One of the things about blues that makes it easy to play is the fact that the 12 bar blues form is just that – a form that you can depend on.

In fact, if you know the key, and you know the feel, you can often jump right in and play without much else to go on if you have some blues rhythms that you know will work.

So since you should know the 3 chords in the 12 bar blues, no matter what key… it’s time to hip you to some of the most common blues feels.

And in this case we’re going to start with some active listening of the feels so you can connect some dots down the road…

Feel #1 – The Shuffle

The blues shuffle is the quintessential blues feel for most people (right up there with the slow blues.) The main difference between the shuffle and the slow blues is the tempo – but both divide the beat into 3 pieces, not 2 or 4 as is more common in other styles of music.

So as you listen to this clip, try to count the “1 and uh 2 and uh 3 and uh 4 and uh” even though it’ll go by pretty quickly.


Now while that’s a great clip, let’s try something considerably different, but still a shuffle…



Feel #2 – The Slow Blues

Usually, when people say something is a slow blues they intend for it to be a triplet based feel… so it’s basically a shuffle but much slower.

A little something like this:

Again, you want to listen for the “1 and uh 2 and uh 3 and uh 4 and uh” feel. Sometimes it might be called a 12/8 (twelve-eight) or 6/8 (six-eight) feel.

Here’s another one for you:



Feel #3 – The Straight Slow Blues

These are slower, and often in minor keys (all chords are minor instead of 7th) and are prone to stray from the 12 bar blues form so you need to keep your listening ears on and see if you can catch the chords…

But of course, the most famous example of this feel is from BB King…

The original recording of that tune is actually a little faster than a typical slow blues, but the tempo can vary greatly on these as it’s as much about the mood as anything.


Feel #4 – The Straight Rock And Roll Blues

Chuck Berry pretty much established this feel all by himself…

But Stevie Ray Vaughan brought it into the modern era with this:


Feel #5 – The Latin Blues

Some folks call it a Mambo, some call it a Rumba, and I’m not sure which it is to be honest… but I often hear it called a Latin Blues and that seems easier to remember 🙂

Notice the drum groove on these, that’s what you want to focus on.

or this one here might be easier to hear.


If you can at least recognize those sounds and feels, you’re well on your way to being jam session ready!

    57 replies to "The Blues Feels…"

    • Robert Saunders

      There’s a whole lot of different shuffles… just sayin

    • RustedOut

      It’s all “feel” If I don’t ‘feel it” I can’t play it.. counting becomes automatic.. as the “feel” is in control of picking.
      After all, BB King said it was all feel for him So count if you are good at it, but to feel is to play with emotion. Counting seems so analytical… and makes playing sort of in the abstarct of the challenge of getting right.

    • Jim

      Feels? FEEL?! NO, NO, NO….I’ve been taught by an expert blues guitar man that one does not FEEL, one COUNTS!!! Nice demos on different counting!!! 😉

      • PAUL


        • Dave

          So was I

          No signed strat for me though

      • Brian

        Probably better to say:
        You listen to get the count
        You count to get the feel
        Then you just feel!

        Repeat when you forget!

    • Gene

      Bill Folsom—you took the words right out of my 70 year old mouth.

    • DaveyJoe

      Very cool stuff Griff!

    • robert

      Hi Griff, is funky blues a feel of its own or is it a hybrid shuffle form?


    • Michael Chappell

      Thanks Griff, All great ways of the Blues Feels.

      Michael-Sydney- 4th Jan 2018

    • Alvin

      Great “Get ready to gig” package of versatile approaches to lead guitar assignments in a band; whether new or ole pro. Thanks Griff, You got the feel to help your students feel it too; gonna try to live up to the challenge.

    • carlos wilson

      Im going to die if I dont learn to be btter as a guitar player.I might not be one of the grat but I can be great in my own eye sight.I need to known and be able to afford the next step.It haunts me to learn.

    • Alex Mowatt

      Griff as a ‘lefty’ I was pleased to see the observation made about holding the guitar with the base strings lowest to the floor. The holding of the guitar is not the problem so much as there is far less material written/ videoed/tabbed for ‘lefties’ than for people naturally found to be right handed. I find it amusing in that the left side of the brain controls the right hand use and the reverse for the left hand. Great feature Griff.

    • Robert

      in the 3rd video Albert king is playing his guitar up side down Bass strings on the bottom of the guitar.Why is that.

      • DaveMan

        Thats his trademark man. Only he can tell you why.

      • Jimmy Orrell

        Cause thats the way he learned to play. Lots of leftys do the same.

    • bb brown

      The Latin Blues form has historically been strongly associated w/ New Orleans especially in the 1940s thru the 1960s. I think a lot of it traces to the earlier jazz stylings of people like Jelly Roll Morton who referred to the “Spanish Tinge” which was actually Afro-Cuban influences in New Orleans.


    • Roy

      Never thought of Chuck Berry as “blues!” Straight 3 chord rock-n-roll. 🤣

      • Billy Lopezzi

        Have to say read u comment and understand

        But I will tell u this please watch a documentary about Chuck. It was made with the rolling stones group u will see and hear the blues all in this film I really want u to watch at the very end of the video were he is sittin in his home studio alone playing this 4 string or 6 can’t remeber then u will actually have no doubt about his blues..just crazy slow blues on that u will love it .
        Ok sorry so wordy I was but that’s what happens when u turn 60.

      • Barry Shaver

        The “Blues” had a baby and they named it “Rock and Roll”…

    • Eric S Baker

      I can feel the differences! Thank you Mr. Hamlin!

