The Dan Thorpe Acoustic Academy
March 2022 – Exclusive “Deep Dive” Lesson
How to Play A Fingerstyle 12-Bar Blues (No Matter What Your Skill Level)
I always say, every guitarist should learn at least one stunning 12-bar blues piece in their guitar playing lifetime. It’s fun, unique, instantly recognizable, emotive, audiences love it, and as this version does NOT need chords, it gives you a break from tough stuff like hard chords and chord changes! Get the TAB below your chosen arrangement, print it off, and take your time with this piece. The blues is great fun!
An Important Introduction and Listen To Both Arrangements
Take a listen below, choose which version you want to learn (if in any doubt at all, start with the beginner version).
The Palm Muting Essentials – Watch This First
It’s important you get the palm muting just right first. Whichever arrangement you choose to learn, watch this video first as the palm muting technique and the picking hand tips in this video will really help you get started off on the right foot.
How To Play Version 1 – The Beginner Arrangement
If in doubt, start with this arrangement. It’s simpler and it will help you to play a really fun 12-bar blues but without being technically too hard. It will still take practice of course, piecing it together, but once you nail bar 1 and 2, the rest of the piece will start to be unlocked.
How To Play Version 2 – The “Early Intermediate” Arrangement
The “Early Intermediate” arrangement is great fun to play. It builds nicely on top of the ideas in the beginner version and has a lot of syncopation in it (as players like Eric Clapton and Tommy Emmanuel use a lot in their blues). Watch the video closely and spend a lot of time on bar 1 as this will “unlock” the rest of the piece.
I hope you enjoy these blues arrangements. The blues is unique, sounds like nothing else, and everyone should have one solid blues piece in their repertoire. Learning and mastering either of the above will add new skills, new enjoyment, and a new sound to your playing. The blues is the backbone of so many styles and is present in so much music from the last 100 years, so I hope you enjoy going through time and space as you learn these licks!
Leave a comment below. I would love to know your thoughts on this and enjoy!
I am looking forward to working on this-I just love the palm muted bass sound. Thanks Dan
Great stuff, Martin. It’s a lot of fun to play, and I hope you enjoy! 🙂
Need to practice the palm mute more. I have struggled with making it consistent as I think my mute hand moves depending on what else I am picking. Need to keep any eye on it as I practice. Do you have any additional common mistakes you see/correct when you teach students palm muting? The hand placement appears key as well as the pressure.
Cheers, Ryan. Glad you are on it with the palm mute. It’s a very fine art. Subtle movements in all directions with the picking hand (left, right, up, down) and the angle the hand touches the string makes a difference as well as pressure. I found picking up the guitar throughout the day for a minute or two and only playing the palm mute on the open low E string (no other notes) frequently helped me find the position faster. Hope that helps and let us know how you get on or if you have more questions on it.
Going to enjoy both of these pieces. Another great lesson.
Thanks, was so much fun creating. Hope you have many hours of fun with them. 🙂
Funny, I am good at palm muting with strumming but not so much with fingerstyle playing. Tripping me up. Will get the feel down before moving past the first two bars. Good lesson though, I am enjoying the challenge.
Good stuff, definitely a good thing taking the time to really nail the palm muting. Will make learning the rest of the piece more enjoyable and more fun to play. 🙂
I’m actually surprised, I got this almost down. Probably will tackle the early intermediate next week! I like the palm muting, and the finger pinking of this piece , not only that the hammer ons and offs are coming along. Really fun to do!
Awesome stuff, Diane. That’s quick so a big well done. Keep at it and keep having fun. Hope you enjoy the intermediate one too 🙂
Enjoying this immensely 3rd day in mastered the beginner albeit with tender picking thumb and ring finger whoops!!
Super stuff, Angie. Sounds like you have been having a blast with it then! Hopefully the thumb and finger are okay and keep having fun. 🙂
This past year I’ve actually been practicing occasionally with a thumb pick along with this exact palm muting. Really looking forward to putting this technique into play with your intermediate arrangement. Really sounds awesome. Thanks for this challenge Dan!
Thanks, Don. Glad you are enjoying this style. You’ll have loads of fun with this piece for sure! 🙂
Good practice today on the palm muting. Thought I had it down till I started this piece. Thanks for another great lesson.
