In this lesson I’ve decided to part from writing a solo “in the style of” and then teaching it to you note for note. I’m not sure how good of a lesson that is in the long term. When you’re learning a new instrument, there will always be a fair amount of memorization in the beginning… but most people can never make it past the memorization part… they learn it.. and can replicate it, but then ask, “now what?”. So I’d like to start explaining how the boundaries for guitar solos and rhythm work so that you can achieve that (as Oprah says) “a-Ha moment” (good Lord did I just quote Oprah?). B.B. is a good one to start with because I get a lot of requests from people wanting to know more about his style.. but also because it’s fairly easy to explain and understand. So please let me know if these kinds of lessons are more / less valuable than showing you note for note how to play a solo. The reality is it really takes both kinds of lessons, but it’s always good for me to switch things up from time to time.
B.B. King Blues Guitar Lesson
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thanks for that one. Brings me a step further in improvising. You know, when family is watching TV, I just plug my headphone amp in, connect to the mp3-player, start the backing track and just play around. A lesson like this is very valuable, even for a beginner like me. And you’re right that it takes both kinds of lessons to really make progress in playing.
Keep up the excellent work.
Thank you Brian.
I wrote to another forum once because I didn’t understand how the box fitted in with the minor pentatonic scale!!!! Well it doesn’t - its part of the major scale extension and I have previously played those notes in conjunction with the note on the 14th fret (c sharp) and it never sounded as bluesy. The other forum tried to be very helpful (as all guitar players seem to be) but your explanation turned on the light! It is not obvious that you can play minor pentatonic with the major and its good to have it pointed out.
On the backing track there are some cool chords being played as you change from A to D and so on. Are they just slide ups or down of that chord or are they different? I can’t quite make them out.
Your recent rhythm lessons have been very helpful (I haven’t tried the Clapton Mk II yet) but once you have the idea you can adapt them so easily for other backing tracks. What’s clever about teaching is making difficult things easier to understand and you certainly have the gift.
Want any golf lessons?
Haha… no golf lessons for me - I’ve never had much interest (but appreciate the offer) - and your observation of how the minor pentatonic scale can work well with the major pentatonic scale is correct.
As for what I’m doing on the backing track - you guessed it.. I’m just starting those chords either one fret above or below where they’re going to end up.. and sliding them into place to get that effect. Sounds much better than just playing the chord straight (especially on a slow blues song like that)
wow, I learned something new today! more blues!! and you made it so easy!! just a little box to remember!
the other lesson about major and minor pentatonic scale for blues has a lot of notes to consider which made me kind of lost, and not sounding “bluesy” at all..
now this one is pure blues! thanks brian!
Great, great, great, love those little boxes…
L P Dupree says
Cool stuff Brian really nice playing & very informative , thanks for that mate.I remember when I first played guitar all those years ago I had an instruction book on Blues/Rock & it featured the styles of many guitarists & the ” boxes ” they mainly used or played out of.
The book showed that exact box you have described & I even think it was in the same position too !
Clive Page says
Inspiring stuff Brian. I`ve often used the little box but never in the way you do! Back to the jamming room for me cause I got some learning to do!
Brian—I have been lurking on your web site for a couple weeks now soaking- up your blues lessons like a sponge. Your teaching style, knowledge of the blues, and free content are very much appreciated. I’m a 53 year old student who is having a blast learning. Thanks for all your help!
Thanks Mike, glad to hear you’re having a blast. That’s what it’s all about.
@Clive, yeah that little box us the key to a good blues solo. Every solo ends up there at one point or another.
I’ve been doing live lessons at night and will be doing one tonight around 9:30 pm CST, so cone on back to the site.
Brian, you make the BB KIng style very simple to understand without the 1, 4, 5 major, minor, technical mumbo jumbo. You’ve made it fun. Thank you vey much.
wheres the tabs for this lesson? i see the jam track link but not the tabs
If you do another live lesson can you let us know? I have to check what the equivalent time is in England to CST, whatever that is.
Hope things are going ok with the new job!
@ NateGeetar - This one didn’t have tab… just wanted to show the techniques in the video
@ DrGolf - I will, and I’ll post the next live session ahead of schedule so people have a bit more notice and can coordinate. I’m working right now on a deep dive lesson on soloing that I’m going to put up as my first “premium” lesson - meaning for sale. It’ll be priced around $10 and available for immediate access (download). I’m hoping to wrap it up in the next day or 2. I’ll keep you posted.
