Today’s blog is a little different than what we normally do. We wanted to show you an example of Joe using the BB King box in one of his own tunes. Below is the song so you can give it a listen. The solo is about a third of the way in.
Joe is using BB’s box in the key of G. Notice how he stays primarily in the box, however at one point he hops up and hits G on the 15th fret of the high E string. After that, he finishes the solo with the G minor blues scale. Notice how that changes the color and darkens up the end of the solo. Enjoy!
Today we will go over the intro lick (:28 in) to the opening tune of BB King’s iconic album Live at the Regal, “Every Day I Have the Blues”. First off, I should mention this is probably my (Brendan) favorite blues album. I can listen to this over and over, and this lick is vintage BB. It is simple, yet elegant, and really captures the mood.
We will do something a little different with the video, Joe is going to play both BB’s intro, and a variation multiple times. Notice that each one is just a little bit different. It is subtle differences between each lick that make the blues sound, for lack of a better word, bluesy. You’ll notice that BB does a very quick slide. In fact, I thought it was a bend at first until I really listened to it. Try each way, really absorb the idea, and implement it in as many ways as you can think of. This lick is simple, yet immediately recognizable. How many guitarists can you hear play such a short phrase and immediately say, “That’s BB”?
Here is the tab
Here is the video
Enjoy! Next week, Joe will show you a solo he used in one of his own tunes that was heavily influenced by BB. After that, the intro to Thrill is Gone
If you want to learn how to play like BB King, there are a few things you need to master. Last week, Joe mentioned vibrato and today we will talk about his box. If you play this over a blues tune, it is impossible to get away from sounding a little like BB. The scale is a very distinct part of his sound and style. The lick we will do next week (the opening of Everyday I Have The Blues), will come straight out of this first exercise.
We are going to focus on the top three strings as they will be the most useful. Later on we can expand outside of those. The scale is similar to a major pentatonic, but it is slightly different. You will be playing the 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th, and 6th of the major scale.
To begin, we will just use three notes. The 6, the root (the red dot), and the 2. In my opinion, this is the core of the box. When you get to the 2, the highest of the three notes, bend it up a whole step, to the 3rd.
Now, add the notes on the first string.
Once you’ve played around with it, play over a backing track. The way to figure out what key you were in is where the red dot falls. Below is a chart with all of the notes on the second string. A is the 10th fret, E is the 5th fret, etc.
That is a good place to start. If you’re feeling adventurous, add this note (blue/teal color) when you land on the four chord. It will sound nice and bluesy. You can also bend to that note instead of fretting it.