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The ULTIMATE Before You Accuse Me Guitar Lesson

Today I want to share with you the ULTIMATE “Before You Accuse Me” guitar lesson. 

This song is a classic blues guitar tune and I’m going to break down a number of iconic versions, from the Bob Diddley original version from 1957 to later cover versions as well. 

You’ll learn the chords, theory, and even how to play epic blues solos over this classic blues jam. 

So grab your guitar and let’s get started!

Who wrote Before You Accuse Me?

"Before You Accuse Me" is a classic blues song written and originally recorded by Bo Diddley. "Before You Accuse Me" was recorded in 1957, and released as a single by Checker Records, a subsidiary of Chess Records

The song was part of Bo Diddley's self-titled debut album, which is often referred to as "Bo Diddley."

This groovy tune is considered a blues standard and has been covered by numerous artists over the years, demonstrating its lasting popularity and influence in the world of blues and rock music.

Eric Clapton recorded a notable cover of the song, which appeared on his 1989 album "Journeyman." Clapton's version helped introduce the song to a new generation of music fans.

While the song itself may not have won specific awards, Bo Diddley's contribution to the blues and rock and roll genres, including "Before You Accuse Me," has been recognized through his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and his influential impact on music.

"Before You Accuse Me" remains a fan favorite and is frequently performed at blues jams. Its timeless appeal continues to be celebrated through various cover versions and renditions by artists across different eras and styles of music.

Before You Accuse Me Chords

To play “Before You Accuse Me” you’ll only need to know three chords E7, A7, and B7. These three chords make up the backbone of countless blues tunes. Here are a few bluesy chord diagrams I would use to play this song. 

E7 can be played by fingering a typical open E chord, but adding your pinkie finger to the 3rd fret on the 2nd string like this:

A7 is played from the 5th string down like this:

B7 is also played from the 5th string like this:

In a typical blues chord progression in E, the E7, A7, and B7 are essential chords that create the characteristic blues sound. 

Let’s next take a look at how these chords relate musically in the progression:

E7 (E dominant seventh):

The E7 chord is the I (one) chord in an E blues.

It's based on the E major chord (E-G#-B) with the addition of the D note, which is the dominant seventh (D) in the E major scale (E-F#-G#-A-B-C#-D#).

In the blues, the E7 chord is typically played for the first four bars. However, in “Before You Accuse Me” we are going to use something called a “quick IV” which we’ll discuss below in the progression.

A7 (A dominant seventh):

The A7 chord is the IV (four) chord in the key of E blues.

It's based on the A major chord (A-C#-E) with the addition of the G note, which is the dominant seventh (G) in the A major scale (A-B-C#-D-E-F#-G#).

In an E blues, the A7 chord is typically played for the next two bars, following the E7 chord.

B7 (B dominant seventh):

The B7 chord is the V (five) chord in the key or E.

It's based on the B major chord (B-D#-F#) with the addition of the A note, which is the dominant seventh (A) in the B major scale (B-C#-D#-E-F#-G#-A#).

In an E blues, the B7 chord is typically played for one bar, and then followed by a bar of A7. This leads back to the E7 chord and then the B7 chord one last time to turn the progression back around. 

The basic blues progression in the key of E would go like this:

||: E7 | A7 | E7 | E7 |

| A7 | A7 | E7 | E7 |

| B7 | A7 | E7 | B7 |

  • The first four bars consist of the E7 chord, with the exception of bar 2 which uses the “quick IV”. This established the "home" or tonic chord.

  • The next two bars feature the A7 chord, creating a harmonic change and tension.

  • Then, you return to the E7 chord for two bars, resolving the tension.

  • Finally, the last four bars introduce the B7 chord and use a turnaround. These final four bars intensify the tension before resolving back to the top of the progression and completing the cycle.

Playing this progression in order creates a classic blues sound and is a hallmark of the style. 

Before You Accuse Me Bo Diddley Version

Bo Diddley's music had a profound influence on the development of rock and roll. His driving rhythm, unconventional guitar playing, and raw energy set the stage for future rock guitarists and bands. 

Bo Diddley was a pioneering figure in both the blues and rhythm & blues genres. His innovative approach to guitar and rhythm, as heard in this song, helped shape the direction of these styles. And set the stage for future rock guitarists and bands.

Eric Clapton Before You Accuse Me Unplugged Guitar Lesson

Eric Clapton's unplugged version of "Before You Accuse Me" is part of his critically acclaimed live album Unplugged. This groundbreaking album was recorded at Bray Studios in Windsor, England in January 1992.  

The release of this record was a significant milestone in Clapton's career and is known for its acoustic renditions of some of his classic songs, including "Layla" and "Tears in Heaven."

Eric Clapton's unplugged version of "Before You Accuse Me" received widespread acclaim from both critics and fans.

The "Unplugged" album itself won several Grammy Awards in 1993.

Clapton's acoustic interpretation of "Before You Accuse Me" showcased his exceptional guitar skills, particularly his mastery of acoustic blues. It was praised for its authenticity and emotional depth.

Before You Accuse Me Guitar Solo Lesson

The primary scale you would want to use to solo over “Before You Accuse Me” would be the E minor blues scale.

This scale adds that characteristic "bluesy" sound to your guitar solos and melodies. 

In this scale you'll find the following notes:

E (root)

G (minor third)

A (fourth)

Bb (flat fifth, often called the "blue note" in the blues context)

B (fifth)

D (minor seventh)

E (octave)

Here are five tips you can use to help you get started with playing lead using the blues scale:

Tip 1: Learn the Scale and Variations: 

Practice playing the blues scale in different positions and across the fretboard to become comfortable with the variations and patterns.

Tip 2: Listen to Blues Music:

Listening to blues music is crucial for understanding the phrasing, timing, and feel of blues improvisation. Pay attention to how blues guitarists bend notes, slide, and use vibrato to add expression to their playing.

Study the solos of blues legends like B.B. King, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Eric Clapton to gain insights into their improvisational techniques.

Tip 3: Practice Call and Response: 

Blues music often features call-and-response patterns, where a musical phrase is followed by a response or answer. Practice creating your own call-and-response phrases when improvising.

Try playing a short phrase and then responding to it with another phrase that complements or contrasts with the first one.

Tip 4: Experiment with Dynamics and Timing:

Blues is not just about the notes you play but also how you play them.

Experiment with dynamics (volume) and timing (rhythmic variations) to add emotion and depth to your improvisation. 

Use techniques like staccato (short, separated notes) and legato (smooth, connected notes) to create contrast in your playing.

Tip 5: Use Bending and Vibrato:

Bending notes is a hallmark of blues guitar playing. Practice bending the notes within the blues scale to achieve an expressive, vocal-like quality in your solos.

Vibrato (a subtle, regular fluctuation in pitch) is another essential technique. Develop control over your vibrato to infuse your notes with character and feeling.

Remember that improvisation is about expressing yourself, so don't be afraid to make mistakes or explore different sounds. 

As you gain more experience, your improvisational skills will improve, and you'll develop your own unique style within the blues genre. 


To wrap it up, "Before You Accuse Me" is a timeless blues classic that originated with Bo Diddley and has left a lasting mark on the world of blues and rock music. Bo Diddley's original recording in 1957 set the stage for a song that would be covered by numerous artists. 

Understanding the song's chord progression, which is all based around E7, A7, and B7, is essential for anyone looking to play the blues. Learning to play these chords and the associated blues scale is a crucial step toward mastering the art of blues guitar.

So keep practicing and for more fun blues guitar lessons check out this blog on the 101 Best Blues Songs To Learn On Guitar next!

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