I must ask where you learned to play like that. Commendations to your teacher, because you’ve obviously taken that ability to teach and multiplied it =D Long live the blues!
bonjour je panse que le jam track ne correspond pas à la vidéo
Brian, Amazing! Thank you so much for your lessons. You are an outstanding teacher and explain everything in an easily understandable way. More BB King!!! Also, could you talk a little about your set up and how you get that “BB” tone. Thanks again.
wow this lesson was amazing thank you! ive been playing for about three years and have learned many different genres of music but i have to say out of all of them i love to play the blues! thank you onece again for posting this lesson BB King is one my my all time favorites,his style is unforgettable and deffinatly fun to play!
thanks for lesson
this s nice lesson. good one
Thanks for the lesson. I have been playing for only a couple of years but BB is the reason I started playing so I have plenty of his music. Im going to see B.B. for the first time in February and Im so excited that I really dont even care if he plays all that much, just to be in the same room with the person that got me started and one of the top 3 most influential guitarists that ever lived is more than enough for me. In regards to what you said your right, as he gets older his bag o tricks gets smaller but I figure that as much as hes done for guitarists today, he has no reason to worry about that except enjoy himself. Besides we have more than enough of his old music to remind us hes the man! Just listen to Live at the Regal 1968 regarded as arguably the greates live blues recording ever, or Live in Japan 1970 (which i personally think is better then LATR) and you will see in his heyday his licks, speed and technique were excellent. Thanks again for the lesson.
My sentiments entirely. Reaching his age and playing the number of gigs a year that he did it is surprising that BB can lift Lucille let alone still entertain people. What always impresses me is that he seems to get a lot of enjoyment out of hearing other people and encouraging young players. I think Joe Bonamassa got encouragement from BB.
I saw him once in the Albert Hall in London, with a small band and they were, to some extent, lost in the enormity of the place. Clapton had been there recently with huge amps and speakers and filled the whole room with sound. And yet, BB’s band was listened to with respect and he got a great reception. Glad I managed to see him once! I too have loads of albums including the Regal.
Hey Dr.Golf, that awesome you got to see him already. If u havent yet check out Live in Japan 1970, it wasnt released until the late 80’s i believe but it is a true Gem for any B.B. fan. Awesome band, awesome playing, great song selection also.
I’m really enjoying these lessons. I have a theory question: in this lesson, you talk about Minor / Major blues boxes on the 8th and 10th frets. Can you talk more about the theory behind why? I get how the A on B string is @ 10th & a D chord shape marks the A maj., but not getting the rest. If you don’t mind…
Can you please help me? I can log on ok but can not get any
videos of you playing, i just get a blank screen wity a red X in a small box in the top left hand corner of your video screen.
Thanks Ray Thomas.
Hey what is the turnaround on this one? I am trying figure it out by ear without going to the axe to see if I am close. (Trying to develop an ear) I have the progression as:
A A A A I I I I
D D A A IV IV I I
E D A E V IV I V turnaround?
Laura M says
ok I’m an idiot but what is nbsp??
Looks like Brian isn’t talking. Anyone know this progression?
hello brian, i just joined this site and cant seem to find where to download the tab can you help me out thanks.
Joec1568 - You can go to the lessons themselves and find the tab and jam tracks.. the big blue buttons underneath the videos.
Brian, there is just the jam track on this one. Can you provide the chord progression?
Unable to download jam track!
Hey Sean - try downloading it now… I just double checked and it worked just fine.
You Brian I have asked you numerous times what the chord progression is in this thread. Since then you have answered everybody else but me. I would like to buy your lesson or lessons but if you are going to apparently go out of your way not to respons to only me for some reason well good luck sir as your customer service skills seem to be far inferior to your musical skills so I hope the rest of you fare better.
As always, thanks for the great lesson. During the session, you briefly play a few bars of a really great sounding Blues rhythm progression in A. Perhaps you would considering expanding on this in a future lesson. Meanwhile, I’m enjoying your Blues Rhythm guitar lesson in E.
You are a very good teacher - I appreciate your lessons very much!
REALLY LIKE YOUR LESSIONS .I’LL BE ON YOUR WEB SITE OFFEN
I do like all your lessons the BB King format in particular is very good
Thanks a lot
the vid was great can you tab out the guitar tabs
Brian- thank you! This is an excellent lesson. I am awestruck at how much music can come out of so few notes. As an aside, BB is going to be playing in my neck of the woods soon - can’t wait!!!
Where do I find the Tab for this?
matt d. says
Again. Amazing. Do I need to add Lucille to the collection? The Strat sounds good. Great lesson and have a great holiday!
I love creamy tone you are getting out of that Gibson in this video, it really helps to set up those BB like (wistful, laconic) riffs. To me this is part of this masters trademark sound, i.e. using the major scale in his blues repertoire.
