A blues ending, often referred to as a blues tag, is a phrase usually executed by the person playing the final solo in a blues number, signifying the end of the song.
As you play through the following E minor pentatonic (E-G-A-B-D) blues tag, which is ready-made for a blues in E, gradually slow down the tempo as you work your way toward the closing chord (E9). Remember: All eyes will be on you at this point—it’s your job to cue the band. And the crowd goes wild!
This next pair of tags can also be used to put the cap on a blues in E. Notice the different applications for double-stops in these two endings. The first inflects each note pair with a quarter-step bend, and like the previous example, ends dramatically with a tremolo-picked E7(˜9) chord. The latter uses hammer-ons in a double-stop context, closing with a common cliché played with pick-and-fingers technique.
Here is a pair of classic endings for a blues in A, each performed in fifth position. The first tag applies a triplet-based bending pattern to each of the top three strings and ends with a chromatically-ascending dominant seventh (˜9) shape, culminating with a tremolo-picked A7(˜9) chord. The blues tag that follows uses a handful of descending double-stops to set up a climatic A9.
Blues endings can also be varied by using different arpeggiation techniques to double- and triple-stops, adding microtonal bends, and the like. Run your fingers through this next trio of blues tags, then try creating some of your own by mixing up the aforementioned techniques.
This final assortment of blues endings features more of a chord-based approach than in previous examples. But although single-note riffing is kept to a minimum in these chord phrases, there is still a good amount of melodic content. In each case, the smooth voice leading used to connect each chord puts the spotlight on the highest string, outlining familiar cliché endings as the chords are shifted around the fretboard. All of the following fit the bill for an E blues, except for the last tag, which is designed for a shuffle in A.