What we should learn from B.B. King – 'The King Of Blues'

four notes that's all BB King needs to keep your attention you can do so much with just four notes no wonder is called the king of Blues in this video I've tried to find out why he got that name and how we guitarists from later generation can still learned so much from the man had already inspired legions before us chapter one no choices you may have heard from it the BB King Box a group of note that supposedly can make you sound like BB King the second but is that so before we take a look at the notes we're playing we actually has to take a look at the songs in which he's using those notes okay great so there's two easily distinguishable tests of Blues the major with the dominant sounding chords underneath whereas the minor blues start with a minor chord and of course BB King treats them differently mostly let's start with the major blues and now it's probably the best time to start talking about it the BB King box it fits beautifully over the dominant seventh chord of the blues and the brilliant thing about BB King box is that you can play it over all the three chords in a typical twelve bar blues and it will get the job done oh by the way all the examples I'm showing you are in the key of B because b being the BB King box hop to fret 12 on the B string which is the root notes the note it all revolves around so the BB king box is based on the 1 the 2 flat 3 the 4 the 5 and the 6 usually the six displayed one octave lower fret 13 on the g-string starting on that notes 39 G 12 14 15 on the B 12 and 14 and ie and you can also add 11 on the g-string so this isn't the skill use in western music that's why it's easy to refer to it as the BB King box so these notes work beautifully because of these two notes over here for 14 and 15 the two and flat three these notes can adapt themselves to the courts were playing over by a medical thing wicket always like to call bending so if it's still one chord you can bend fit 14 a whole step up and now we reach the major tonality of the one chord so the major third if you prefer the minor sound or if you're at the four chord you can bend it a semitone or play fat 50 and if you're at the five chord you don't bend that all so it's a brilliant set of notes that accommodate the Blues perfectly and that is a big reason why BB king likes his box so much but yes there is a but when you look at the minor blues the BB King box is pretty difficult to handle correctly and this is because this little note over here the major six interval if you listen to be became play he basically never uses the BB King box on the minor blues it's just that it doesn't really work and there are better alternatives that will sound way better a good choice for example would be bucks two of the minor pentatonic scale and that is a box BB King uses a lot and this is how it sounds okay but now we're just playing a minor skill over a minor blues and it sounds good that's pretty logical right yes but let me finish I analyzed over 15 of his most famous songs and I came to the conclusion that he uses bucks two of the minor plants on the scale in more songs than the actual BB King bucks so now I'm not just talking about the minor blues no he also uses that box over the major blues have a listen that sounds lovely to write and still a very BB King so the BB King box only gets used on the major blues well the minor pentatonic box to fits both major and minor so now we know that let's dive a bit deeper in this actual playing chapter two a few notes to tell the story one thing that's really remarkable about his playing is that he can captivate a listener with the use of just a few notes in a song to know you is to love you at around the two minutes forty mark two jumps to this crazy soda where's mainly using four notes without getting boring or monotonous a perfect showcase of how you can tell a story take the listener with you without getting lost in an endless slur of notes without a clear destination no he he makes pretty sure we all know where he's going and it's a pretty cool place so the four main notes he uses are the top four of bucks two of the my pants on a scale from the root notes up so B d e f sharp and he uses these four notes to create short legs that have an identity on its own some sentences are short other are a bit longer and take awhile to get to the point and this way it's less for stable so shortly could be longer Li it could be and then there's a repetition by repeating you're letting the listener getting emotionally attached to the sound it gives you something to recognize you can give it a place value and changing it just slightly the second or third time you can keep a listener on their toes for example and I found three signature licks that over here repeatedly in his improvising so the first one is for example from the throw is gone and it basically starts on the fifth and we just play a minor pentatonic scale up and then we do a bend on the highest note so fat12 on the E string it would pull off to the third for 10 in this case and then get back to the roots so next liquor uses a lot it sounds just awesome beautiful it's what I call the double band lick hurry targets different notes right after each other with two different bands so this could be bending from the same note from the same fret or bending from two knows a fret apart I'm bending from fret 15 on the b string from the minor 3rd to the 4th then I go one semitone down to fret 14 bending a whole step to the major 3rd and then going back to the root so that's with one semitone apart but you can also start on the same note let's start on fret 14 do it as an example so Sarna frets 14 so the first one is higher the third signature BB king lake is where you read targets the root note and this is usually played in the BB King box constantly resolving to that root notes with quick little free of frivolous embellishments ok so this is how it sounds etc etc just targeting that be constantly getting back to that notes killer so now without lakes and what notes he likes to use on what occasions in what order but to get to the core of his plane we need to look at his articulation and its actual phrasing the way he pronounces the way it translates his feeling into these wonderful concise phrases but what exactly is phrasing it's a bit vague but to most people phrasing is the way the player dies smaller sections together that fit together as a whole like when you're speaking the sentences you're saying are just a smaller part of a bigger story B became dust is like no other playing as if he's singing taking the time to breathe or adding a pause to put more emphasis on the matter listen to any of his solos and you vary that there's never an endless run of notes but always a conversation happening its next phrase is either a response an explanation or an elaboration of some kind it always makes sense so you can do this by taking elements from the first phrase and put them in the second to link them together this can be a rhythmic element so you're playing the same rhythmic patterns different licks or you can do this by highlighting certain notes so constantly hitting that high be no to link up together it can be a call and a response sort of thing sort of question-and-answer thing or just a simple thing that feels right to you because you're the player so as long as it makes sense to you I think you're fine so some things to consider is that you have to pay attention to the place in the bar where you play the lick one two three so now I was playing each leg on beat four second X are dead beat fourth third leeks are in it before so rhythmically it makes sense so another very important thing its articulation and by this I mean the way he plays certain notes the Qataris eminently suitable to use a whole myriad of expressions so that let's just start with the most obvious one which is vibrato BB King uses a very characteristic sounding vibrato it's usually pretty fast and lively just shake your whole hand and do it pretty quickly next up there's bending of course I think this redefines BB king his bending briefly touched in chapter 2 in the second signature lick he's been really grab you by the throat in a good way so he can do so much with just one fret some great notes who Bend are the second the minor 3 to this one and the fourth as well so these are all great notes to bend and a special thing about it you can then it a semitone or a whole tone so let me give you some examples you can do with bending start on a two first a whole time dance sounding very major I'll do it the semi tone beds sound very minor okay now move on to the third the minor third you can bend it up a whole ton reaching a four and then a semitone reaching a major third now we can go to the fourth bend it a whole tone up to the fifth if you've entered a semitone up you reach two sharp four flat five the notes from the pentatonic blue scale that sounds great as well so with that for you can play the fifth the sharp four and a four so with bending and just to one the to the fret flat three and a four you can basically play any notes you want and then you can sit somewhere in between as well and to give it some dirty intonation so just bend it slightly it sounds great oh and one other thing I've learned is that I really suck at bending with my first finger and hang it especially in box two from the pentatonic scale he usually bends the minor third all the way up to the fourth and that really hurts my necks here okay well something to practice so moving on to dynamics he really knows on which notes to put a lot of weight and which notes are there to serve he does it beautifully by emphasizing the strong notes by playing them a little bit louder or with more attack and with more dedication than the filler notes his phrases live just like when you're speaking some words are pronounced little louder than others putting emphasis on the wrong notes sounds really weird and does not help getting the point across if you know what I mean it's all about putting the weight on the right notes on the right notes here's an example listening to is playing with even more attention to detail than usual gave me even more appreciation of this playing when you don't play too many notes it all comes down to the subtleties each note matters just listen to how much space be believes in it solos how much time it takes to get each phrase just right it sounds unhurried and uncomplicated but meanwhile it's an intricate play of timing tone feel articulation dynamics phrasing it's false all together beautifully as soon as picks up their guitar but let me also make a very important note all these things I talked about in this video all the little tricks little ideas they don't only make you a better player if you sit down put a guitar in your lap and just listen to him play play along with the chorus in the beginning to get the hang of the tune keep on listening and then when you're ready just learn from the recording that is the way to learn it not watch another guy talk about him know why not go to the master himself figure out the leagues try to play with him master is little nuances is phrasing notes the melodies and I'm sure they'll fall into place just take the time have a wonderful day everyone thank you for watching and please subscribe to my channel if you enjoyed this video click the thumbs up leave your comment below and share this with everyone you know thank you