Well done. Palm muting is a subtle art and you will keep refining it – glad you’re enjoying the lesson. 🙂
I am so glad you prepared this lesson – I am having so much fun with it!!! Also, it’s a fun break from working on wayfaring stranger!! I may never get back to the actual fingerstyle 101 course!!! 🙂 Cheer, and thanks again!!
Cheers, Logan, Pleased to hear it. Had a blast creating it too and even Archie was like “dad, that’s cool”, so I knew it would be a winner. Keep up the good work and don’t worry about F101 – it will be there when you need it. For now, keep having fun. 🙂
Good morning Dan
Really good month hope you will expand on the blues theme.
Got a good routine going I start with the cycle exercise then the four min exercise followed by the blues. Finish off with wayfaring stranger. All those exercise pushes home the amount of pressure needed to perform.
Loved the tip about hunching your shoulders which I’m guilty of, following your advise and pleased with the result. Thanks for all you doing.
I hope you and archie are settling in to your new home
Hi William, good stuff. Already thinking of a few blues ideas for the future and incorporating this style into a few famous pieces. It’s a work in progress but will be fun. Delighted to hear of your progress and many thanks, we both love the new home. 🙂 Keep up the great work.
Gonna do the beginner, til I nail it. Need to work on PM though
Good stuff, Bruce. Keep at the PM – getting that tight and punchy sound is a big part of the battle. Enjoy!
I’m doing the beginner version and it is a lot of fun!! I have it pretty much down but need to work more on the last bar. Then I’ll try the other one. Really enjoying it!
Pleased to hear it. Sounds like you’re having fun and going about it the right way. Keep it up. 🙂
I really love this! The ending is so much fun. I have a long way to go to master this, but feel like i’m heading in the right direction with it. Will keep at it.
Awesome. Glad to hear it. Just curious, which version are you doing at the mo?
I’m working on the 2nd one.. but i’m really having a hard time with the syncopation of the notes.. ;-( It just sounds awful.. I am going very slow , its like getting the low E strum in there is a struggle. I will need to go back to the video and take it step by step again. Adding one note at a time. I know it will come, If I don’t get that, I won’t be able to play this version since that is a good part 5-6 bars of it.. But find it fun, if I get to… Read more »
and still practicing the beginner one as well.
It is tricky but do not worry. It’s only been a week and a bit since the lesson was out and it took me ages back in the day trying this style. Keep it steady, slow the video down if you need to and make sure you can hear and hum the groove. This will help it click quicker. You will 100% get it soon. 🙂
I dedicated my whole practice today to this, with slowing the video down. It really helps. Its going to take a while to get this but having so much fun with it.
Awesome. Sounds like a really productive, and a great day. Great stuff. Keep up the fun!
what tempo to set m click to?
For the beginner one I play it about 120bpm and the early intermediate about 140bpm, BUT definitely try both slower at first. Roughly 80bpm is a decent tempo to practice it at (give or take 10bpm or so).
Working on this…. So fun!
The Guitar Theory book is wonderful. I have only used it with piano, and to have it applied to guitar takes away so much mystery about the fretboard.
Ah, glad to hear it on both counts. Theory ain’t always easy but nice to know the book has helped so far. Definitely a book to keep coming back to over and over too. 🙂
Absolutely loving this, someone heard me practicing the beginner one and said how good it sounded !!! When I listened to both pieces at the beginning of the month I never imagined I would be able to even attempt the intermediate but i am getting on really well with it just struggling with getting the last 3 or 4 bars to flow. Thanks Dan for the brilliant lessons.
It’s so cool to hear this. Always a nice feeling to get complimented on your playing and even better to know you are capable of achieving more than you thought you could. Huge well done and keep at it – sounds like the rest of the piece will get there soon too. 🙂
So, palm muting requires you to have your palm close to the bridge and your hand close to the strings . But I have been trying to get a good plucking sound by using the cup position and my hand clear of the strings. I find that I can palm mute but by fingerpicking sound has gone from clear to not good. Are we looking at two different fingerpicking styles here?
Yeah, the standard way of fingerpicking is to use the “cup” and let the hand float. This palm muting technique is different in a few ways. If your tone is not good it may be that you are deadening the strings too much. Try lightly getting the side of your picking hand on the strings at the point where they meet the bridge. It takes a fair bit of experimenting and adjusting to get the hand position just right. Let me know how you get on.
