for consistency, but I'm no theorist. I was really just talking about a walk-up from one chord to the next, common enough in blues turnarounds.

Not wild about "Pancho and Lefty", but I do like "500 miles". Coincidentally, I was playing it a few days ago, badly, on lap steel. - Lap steel is good because I can play it while lounging about in the big armchair watching TV.


I did a bit of checking. "500 miles"lead me to Hedy West, which lead me to "Little Sadie" (masterly clawhammer/frailing), which lead me to this extra-ordinary version:

Last edited by Tony Done at Aug 26, 2016,
Is that an oud or a lute? Or does it make a difference after you dispense with frets?

Anyway, here's Mr. Lindley with Jackson Browne doing "Call it a loan". A friend of mine insisted Browne wasn't clever enough to come up with the guitar parts and Lindley should have gotten all the writing credit. You decide:

This was originally recorded in Gb. What key is it in now that they're both getting older?
Last edited by Captaincranky at Aug 26, 2016,
I think the fretless makes it an oud.

There's some wonderful stuff on Youtube if you care to hunt it down - your example is typical of what you can find. From that generation I tended to follow the Brit folkies like John Renbourn and Steeleye Spann. Just before that I was listening to Ry Cooder doing "Jesus on the mainline" on his mandoguitar with David Lindley playing that tenor (?) mando. Killer.
You can have lots of fun with a 12 bar blues in key of E by messing around with a D7 shape (which is essentially what the 1st position B7 shape is) in various places on the fretboard. You can add a bit of interest by using your little finger to fret notes within the chords.

Some fingerings include:

076700 (E7)
076780 (E7+9)
007670 (A6)
007680 (A7)
767800 (B7)

You can also do similar stuff around the 12 fret.

Also a good transtition chord sequence is to slide the B7 shape down from the 4th to the 1st fret:

X43404 (C#7)
X32303 (C7+B)
X21202 (B7)

then resolve to an E and B7 again
Last edited by Garthman at Aug 26, 2016,