Take a closer look at some of the signature techniques of the late blues master.
• Learn how to use the “B.B. King” box to improvise over chord changes.
• Create rhythmic motifs that work in blues progressions.
• Understand how to target chord tones.
In light of the recent passing of the great B.B. King, we thought it only right to pay tribute to such a monumental figure in the blues scene—a King by name, but even more by legacy.
We’ve got two things to look at here: the track we’re playing over and the solo itself. It’s no secret that B.B. (whose given name was Riley B. King) wasn’t one for rhythm guitar. One of the funniest B.B. moments I’ve seen was some footage of him rehearsing with U2. While showing them the chords to “When Love Comes to Town,” B.B. stopped them and simply said, “I’m no good with chords, so what we do is get somebody else to play chords. I’m horrible with chords.”
This lesson draws influence from “Riding with the King,” the classic John Hiatt tune that B.B. and Eric Clapton recorded on their duo album of the same name. It’s a wonderful study of a non-traditional blues progression that strays away from the typical I–IV–V. Ex. 1 shows how to play the rhythm track we’ll use as the basis for our solo.
After a simple open-string riff in A, the whole thing moves up to B7 (which is the I chord) before moving down to E (the IV). Things really take a twist when it goes to G (the bVI), then the E again, back to G, and finally to A7 (the bVII). From a theoretical perspective, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but the reality is that it sounds good ... and the golden rule is that if it sounds good, it is good!
Obviously, learning about B.B. is going to be all about learning how he made his fills and solos sound so sweet, yet full of soul. B.B. oozed genuine blues from his very core. Possibly the best proponent of the “less is more” approach, B.B. would milk as much music as humanly possible from just a few patterns on the guitar. And he did it with impeccable timing, inventive use of space, sublime bends, and that instantly recognizable vibrato.
Much of our solo will be played in what many have called the “B.B. Box.” If you aren’t familiar with it, check out “Deep Blues: The ‘B.B. King’ Box.” I describe it to my students as the shape that hits the root note on the 2nd string. This is a fantastic shape that expertly blends the best bits of the major and minor pentatonic scales. With careful bending, it lets you pretty easily cover each chord in a blues progression.
Our solo (Ex. 2) starts with some chord tones that outline the changes. People might think that B.B. was a man of little theoretical knowledge, but I remember watching a video of B.B. referring to the I and V chords while playing over a blues in G. He definitely knows what he likes to hear and why it works.
When the solo kicks in on the B7 chord, we’re milking the B.B. box with some nice vibrato and a bend up to the 3 of the chord. We then move up the neck for a nice bending lick—almost like a call-and-response phrase. This idea continues with another lick that moves between the B.B. box and the next form of the B minor pentatonic (B-D-E-F#-A) scale. Next is the classic B.B. idea of hitting the root an octave higher and sliding down.
We take a minimalist approach over the G and E chords and squeeze everything we can with some simple bends and well-timed phrasing. The beauty here is that it’s not a carbon-copy repetition each time, but rather the rhythm is offset a little bit. It’s not similar enough to feel boring, but not so different that you feel that you’re being overloaded with ideas. The “fastest” phrase in the whole solo is next and it’s nothing more than four descending notes. B.B. wasn’t about speed. Every phrase said something; every phrase was honest and not about showing you how much he knew or how good he was.
To move back to the B7 chord, we have a simple “B.B.-ism” that uses the minor 3 and major 3 before hitting a sweet little triad arpeggio idea to outline the chord, and, of course, that classic high note to wrap things up. All very simple, but difficult to master.
Finally, we have a backing track that lasts for two choruses to allow you to try some of your own ideas over the progression. This one is really a lot of fun. Just don’t over-think it—try the B minor pentatonic and the B.B. box and see what you can come up with. Close your eyes and let the music flow. Now go ride with the King.
The world will miss him.
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Looking for a compact, “noiseless” way to plug in and play guitar? Check out the brand-new Gibson Digital Amp, available only in the Gibson App.
The new Gibson App simplifies the learning process and brings guitar playing to life for the current and next generation of guitarists in a modern, comprehensive, and intuitive way. The Gibson App is the place to take your guitar playing to the next level. New to the Gibson App is the Gibson Digital Amp, the ultimate starting amplifier for beginners and a flexible amp on-the-go for intermediate players and pros to get their sound anywhere. The Gibson Digital Amp is an accessible amplifier for both acoustic and electric guitars, and is currently available for Apple/iOS users--an Android version will debut next year.
