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Three Chord Blues Progression

The three chord blues progression can be either major or minor. They are mostly 12 bars long before they return to a new verse.

This progression has been around since the end of the 18th century.

It still remains pretty much the same except for chord embellishment and substitution.

Jazz?Blues styles really change a lot of the chords so you wouldn't recognize it as a standard Blues progression.

It still follows the basic rules of the I, IV and V changes in major and minor progressions.

This progression is used for many rock songs too, just played a little different.

About the Roman Numerals

When I use Roman Numerals the Upper case are for major chords like I, IV and V and lower case are for minor chords like i, iv, and v.

You will see me reference these chords like this all through the site.

This is the basic progression there are also many variations but this is the basic skeleton.

Basic Three Chord Blues progression Layout

3 Chord Blues Progression

Four measures of the I or i chord followed by

Two measures of the IV or iv chord followed by

Two measures of the I or i chord again then followed by

Two measures of the V or v chord then followed by

Two measures of the I or i chord then start over.

Basic Skeleton

I or i
I or i
I or i
I or i

IV or iv
IV or iv
I or i
I or i

V or v
V or v
I or i
I or i

Major and Minor Blues Progressions

The major blues progressions are made from the 3 major chords I, IV and V of the major scale.

The minor blues can come from the Natural minor scale which is the major scale starting on the 6th note. In which case the chords would be i, ii, and v. The minor chords are actually the vi, ii and iii of the major scale.

This is a variation of the above basic skeleton using a IV(major) chord in the 10th measure

three chord blues using Roman Numerals

Major Scale Chord Numbering

C
D
E
F
G
A
B
C

I
ii
iii
IV
V
vi
vii
I

Three Chord Blues Progression

Major Progression Major Progression

Lets make a major progression in G using Dominant 7th chords.

Here are some chord diagrams

G seventh guitar chord third position root on sixth string
C seventh guitar chord third position root on fifth string
D seventh guitar chord fifth position root on fifth string

This is a variation of the above skeleton using a iv(minor) chord in the 10th measure

three chord blues in G Major

This is very basic dominant chord blues progression

Three Chord Minor Progression

Here are the chord diagrams for this progression

G minor guitar chord third position root on sixth string
C minor guitar chord third position root on fifth string
D minor guitar chord fifth position root on fifth string

three chord minor blues chord progression in G

I hope you found this page useful.

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