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BB King Blues Licks

BB King Blues Licks

Blues Backing

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).

BB King Blues Licks. 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! For those who are wanting to get more into character a bit more can focus on their vibrato; BB used a very shallow and a very fast movement which became his staple.

You’re second 3 licks come from the bag of Mr Eric Clapton. 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. Break each lick down once again into sections and make sure each one flows properly; these ones are based in the minor pentatonic territory and involve some tone bends. Concentrate on getting enough strength behind them in order to execute them effectively.

The final 3 licks in the segment are from the mighty blues/rock god Billy F. Gibbons! (COMING IN THE NEXT ISSUE). Reverend Billy was the one who really started the movement that was to become classic rock and because of this I’ve leant toward some of his more trademark techniques. We are utilising pinched harmonics here and some slides INTO bends but have no fear because the accompanying video will help you to see these things in action. Gibbons also has a deft touch and is another user of the fast and shallow vibrato.

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,


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