Use the Gibson Digital Amp’s jamming guide to get started and transform your sound with built-in effects and pedals, jam to backing tracks, or use it in lessons and songs. The Gibson Digital Amp only requires your phone, and wired headphones for the best playing experience, no cables are needed. The amp features 3 acoustic mic presets, 4 electric amp presets, and 6 effects pedals.
The Gibson Digital Amp is the ultimate starting amplifier for beginners and a flexible amp on-the-go for intermediates and pros.
The Gibson App uses a unique two-way, interactive platform to teach guitar students how to do everything from playing their first note to shredding loads of songs. The Gibson App features interactive lessons with thousands of lessons and songs. Learn the songs step-by-step with video tutorials from superstar artists and pro guitarists in the “Gibson App Guide.” The Gibson App also includes the new Digital Amp, a built-in tuner, a metronome, Gibson TV, and new songs are added every week. New Gibson App Guides are added regularly and include Tommy “Spaceman” Thayer’s favorite iconic KISS guitar solos, Richie Faulkner’s (Judas Priest) “Guide to Metal,” Jared James Nichols’ “Guide to Blues,” CELISSE’s “Guide to Songwriting,” and more.
The Gibson App uses “audio augmented reality” to provide dynamic feedback to students as they learn and play. As you pluck a note or strum a chord, the Gibson App listens to your guitar and gives you real-time feedback on your playing. It also gives students a more contextual learning experience: Instead of learning chords and scales in a vacuum, you’re able to practice on a scrolling tablature that lets you hear how you sound with the backing of a virtual band. That means you can load up “Hurt” by Johnny Cash, “Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison, “American Girl" by Tom Petty, “Nothing Else Matters” by Metallica, “Where is My Mind" by Pixies, “Country Roads” by John Denver, “I Hate Myself For Loving You" by Joan Jett, “Heaven” by Kane Brown, “Shape Of You” by Ed Sheeran, “Killer Queen” by Queen,“ Sweet Child O’ Mine,” by Guns ‘N Roses, “Run to the Hills” by Iron Maiden, “Roxanne” by The Police, and “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and “The Man Who Sold the World” by Nirvana, “Are You Gonna Go My Way” by Lenny Kravitz, and “Don't Look Back In Anger” by Oasis and hundreds more songs in a wide range of genres, to see how your play matches up with such seminal tracks.
As you’re playing, the Gibson App gives you feedback on timing and tone, ensuring that students are getting active input on how their play is developing. The Gibson App appeals to players of all levels, it’s not just for beginners looking to learn a few chords; the app can assist seasoned guitarists who are working their way through difficult riffs, want to learn their favorite songs, or polish their advanced techniques.
Players can also challenge themselves by speeding up or slowing the tabs. Like having a full-time guitar teacher, the Gibson App keeps track of all your progress and adjusts lesson plans accordingly. The Gibson App released a “backing track mode” which supports both lesson and song playback without headphones, so users can self-select what works best for their current environment. And that’s not all: the Gibson App also packs in a fully-featured digital tuner for guitar first-timers, there’s even a detailed lesson on how to tune your instrument, a multi-function metronome, players can connect to free one-on-one consultations with Gibson’s Virtual Guitar Tech team, and to direct links to the Gibson, Epiphone, and Kramer online stores for easy shopping for guitars, gear, apparel, and accessories.
Learn Guitar With The Gibson App
The Gibson App is more than a pocket-sized guitar teacher, it’s loaded with an archive of exclusive content and original programming from its premium and accessible award-winning online network, Gibson TV, featuring music icons telling their best guitar stories, with more episodes and installments added regularly. Users can watch Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi share insights and tales from his decades-long career on the series “Icons,” dive into Joe Bonamassa’s assortment of legendary Les Paul guitars on “The Collection,” or see how Gibson’s iconic instruments are made in their Nashville factory from body to binding on “The Process.” There’s even a series called “The Scene” that focuses on backstage stories from hallowed music venues from coast to coast like The Troubadour and Grand Ole Opry.