28 thoughts on “What we should learn from B.B. King – 'The King Of Blues'”

  1. Thank you for another fantastic video! Phrasing like a conversation is So important. Took me awhile to grasp the concept of a run-on sentence and apply it to playing.

  2. "What kind of guitar do you want?"
    Whichever guitar Paul was playing in the most recent of his videos I watched.

  3. I'm not a guitarrist and I have never heard of the whole concept of boxes. This sounds like a good way to artificially limit the ammount of notes to choose from when just beginning – for any instrument.

  4. Why would the major 6th not work in the minor scale? In B Dorian the G# is in that scale and Dorian works with the blues. What am I missing? The whole major box is "B" Dorian

  5. Love your vid, Paul! You did great job!
    I wonder whether you could do an analysis of BB playin in song "Lucille".
    I'm always astonished by his abillity to manipulate the rhythm, his extraordinary syncopation and it would be awesome to see what's really there in an academic way.

  6. My favorite guitarist ever met BB in Toronto at masonic temple approx 45 years ago and he spoke with me for over 2 hours explaining why I probably could never sound exactly like him and I didn't understand at the time now I get it and he is of course correct way ahead of his time I cannot even play a single not as well as the greatest Blues man I just love the man a true gentleman generous and a mentor to all

  7. Ok BB King is really cool, but now that we master … HOW do you shave your beard so perfectly? it seems much more important than BB King no ?! 🙂 Thank you for your shares I go back to my guitar (beautiful LesPauls) after more than 15 years of rest and it feels good to the soul! 🙂

  8. I am so glad you refer to the notes and their numerical relation the Tonic.
    Not just the string and fret location.

    Thank YOU.

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