My tone is much better now thanks Dan. I think that I was deadening the strings too much like you say, but also I am plucking with a slightly different position on my fingers – seem to have hardened up a bit now so a better sound now
Super, that is really pleasing to hear, Martin, and just goes to show the power of refining and tweaking, especially with techniques like this. Great work! 🙂
Hey Dan, loving the early intermediate 12 bar blues. Taking it really slow. I am using my metronome ( ugh) for the first bar. Really practicing the beat in time. The dreaded metronome is really beginning to advance my skill…. slowly… but I continue to notice my improvement. As always, GREAT LESSON! and thx👍
Brilliant. Sounds like you’re having a tonne of fun with it. Great stuff using the metronome too. That’s really pleasing to hear and it sounds like you are growing to love using one. 🙂
Haha so funny looking back at my comment about palm muting with fingerstyle. It’s quite easy now, with practice it all just just became natural. Obviously practicing promotes progress hahaha. It is fun to read my past comments and compare to where I am now. Cheers Dan!
Glad to hear it. Just goes to show how far you are progressing, and a great reminder to everyone that what feels tough now can be achieved soon – with focus and practice. Awesome work! 🙂
That is so cool Dan! I’m probably stepping up where I shouldn’t be just yet, but I have to learn this one (along with the April lessons of course) 🙂 Then my goal would be to lead in with the beginner version and immediately follow with this version – big goals!!! 🙂
You make learning so much fun and I appreciate how you teach step-by-step!!!
Good stuff, Logan. As long as you feel happy with that and not overwhelmed, go for it and enjoy! My pleasure, and I love the enthusiasm. 🙂
HAHA – hard to believe one bar can take so long to nail down – but I LOVE it!!!
I was happy to hear you say “if it takes you 6 months….” 🙂
Great fun this one!
It can be tricky but glad you’re patient and the good thing is, once the first bar is out of the way, the rest uses the same ideas so it all gets easier. Enjoy! 🙂
Hi Dan, well March came in like a lion, progress was good and then you hit us with some Blues, I love the sound and attacked it with Gusto! Sadly I had a cruise to go on and my flight allowance didn’t allow my guitar to come, so no practice for two weeks. Got back and I was struck down with covid and was pretty poorly until 8 April by which time Aprils lessons are upon us and “Archies Song” as I said previously there is a familiar undertone. However I opened my book and there was the blues again… Read more »
Lovely to read this, John. Delighted that you are back to it and playing some great stuff. That’s a nice compliment from your daughter – you’ve both got some great taste in music. Keep up the super work and glad you’re back in good health. 🙂
Really enjoying both of these pieces Dan.
I have an acoustic with a pickup, so I wondered how they would sound with that turned on… REALLY COOL!!!! 🙂
Love this stuff!!!!!
Ace, glad to hear it! Yeah, I can imagine you’re having some good fun cranking it up! 🙂
This is SO MUCH FUN – I hope you have more Blues lessons – I have this going through my head all day – SO MUCH fun to play!!!!
Take care and cheers!!
Ace, near the bottom half of the In Focus course there is a blues mini course. Hope you enjoy! 🙂
Been with group three months, doing the things l am now is so satisfying, l know the only way is up.
Brilliant, reading comments like this is awesome. Keep up the fabulous work and well done so far. 🙂
Thank you Dan for being so good at teaching us!!! You were born to do this and we all benefit from it – I LOVE this!!!
My pleasure, Logan. Such a nice thing to say, thank you. Just delighted you are enjoying your playing and having a blast. 🙂
Really looking forward to playing these on the new guitar!!!
thanks for the wonderful lessons Dan!
My absolute pleasure, Logan. Enjoy the new guitar!
I just wanted you to know how much I love the option of slowing your videos down! It’s amazing to me how much I pick up after watching lessons multiple times when slowing them down!
Just wanted to share this with you…
cheers and have a great weekend!
Hi Logan, that’s great to know. Yeah, slowing them down is so useful and glad that feature is available! Makes learning more enjoyable for sure! 🙂
When this lesson came out I had just been in the DTAA for one month. When I listened the intermediate version I thought no way could I play that, so I learned the beginner version. I was revisiting this lesson and watched you play the intermediate version and realized that I could do this now!!! I’m so excited about this and how I’ve progressed since then!! Thank you Dan!!
Wow, that’s what I love to hear! You’ve really started to build up some nice confidence over the last few months. That’s wonderful! Well done and keep that up, Denise! 🙂