    • Ed Beck

      Man you can be my DJ anytime
      I wasn’t aware that the Latin Blues was a thing. I’ll be listening for it.
      It was also great to hear Paul Butterfield with SRV and Albert King. He is often overlooked.

    • Tom

      Very cool

    • Mark

      Certainly covered the three Kings nicely!

    • Greg

      Awesomely different, especially the “The Latino Blues”.

    • pavel

      Its very nice.Thanks

    • Pete from philly

      Its pretty cool to see you throw in Junior Wells! Everything else is pretty much from the Griff Hamlin short list of favorites. Love seeing n hearing all of ’em too. I learn more n more from this guy. The Blues is a feel. No matter how you slice it. And Griff sliced it up just right.

      • Greg

        Yeah, I agree, you just reminded me of that line out of the Neil Young song “On the Way Home”, where he sings, “though we rush ahead to save our time, we are only what we feel”. It is nice and I think I’ll take a slice myself.

    • Jim Kubitza

      Well, I’m happy (lucky?) to say that I recognize all of those feels and can play to any of them. But I can’t play like THAT!! I have a looong ways to go before I’m ANYWHERE close to being in THAT club! Hearing/seeing a good cross-section of different feels of this caliber all in one spot like this is humbling, inspiring and motivating all at the same time.

    • Guitar Mark

      Albert King and that Flying “V” strung upside down…Amazing, to say the least. A Big “HI” and Happy Holidays from Gun Lake Michigan. Thanx for the Music. It always helps me to get my Guitar ready for practice during the Detroit Pistons game tonight. I try to do Acoustic first quarter, Electric 2nd Quarter, Acoustic 3rd Quarter and then really rev up on the Electric last quarter. Makes practice go by real fast and by the time the night’s over, I feel I’ve accomplished something. Later Bro.

    • John England

      Great blues selection Griff. Excellent tracks to play along with to both listen and see how it is done and to try out whatever you have learnt and see if it actually works for real.

    • Mark Wales uk

      Cheers Griff
      Some interesting shuffle grooves

    • John

      What about Blues-Rock? Rory Gallagher, Gsry Moore, et al

      • John

        Gary, not Gsry! Slip of the finger

    • John

      What a playlist – thanks Griff.

    • kenneth

      great clip really got into counting each example. Thanks Griff, really helped me get the point…going back now and go through them again.

    • Traildog

      Great post! Examples really drive home the concept. A picture is worth a thousand words. Cliche, but absolutley true.

    • Tshiamba

      Great, i like it, thanks

    • Dave

      good stuff…

    • carl reeves

      Good info,helps complement my pentatonic mastery course…tks Griff

    • Sam Iacono


      This is just great. I tink Joe Bonamassa is one of the best guitar players I’ve ever seen or heard.

      • Peter

        Wow some great phrasing on those tunes great stuff

    • Mark Moran

      Another great piece Griff. Well structured comments and examples as usual. This great little montage also highlights the importance of finding your tone for the style. SRV and his Texas Specials remain outstanding. Thanks

    • Eric S Baker

      Griff Hamlin! Thank you for breaking this genre down into recognizable sections! I’ve never seen or heard blues styles demonstrated so well. Kudos!

    • Kim

      Makes me wonder why they called him Slow hand ? w-o-w thank’ s Griff !


      Wow great music Griff.I loved all the the guitar playing and singing. Thank you so much and great lesson.Cheers for the weekend ,have a good one .

    • Strick

      Thanks. I just played along. Very enjoyable.

    • tony

      connect the dots lets see majors minors in a new light seems less complicated then it really is . feel it yeah The KING! SRV seemed steamrolled in the beginning sounded unsavory, but, ironed it out [sorta] . seems they just did not click . Going into a studio session soon. a drummer i know and a guitarist no bass but the guitarist is a wizz on the low end of a guitar . i heard the two play together and the choise of the cords is well not bad but not tasty enough that needs help . i have jammed with the drummer before he is pretty good . i have alot of play out time prefecting my craft . This drummer has warmed up for puddle of mudd and has stuff on the internet of his own, and his old band .

    • Adalberto

      Ciao Griff, many thanks from Italy ! It’s a great, usefull and spicy lesson as usual 🙂

    • Dominic

      It sounded like Joe took god for a walk up the road in the first cut

    • John Wenlock-Smith

      Great examples
      for Latin blues check out Billy Gibbons and the BFGSs new album thats full of smoky latin and cuban rhgythms overlayed wit blues sensibilities its an album of the year for me i love it

    • wayne T. Wright

      real fine explanation…Thanks and Peace Wayne

    • Rich Croce

      Taking a concept and applying real word analogies is a great way of learning music. More of this please.
      Thanks for all that you do!!

    • John

      Breaking it down into the basics once again,demystifying the mystified great job

    • Mike

      Awesome but, it begs the question. If these are “hip”… what is “hep”?

    • Jacklin Trujillo

      I grew up with those Great PlayersI. Only I was into the Singing and Dancing part of it.
      Now it’s time for me to make the Music too. I’m not there yet, but with more enthusiasm and practice, I hope to be able to play and sing my songs.
      So I better get going! I’m not getting any younger and no more babies to care for. I have a lot of time on my hands, to use them to pluck those strings.
      Wish me well. And thank you so much for your expertise and encouragement.

    • bill filson

      excellent, you’re a teachers’ teacher– gifted with an ability that I believe is more rewarding than doing it yourself—SHARING. When I was young
      the guitar players I knew that could really play did not share–that was in the 50’s/60’s—it was almost like ” it was a secret”–I’m 73 years old and I’m finally feeling good about my playing—a lot of that credit, I give to you, THANKS!!!

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