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Blues Improvisation
Blues Improv

Blues For Peace

B.B. King


B.B. King appeared on PBS TV in 1968, holding his trademark Gibson ES 355 - Lucille, hair slicked back, sweating profusely, singing and playin the blues. As a kid I remember people talking about B.B. King. They said, "Well you know, B.B. King, he's not really a good guitar player, all he can play is the blues." Twenty, thirty years later, I'm still trying to learn to play blues guitar like B.B. King!

B.B. King was the featured guest artist and spoke to the interviewer with a guarded tone to his voice and in humble way. The contrast between B.B. King's soft spoken words and wailin' guitar made a deep impression on me. I remember trying to catch the beat and couldn't because most of B.B. King's guitar licks started off the beat. Off the beat? Now there's a concept I'd never encountered as a fifteen year old guitar player.

It was also the first time I heard anyone bend guitar strings... and what B.B. King called "those funny little sounds that please me" - sounded out of tune to me! Yet something caught my ear and I was determined to try and figure out the secret to play like B.B. King. And twenty, ok, thirty years later, I'm still trying to figure out how to play the blues guitar like B.B. King!

B.B. King projects tremendous presence on the stage singing, playing guitar or just standing around. His style, developed in the Big Band Era, is similar to T-Bone Walker, playing off the riffs of the horn section versus blowing over the top. Many of B.B. King's licks come out of nowhere at the end of the horn parts. Other times you can hear B.B. 'comping' simple licks to the groove of the horn section.

Talk about the pentatonic scale, the blues scale ... forget it. Talk about the BB King Scale ... B.B. King just plays what he hears and often plays major thirds & major sevenths as well as wierd bends (flat 2nd up to minor third) that can't be taught.

Another unique aspect to B.B. King 's guitar style is his vibrato and the way he mixes phrases that start on the beat with licks that start off the beat. There are few guitar players that do this today ... just listen to a few BB King solos, count out the rhythm and see for yourself.

Sound wise, B.B. King's guitar is usually in the mix, not blowing out the band. Many of B.B. King's best records like crackle a soulful mix of B.B.'s vocals, blues guitar licks and audience reaction. I don't know about you, but I'v got a strong urge to hear a BB King CD!

By Johnny Mayer.

B.B. King Guitar TAB

Here are some cool books with B.B. King guitar tab. It's amazing when you actually get a few B.B. Kings licks under your fingers. It's best to learn to play by ear and these B.B. King guitar tablature books will help you play the blues from the heart - just like BB King.
387,000 sheet music titles - Shop Now!
B.B. King, Eric Clapton: Riding with the King - sheet music at B.B. King, Eric Clapton: ...
B.B. King: B.B. King - The Definitive Collection - sheet music at B.B. King: B.B. King - Th...
B.B. King: B.B. King Anthology - sheet music at B.B. King: B.B. King Anth...
B.B. King - sheet music at B.B. King
Blues Masters Complete Cd Included - sheet music at Blues Masters Complete Cd...
B.B. King: Anthology - sheet music at B.B. King: Anthology


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B.B. King Lyrics

Ask Me No Questions
Don't Answer the Door
Every Day I Have the Blues
Gamblers Blues
Help The Poor
How Blue Can You Get
Got Some Outside Help I Don't..
I'm Gonna Do What They..
It's Mt Own Fault
Let The Good Times Roll
Little By Little
Night Life
Playing With My Friends
Sweet Little Angel
Sweet Sixteen
Three O'Clock Blues
Tired of Your Jive
Worry Worry
You Done Lost Your Good Thing..
You Upset Me