Can I ask is it just simply the Gibbo into a clean amp or is there a smidgeon of distortion?
Yes that definitely helps to know the mix of those elements (overdrive, reverb and slap echo)since my setup is very different (Audio mixer - Logic Pro/Mac - headphones and I haven’t got a 335.
The best result I have got so far is with the bridge humbucker of a Mex Fat Strat, I can’t get a US SG std to sound right at all.
Are you are using the middle or bridge position on the pickup selector?
Hey Sysdevman - so I get a lot of questions about tone which makes me think I need to create a video (or series) just addressing tone. The basic sound that you’re hearing is a combination of those wonderful pickups in the ES335 and the effects that I am applying.
Essentially, I keep my guitar volume at around 7 or 8. I use a Line6 M-13 Stompbox for effects, but I’m not using anything unusual. On the M-13 I have a basic overdrive setting giving it some distortion (not a lot, but enough to give the tone some body), I’m also using a slap back delay to give it more of a vintage 50s sound.. any delay pedal will work, just make sure the timing of the delay is set to rapidly play after you strum - so you get more of an echo sound (also make sure this is subtle and doesn’t keep delaying, so set the delay feedback to a minimum), the only other effect is a basic spring reverb which is at about 40%.
I think the problem most people make with tone is that they use too much distortion, if you want that vintage blues sound, just a little bit of overdrive should give you what you want. And stay away from the real crunch / metal distortion stuff… nothing drives me crazy more than someone trying to play blues licks with a death metal sounding distortion… argghhh (fingers on a chalkboard for me).
Hope that helps man!
Where is the video for this lesson? It is not available. What do I need to do to get the video for the lesson?
Its right there on my page. Are you on the Active Melody site?
Great lesson again. But I’m a little confused. Around 8:15, you say that when you move down to the minor position at 8th and 10th frets, you say “you can only bend the E string (at 10th), not the B” then it looks to me like you proceed to bend on both of them and it it sounds OK. What am I missing?
good lesson, un régal je regarde et travaille tous les jours tes vidéos.
branded7 - here is a suggestion for using the overdrive. You need to have the guitar volume nearly full on in order to drive the pedal. Then, contol the final volume with the output level control on the pedal. Then you can control the amount of dirt with the guitars volume knob. If you put a weak siganl into the pedal, it will never do what it is designed to do. I bought and sold a number of pedals before I figured this out years ago. Hope this helps.
hi brian, great lesson. your guitar tone sounds awesome! i’ve tried my best and just cannot get that tone. i have an epiphone dot, a blues jr amp, and i also have a boss blues driver that i don’t use. i understand that all guitars and amps sound differently but, can you give me any suggestions at all that might get me close to your tone? i’m really getting tired of hearing “you just have to play around with it”. thanks in advance and keep up the good work.
Thanks Tommc - well said. Just make sure that you have a little bit of overdrive in the amp (not the death metal setting.. but you know what I mean) - just a little dirty. Then back your guitar volume off just a bit (so that it’s not at 100%) - you can increase it to 100% if you really want it flat out.. but I usually never let mine go all the way up. I like a fair amount of bass in my tone too - so I usually up the bass in the amp and back off treble and mid. - Hope that helps!
Just wanted to give a shout out for all to know that you are right as rain as to BB King and his ‘Home Base’ A note on the 10th fret of B string.
I caught a YouTtube Video this morning of BB and Clapton doing a duet at the White House in ‘99 of the Thrill Is Gone (easy to find by a search). And during it what happens - BINGO - BB goes right to his Home Base, that 10th fret A note. I had to smile when I saw that.
So thanks (again) for all the great lessons and info and keep ‘em coming.
The basic building blocks for the active muscian is to understand the how it gets put together. With the knowledge of keys and major ande minor chord as well as scale modes we all have the immediate ability to discover the blue priint for a solo. The creature of these skills come to learning the combination/interval (right phrasing) and the motif or the why a particular progression achieves the placement in the song or instrumental. There is a part of me that says 1 year or 2 year musical students have the knowledge to achieve key chord progression easily. The multitude of note groupings is ultimately the greatest skill achievement in either building music or transcribing it. So the point of this statement is the hidden element is a formula to decipher why note choices are made is the greatest transfer from one musician to another. LIfe time experience makes it easy to deal with music. Is there a program or lesson that simplifies the why phrasing is done in a certain way. BLues, JAzz, country, rock all have formulas but individual formula deciphering is the most wonderful of all taught lessons
What gauge strings do you use on your Gibson 335 ? I am looking at getting one. Checked one out today but the action was quite high and the strings sound distorted and out of tune. Am I pressing down to hhard on the strings ??
