Blues Lessons. Part 4 - Blues Turnarounds

You'll learn blues turnarounds.

18
These turnarounds are mainly in E, but I've put in a few in other keys. They are just a collection of things I've picked up over the years. I'd be very interested in any others anyone's got. The timing for all is 4/4, and I've used triplets to try and convey the timing, although it's not a 100% guaranteed accurate! Experiment, and get the feel. 'Underlined' notes are the main beat (1 2 3 4), other numbers the triplets. I've tried to identify songs where I can, but I'm sure I've subconciously 'borrowed' most of them; Sorry Mr. Johnson... Where a song is given, try and listen to the record to get a feel for the timing. The main thing with these is not necessarily accuracy and timing, but getting that 'blues feel'. Experiment with slides, slight bends, slightly late or early notes, etc. until it feels 'bluesy'. I tend to play most of these fingerpicked, but most are amenable to plectrum with a bit of practice. If you like these, let me know, I'm sure I can dig out some more if ht edemand is there. Turnarounds in E A useful 'basic' turnaround in E is (L = slightly late):
                                                  L 
  |------------0--------0--------0--|--0-------------
  |------3--------2--------1--------|--0-------------
  |------4--------3--------2--------|--1-------3s-2--
  |---------------------------------|----------2s-1--
  |---------------------------------|----------3s-2--
  |--0------------------------------|----------------
     1   2  2  3  3  2  3  4  2  3    1  2  3  2  + (3 4)
     -   -        -        -          -        -     - -
  Picking the notes individually gives a different feel:
                                             L 
  |---------0--------0--------0-----|--0--------
  |------------3--------2--------1--|--0--------
  |------4--------3--------2--------|--1--3s-2--
  |---------------------------------|-----2s-1--
  |---------------------------------|-----3s-2--
  |--0------------------------------|-----------
     1   2  2  3  3  2  3  4  2  3     1  2  + (3 4)
     -   -        -        -           -  -     - -
 
