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Blues Licks: BB King

Hi all and welcome to my first bag of blues licks! I’d like to tentatively call this ‘Blues for the Common Man’ because, after all, blues is about interpretation as well as heart and soul.

What I’ve got here today is 6 licks over a 12 Bar Blues shuffle backing in the key of E. Each lick is designed to go over 2 chords of the progression (E & A) and then the turnaround (which starts from the B chord and descends).

The first 3 licks are in the style of BB King.

‘Blues Boy’ has a playing style all of his own and as you can hear, he loves to use the major pentatonic scale. The licks revolve mainly around one section of the fretboard and the focus is on breaking them into sections before putting them together – start slowly and build! Those who want to get into character a bit more can focus on their vibrato; BB used a very shallow and a very fast movement which became his staple.

Your second 3 licks come from the bag of Mr. Eric Clapton. (STAY TUNED! Complete With Backing Track)

I’ve gone for more of a classic Cream vibe with these ones to juxtapose them from the nice sounds of BB, so with that in mind, the focus is on aggression and boldness. 

My final note is that every lick here is an interpretation, so please feel free to adjust them or take what you want out of them in whatever way you see fit. Blues is a very personal expression when using the guitar so you should be actively seeking to use the 9 ideas as a launch pad for making your own voice and creating your own ideas.

I wish you all the best of luck in your beginnings of this blues quest and I hope to see you soon,


Sam Lay uses:
Fender Guitars & Cables
VHT/Blackstar Amplifiers

Sam Proudly Endorses:
Jim Dunlop USA Strings & Effects

BB King: Introduction

BB King: Lick 1

Teaching Video


bb king 1

BB King: Lick 2

Teaching Video


bb king 2

BB King: Lick 3

Teaching Video


bb king 3

Stay tuned for the next post where we continue with Sam’s bag of blues tricks with licks from Eric Clapton, plus a Backing Track video for both King and Clapton licks

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