In this lesson we look at another common blues rhythm feel. It’s a standard 12 bar in Bb, and we’re going to play only on the upbeats. What’s an upbeat? Let me try and explain… The music’s basic pulse (1 2 3 4) is the downbeat. This is where you tap your foot. In between we have the upbeats, or off-beats (both terms mean the same thing). If you’re counting the rhythm out loud the upbeat is where you say “and”, as in “1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and”.
It can be a little tricky to get the hang of this feel. Watch your placement of the upbeat, making sure your not rushing or snatching with your strumming hand. Keep a steady foot tap, or practice with a metronome or backing track until it feels “in the pocket”.
I’ve written the chords out below. Download here.
Other things you might like to try, once you have the basic idea:
- Add in some half-step approach chords. I explain these in the video.
- Play in different keys. Try starting on a 5th string root chord and changing down to the IV and V.
- Try using other 7th chord voicings, if you know them.
- Try using 9th chords, 13 chords, 11th chords, or mixing up any, or all, of them.
For an example of this kind of feel, check out Jimmy Reed’s Baby What You Want Me To Do. Notice how one of the guitars is playing a bass note shuffle-type part, and the other is playing on the upbeats. A great thing to try if you’re playing in a band with two guitarists.