Adding hammer-ons and slides gives more interest. Play these as grace notes (I. e. short as possible). The hammer-on can be 'trilled', I. e. rapidly hammered on and off (listen to 'Before You Accuse me' by Clapton for the effect). The final B7 can slid to from above or below:
                                                 L
  |----------0--------0--------0-----|-----0--------
  |-------------3--------2--------1--|-----0--------
  |----3s-4--------3--------2--------|--0-h1--1s-2--
  |----------------------------------|--------0s-1--
  |----------------------------------|--------1s-2--
  |--0-------------------------------|--------------
     1 +  2  2  3  3  2  3  4  2  3        1  2  + (3 4)
     -    -        -        -              -  -     - -
An alternate last bar is (in the second bar, play either the E or G string, whichever sounds best - don't play both):
                                                   L 
  |---------0--------0--------0-----|-----4--4--3--2--
  |------------3--------2--------1--|-----0--0--0--0--
  |------4--------3--------2--------|--1--4--4--3--2--
  |---------------------------------|-----------------
  |---------------------------------|-----------------
  |--0------------------------------|--0--------------
     1   2  2  3  3  2  3  4  2  3     1  +  2  + 3 (4)
     -   -        -        -           -     -    -  -
For a change, finger the E string as well, and try a different arpeggio.
                                               L
  |-----4--------3--------2-----0--|-------------
  |--------3--------2--------1--0--|-------------
  |--4--------3--------2--------1--|-----0s-1s-2-
  |--------------------------------|--------0s-1-
  |--------------------------------|-----0s-1s-2-
  |--------------------------------|-------------
     1  2  3  2  2  2  3  2  3  4    (1) +  2  + (3 4)
     -        -        -        -     -     -     - -
There are 'endless' variations on this one, and experimentation is recommended. The next one is bit more complicated, and is is a double-stopped run. Try experimenting around the shapes in the examples above, and bits of the E7 chord, to get similar effects. t is a 'bendy tremelo'.
  |-----------------------------|--------------
  |-----3s-4s-3--0--------------|--------------
  |-----2s-3s-2--0--------------|--------1s-2--
  |-----------------0--2--2-----|--2-----0s-1--
  |-----------------0--2--------|--------1s-2--
  |--0--------------------3t-0--|-----0--------
     1  g  +  2  +  3  +  4  +     1  +  2  + (3 4)
     -        -     -     -        -     -     - -
For the rest of the turnarounds, I've just given one, basic version, but the same effects can be achieved with slides, hammer-ons, different pickings, etc. Again, experiment until something sounds good. Try and achieve variety; a long blues song has a lot of turnarounds. Some other basic ones.
  |-----0-----0-----0--------|--------0-----2--
  |--------------------------|-----0-----3--0--
  |--------4-----3-----2--0h-|--1-----------2--
  |--------------------------|--------------1--
  |--------5-----4-----3-----|--------------2--
  |--0-----------------------|-----------------
     1  +  2  +  3  +  4  +     1  2  3  2  + (3 4)
     -     -     -     -        -        -     - -
This can 'triplet-ed' for slow stuff. 9ths are used instead of 7ths for a different, 'jazzier' feel.
  |-----0-----0--------0--------0-----|-----3s-2--
  |-----------------------------------|-----3s-2--
  |--------4-----4--3-----3--2-----2--|--1--3s-2--
  |-----------------------------------|-----2s-1--
  |--------5--------4--------3--------|--2--32-2--
  |--0--------------------------------|-----------
     1  +  2  2  3  3  2  3  4  2  3     1  2  + (3 4)
     -     -        -        -           -  -     - -
Here's a few runs for turnarounds. It's a bit difficult to express the timing of this one. The hammer-on is a grace note, and the pull-off run is in the time of half a note.
                                               L
  |-----------0--------------------------|-----2--
  |--------0-----3--0--------------------|-----0--
  |--0h-1--------------3p-2p-0-----0-----|-----2--
  |-----------------------------2-----2--|--0--1--
  |--------------------------------------|-----2--
  |--------------------------------------|--------
     g  1  2  3  2  +  |--3--|  +  4  +     1  +
        -        -        -        -        -
This one is quite simple, and be played quite fast with a plectrum or picked.
  |-----------------------------|--------
  |--------3--------------------|--------
  |--3s-4-----2--0--------------|--------
  |-----------------2--0--2--0--|--------
  |-----------------------------|--2--2--
  |-----------------------------|--------
     g  1  +  2  +  3  +  4  +     1  +
        -     -     -     -        -
This one is from a Lightnin' Sam Hopkins song - I've probably cobbled it together from lots of his stuff. Try 'Bald-Headed Woman' if you can get hold of it (I may be wrong). Don't worry too much about the timing of the 'fast bit', just fit it in. It's written down as 16th notes. Bend the G with a bit of tremolo for best effect.
  |--------------------------------|--------------
  |--------------------------------|--------------
  |--------------------------------|--------3--2--
  |--------0h-2p-0-----0--2--------|--------2--1--
  |-----2-----------2--------3-----|-----3-----2--
  |--0--------------------------3b-|--0-----------
     1  +  2  a  +  a  3  +  4  +     1  +
Here's a couple of ideas for turnarounds up the neck. This one is "Malted Milk" by Robert Johnson, (almost) as done by Clapton on "Unplugged". (I've simplified the ending a bit)
                                         L
  |--------7--7--6--6-----5--|--5--------2--
  |--------6--6--5--5-----4--|--4--------0--
  |--------6--6--5--5-----4--|--4--------2--
  |-----6--------5--5-----4--|--4--0h-1--1--
  |--------------------------|-----------2--
  |--0-----------------------|--------------
     1  +  2  +  3  + (4) +     1  +  2  + (3 4)
     -     -     -     -        -     -     - -
This is a slight variation, using diminished chords). It sounds best in a slow blues, otherwise you don't hear the subtlety in the second bar (I. e. the G string change).
  |-----7--7--6-----6-----5--|--5--5--5--
  |-----6--6--5-----5-----4--|--4--4--4--
  |-----7--7--6-----6-----5--|--5--4--4--
  |-----6--6--5-----5-----4--|--4--4--4--
  |--------------------------|-----------
  |--0-----------------------|-----------
     1  +  2  3 (2) 3 (4) +     1  2  + (3 4)
     -     -  -        -        -  -     - -
                                     
  |-----9--9--9--8-----8--8-----8--|--7------7--0h-2--
  |-----7--7--7--6-----6--6-----6--|--5------5--0--0--
  |--------------------------------|------------0h-2--
  |--------------------------------|---------------1--
  |--------------------------------|---------------2--
  |--0-----------------------------|------------------
     1  2  2  3  3 (2) 3  4 (2) 3     1 (2) 3   2  +
     -  -        -        -           -         -
For other variations, try bits of other inversions of B7 and E7 chords at the appropriate places. Finally in E, Not really a turnaround, but a nice finish to a song (I. e. the last turnaround) is to slide into E9. Let the final chord ring. You can even do a slow slide down after it's rung for a bit.
  |-----6-s7----     
  |-----6-s7----     
  |-----6-s7----     
  |-----7-s8----     
  |-----6-s7----     
  |--0----------
     1  2  + 
     -  -    
Turnarounds in Any Key. Handy in a solo (of the right 'feel'). This is in G - move it up and down the neck as required (I. e. to 5 for A, 6 for Bb, etc).
  |--3-----3--3-----3--3-----3--3--------|-----
  |--6--------5--------4--------3--------|--3--
  |--------------------------------------|--5--
  |--------------------------------------|--4--
  |--------------------------------3-h4--|-h5--
  |--------------------------------------|-----
     1 (2) 3  2 (2) 3  3 (2) 3  4  2  3     1  (2 3 4)
     -        -        -        -           -   - - -
  You can substitute 9ths for the end of this, e.g.