@Telemaster - I use Elixer strings on the 335. I can’t imagine a new one w/ bad action? Maybe it was just out of tune?
hey brian, do you have a tab for this?
do you have a tab for this brian please?
Unfortunately no tab for this one. I didn’t want you to think of it that way (regarding learning this) - instead focus on creating a solo using the box demonstrated.
Am I right that the two pentatonic scales you play in this BB King video are the are the D major (at frets 10 and 12) and the A minor ( at frets 8 and 10). Thanks in advance.
@Jack1 - This is the A major scale - Pattern 2 - I go back and forth between A Major and at one point A Minor
I’m a little confused. The BB King major pentatonic box that you talk about has the F#, A, B, D and E notes. Isn’t the D note part of the A minor pentatonic scale. Wouldn’t you slide down half a step and use the C# note which is the major third of the A scale. I do like the sound of using the fourth (D) within that box because it covers the change to the IV in the progression.
carls, I’ve been tossing that around a bit myself.
The conclusion to which I’ve come is that it is the A major scale - ionian(A, B, C#, D, E, F#, G#)…
and not the A Minor Blues (A, C, D, Eb, E, G)…
or A Major (which is the same as the F# Minor Blues) (A, B, C, C#, E, F#).
I hope I’m right…because I’m getting pretty confused.
The last one was intended to be A Major Blues.
would love to get the jam track but i dont have any money as im 15 lol
Ferganzo, I think your right. I think he just misspoke when he said major pentatonic scale. The Ionian scale would contain all the notes necessary. Great lesson though, I’ll use that box and the C# with it. In fact I need to start looking at all the notes available, and not just a “scale” per say.
what is the chords?
stevie P says
Hi Brian,I’ve followed you’re free lessons for some time now. However Ive decided to try the full site for a month first at least…
The lessons so far are excellent,you have a great knack for simplifying a lot of normally hard to understand guitar theory,
This B B King lesson has already given me a lot to go on and use in my attempts at improvisation.
As far as the question you pose in your write up for this lesson regarding what sort of lessons suit best..for me personally I get more out of the ( in the style of ) lessons,as like I said earlier I’m more into improv. The whole replicating someone’s entire solo leaves me cold I just can’t see the point. Learning parts from a solo to use in you’re own style yes but not the whole thing,I’d rather learn that persons style and blend it with my own..But that’s just me,thanks, Steve.
is there tab for this lesson?
scrap that just read there is no tab sorry i am a noob here
Great stuff as always. Just a quick question, when I look up the positions for the A Major pentatonic it has fingering on the top e string as 9 - 12 whereas you have it as 10 - 12. Is there an easy explanation?
Dr D says
This is a deeply satisfying lesson. I’m willing to do all of the memorization but I have been suspecting deep down in my heart that a lot of blues players have a simpler plan of action that allows them to improvise. This looks like a taste of it. Thank you for posting this. I have two questions: One: Are there different “boxes” associated with specific players? If so, what is Duane Allman’s box? Or Peter Green’s? Or Eric Clapton’s? Two: Did you ever make an instructional video on developing vibrato as you suggested that you might in this video? I’d like some help with that. (BTW, I’m relieved to hear that it took you an entire Summer’s work to achieve yours). I understand that there are several different approaches (back and forth vs. up and down for one) to vibrato. I am interested in learning about these. I would like to move my wrist like B.B. did but my guitar neck seems to be in the way. How did he do that?
Yes- I would love to see more of these lessons in which you show soloing strategies as opposed to complete solos that need to be memorized.
The fretboard can be overwhelming when you look at it in its entirely – so when you can break it down into small and manageable areas it helps a lot.
Lessons like this one covering other artists will be very welcome. Thank you.
john l says
wow – kind of a gap in the posts…but I’ll throw this in anyway. I like this one – a lot. I’ve been a little frustrated in feeling I have to hit every note perfectly and also asking myself how am I’m going to learn all these licks in the correct order, etc. I immediately felt more comfortable with a ‘range’ and and I feel some pressure going away. I realize the need to memorize – but still home more at ease with a fairly simple pattern and let me work on that. just saying…
Kejia Z says
thank for that
Mike Stengele M says
Awesome lesson here.
I have wasted lots of money on other music lessons on the internet and your lessons blow them out of the water.
Thanks for all you do.
Robert G says
Good programs. Glade I joined.
Brian, I would be thankful if you would send me Lesson LEG012, Scale “A”, with the cords that you play in between note changes. Also, send the information to my email home address. If a payment is needed, hit my account for it.
Thank you in advance.