The Gibson App free version features a few lessons a day; the premium version of the Gibson App offers full access and a 14-day free trial, then costs $19.99/£16.49 monthly or $119.99/£98.99 yearly.
For more information, please visit gibson.com.
This pickup captures the clear, bell-like single-coil chime of a classic P-90 when played clean and retains the tight mids and articulate low-end vintage growl and smooth sustain saturation when pushed into overdrive.
Belltone Guitars, as part of their Custom-Select System curated offering of pickups, has partnered McNelly pickups to create a one-of-a-kind retro-vibe P-90 pickup in the standard Filtertron size format. This pickup captures the clear, bell-like single-coil chime of a classic P-90 when played clean and retains the tight mids and articulate low-end vintage growl, and smooth sustain saturation when pushed into overdrive.
The McNelly P-90 Foil-Coil comes housed in a ‘raw’ nickel outer casing with a dull nickel foil face with metal mount screw gromets to complete the ‘new-vintage’ aesthetic, making it a perfect choice for your signature Belltone custom build. Available exclusively through Belltone Guitars.
Check out the Custom-Select System belltoneguitars.com to preview the McNelly P-90 Foil-Trons and all our standard and selectable components available to create your own signature Belltone. Then visit the Dream Lab on our website and select either model B-Classic ONE with its top binding or B-Classic TWO with its arm and body contours select your body color from our wide range of offerings, select your neck profile of either standard ‘C’ or thicker ’59 Round Back and either Maple or Rosewood fingerboard followed by your tuners, pickguard, and strings. Finally, review our curated custom-designed, and unique pickup selection to locate the McNelly P-90 Foil-Trons to complete your signature build.
Builds start at just over $2,300.00 with a custom case and shipping included.
For more information, please visit belltoneguitars.com.
McNelly P 90 Foil Tron video Sep27
DiMarzio, Inc. announces the Relentless P (DP299), the Relentless J Bridge (DP301), Relentless J Neck (DP300), and the Relentless J Pair (DP302) for 4 string basses.
DiMarzio, Inc. announces the release of the Relentless P (DP299), the Relentless J Bridge (DP301), Relentless J Neck (DP300), and the Relentless J Pair (DP302) for 4 string basses. The new Relentless P and Relentless J series pickups feature the Relentless cover designed in collaboration with Billy Sheehan.
As with the Relentless pickups, we removed all the hard edges from the standard P Bass and standard J Basspickups, and added an arch to the top of the pickups to bring the sensing coils and pole pieces closer to the strings. These improvements increase the dynamic range and make active circuitry unnecessary.
The Relentless P and Relentless J pickups incorporate Neodymium magnets and produce 70 percent more output than traditional passive pickups, and they’re dead quiet due to the incorporation of metal covers and foil-shielded cables. To dial in (or fine-tune) the individual string output, the Relentless P and Relentless J include eight adjustable pole pieces. These pickups also have a broad magnetic field so you can even bend notes without volume dropout.
DiMarzio’s extra shielding makes the Relentless P and Relentless J better for both recording and stage performances. We’ve mounted them onto robust .09375” thick circuit board base plates to eliminate the annoying protruding mounting screws — ultimately creating a more comfortable and consistent foundation to rest your fingers on.
The new Relentless P steps beyond the traditional P-Bass sound and can only be described as massive. It has more of everything: more volume, beefier lows, a growling midrange, and crispy highs with better individual string definition.
The Relentless J incorporates a new invention, (patent pending) parallelogram-shaped coils, offering an expanded mid-range punch, snappy highs, precise lows, and a new dimension to the sound of the Relentless series pickups.
Relentless P and Relentless J pickups will breathe new life into any bass, increase playability, and work well for any style of music from Motown to metal.
DiMarzio’s Relentless P, Relentless J Bridge, Relentless J Neck, and Relentless J pair are made in the U.S.A. and may now be ordered for immediate delivery.
Suggested List Price for the Relentless P is $169.00 (MAP $119.99).
Suggested List Price for the Relentless J Bridge and Relentless J neck is $155.00 (MAP $109.99).
Suggested List Price for the Relentless J Pair is $296.00 (MAP 209.99).
For more information, please visit our website at dimarzio.com.