  |--3-----3--3-----3--3-----3--3--3s-4s-|--5--
  |--6--------5--------4--------3--3s-4s-|--5--
  |--------------------------------3s-4s-|--5--
  |--------------------------------2s-3s-|--4--
  |--------------------------------3s-4s-|--5--
  |--------------------------------------|-----
     1 (2) 3  2 (2) 3  3 (2) 3  4  2  3     1  (2 3 4)
     -        -        -        -           -   - - -
Experiment with only bits of the (9th) chords, e. g. 3rd, 4th and 5th strings only. The 1st run in E (above) is also good in any key; I take it up to the 8th fret for blues in C. Listen to "I'm Tore Down" by Clapton (From the Cradle) for use of similar stuff (He did it long before me... ). Try with this start to the run if higher up the neck - this is in A:
                                               L
  |--------5--------------------------|--------
  |-----5-----8--5--------------------|--------
  |--7b-------------8p-7p-5-----5-----|--------
  |--------------------------7-----7--|--5-----
  |-----------------------------------|-----7--
  |-----------------------------------|--------
     1  2  3  2  +  |--3--|  +  4  +     1  +
     -        -        -        -        -
Turnarounds in A This is from Robert Johnson's "32-20 Blues". It's a bit simplified.
  -----|--4--4--4--4--4--4--4--4--4--4--4--4--|--------0----
  -----|--------------------------------------|-----------3-
  -----|--------------------------------------|--0-h1-------
  -----|--4--------3--------2--------1--------|-------------
  --0--|--------------------------------------|-------------
  -----|--------------------------------------|-------------
 (4)+     1  2  3  2  2  3  3  2  3  4  2  3     1  2  3  2 (3 4)
  -       -        _        -        -           -        -  - -
Turnarounds in Open G (DGDGBD) This is from a Robert Johnson song, I think it was "Kind-Hearted Woman". Use a bottleneck for the slide. The 'g's in this and the next one are grace notes.
  G--------------------------------------|-----------------
  B--------------------------------------|-----------------
  G-----------------0--------0--0--0--0--|--0--------------
  D-----------3--------2--------1--------|-----------0--0--
  G--------------------------------------|-----2s-4--------
  D-----------3--------2--------1--------|--0--------------
     1 (2) 3  2 (2) 3  3 (2) 3  4  2  3     1  g  +  2  +
     -        -        -        -           -        -
This is from "Walking Blues". Clapton also does this on "Unplugged". Use a bottleneck for the slide.
  G-----------------------------------------|--------
  B--0--0--0--0-----0--0-----0--0-----------|--------
  G--0--0--0--0-----0--0-----0--0-----------|--0--0--
  D--3--------2--------1--------0-----3s-4--|--------
  G-----------------------------------------|--------
  D-----------------------------------------|--------
     1 (2) 3  2 (2) 3  3 (2) 3  4 (2) g  3     1  +  (2 3 4) 
     -        -        -        -              -     

17 comments sorted by best / new / date

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    ChrisB
    How can you not know who Robert Johnson is?!? He's one of the first famous bluesmen! He sold his soul to the devil at the crossroads.
    fancy footwerk
    thanks i found that one refreshingly usefull iand i cant belive that twat asked who robert johnson was..... oh and guys he sold his soul to the devil at the cross roads for his guitar skills and i think james cotton is'nt worthy to change Mr johnsons guitar stings devil or no devil
    GlitteryGold
    Wow, I just might sell my soul to the Devil for guitar skills...what do I need a soul for anyway, i'm not a soul singer.
    playerwannabe
    GlitteryGold wrote: Wow, I just might sell my soul to the Devil for guitar skills...what do I need a soul for anyway, i'm not a soul singer.
    I think you might need youe soul in blues I don't think that you need it in death metal though but blues I'm sure you might.
    crazyhands
    this is completely stolen form blueslessons.net from the turnaround sections.
    Barnes
    Come on Thokk! Steve Vai definatly is in crossroads. He plays the role of the devils new apprentice in the end. And SRV did not play guitar on the soundtrack, Ry Cooder did. Couldn't you spot his slide guitar work a mile away?
    hildesaw
    Thokk wrote: Stevie vai isnt in crossroads, but stevie ray vaughan is playing all the music from the movie
    Well actually Steve Vai is in Crossroads- about the last 15 minutes actually. And Stevie Ray Vaughan does not play all the blues music in the movie. If you look in the credits you'll actually see that it is Ry Cooder
    lord steve von
    ok lesson nice turn arounds,hey steve vai,stevie vaughan, ry cooder,who cares they all grear players and anyone of them could play the music in the crossroads,not seen that movie for ages,can ya send a copy
    Thokk
    Stevie vai isnt in crossroads, but stevie ray vaughan is playing all the music from the movie
    king of swing
    My compliments on this lesson. Who is Mr. Johnson?!? Go and buy the new Eric Clapton album (Me and Mr. Guess who?), or look for the movie 'Crossroads' (with Steve Vai among others), which is partly based on the legend of the same Mr. Johnson.