#1 How To Play Blues Guitar | Video

Blues Guitar Lesson - BB King - Blues - Beginner Blues Lead

Hey everybody, what's up? Neil Walter here for the Guitar Tricks Channel coming your way. Catch us on guitartricks.com/channel and get two free lessons to your inbox every week, if you are not watching this on Guitar Tricks.

On our Tip of the Week, record yourself. Yes, you'd be amazed at how far you progress if you are practicing. Record yourself now and then listen back in a few months, compare to where you are then, also in a year you'd be surprised how much progress you make. Also the tape doesn't lie so it will tell you how you really sound because it's easy to get caught up in jamming at home or playing with a song which kind of masks your mistakes or playing with a lot of effects, which does the same. So if you record yourself you really hear how it sounds and that will help you improve.

On to our Lesson of the Week: I got a really killer soulful blues lick for you that you can use as a beginner to intermediate guitar player at a jam, blues jam and make you sound really smoking just using these two parts of these licks right here. And there is a lot of cool things within these licks that I'm going to teach you in this lesson so let's get on with that.

So the key is in G minor and I'll be playing in the eighth position and then also in the 11th position. I'll be using bits of two scale patterns from the minor blues pentatonic scale and the lick goes something like this.

So what we have going on here is a call and answer thing which is a really old technique for blues which has lent itself to country and rock as well. So the call -- the first part is -- then the answer to that which has a resolution to the end is and it ends on the G which is the tonic of the scale which gives you that nice resolution. You can do a couple of little variations of these licks too to change them up if you are using them repetitively so they sound slightly different because most blues is classic licks that are just changed a little bit in this way or that way. And the thing I always preach is that the real key to great sounding blues licks is in your vibrato and there is another key thing that I'm going to teach you in a minute. But for right now we're starting with a bend at the 11th fret of the B string and I'm using three fingers here to back it up because it's kind of a hard bend. I've got tension on these strings so it's a little bit of a struggle. We're aiming for this note but we don't want to quite get there and that's what gives it that blues sound, kind of that tension, that anticipation. Bending up to it.

So when I bend up, when I get to the top of the note, I kind of stop it, dampen it with my right hand a little bit and then land on the 11th fret, add a little vibrato and then drop down to the G, those two notes. Little vibrato there, little more aggressive and then that's a bend up, about halfway to the C note here and then a stop, dampening with my right hand.
That's the first part of the lick, the call. Here's the answer: up to the 13th fret will be playing out of this pattern. Actually a good way to think about it is that mechanically these two parts of the lick are almost the same so there's not much difference there, makes it easier to do the other lick. So the second half, the answer, goes a little something like this. So that's another similar bend up it's the minor third of the G, gives it that nice bluesy sound.

Now here is the other important thing that I said I was going to teach you. When thinking about blues phrasing of playing any kind of lead in general, the best blues lead sounds from the old blues guys, they were imitating what the vocalist was doing. So there's this real soulful, melodic kind of singing quality going on to blues leads and that's what's going on here. So when you are learning to play lead, especially blues and rock and country, one thing to remember is that it's not just about these scales or these notes because I get a lot of questions that "Hey. I've learned these scales, I don't know what to do now, I'm kind of stuck. I've learned these lead patterns, now what? You know, my leads all sound the same". So when you are thinking about what notes you're going to choose you also want to think about the overall phrasing of these little sections. Like I have a call and I have an answer. And if you think about it in a vocal sense, you have real vocal, melodic sounding thing. So when you are picking notes, keep that in mind, and also here . I heard Santana say that when he is playing leads, he is thinking about talking with his guitar. So if you are stuck with leads and scales, think about it in a vocal sense where your notes are singing or your notes are talking and you might be the only one who knows this is going on as you pick your notes but you'll definitely hear a difference. And if you use the Tip of the Week and record yourself, try recording one of your favorite licks regular and then think about it in a singing sense and see if you hear the difference.

So along those lines, a couple of differences you can use to make this sound cool is the second time you play these two licks, when you go back to the first lick instead of bending here, bend here. What that does is it picks up the major sound of the four chord which is going on when it goes to the C so that will give it a little extra flair and then following that when you go up to the second part of the lick I was playing it like this. Instead, you can go like this, change a couple of notes so go  instead of. And those slight changes are just like slight little vocal variations and people notice that there's something different going on and that's where your subtlety, your finesse comes in in your guitar playing.

So the turnaround lick, when it goes to the five chord in the progression, bend up to the 13th fret a whole step, put your pinky down on the E string. So that's a release bend, pull up, vibrato and then that bend up and stop again [plays guitar]. Has kind of that vocal quality [sings]  that rounds out your lick. Now let's play along to the backing track to hear how it really sounds with the full band. Remember, your first note comes on the two beat, so you are going to hear the count off: one, two, three, four “Bam”, that's when you come in.

So remember, get vocal with your guitar phrasing, think about the human vocal sound as you are selecting your notes, it will really help you along. Remember the killer vibrato, really sounds bluesy.
Thanks for tuning in on this weekend. Leave me requests, tune on in facebook and twitter, youtube and Guitar Tricks forum and leave me a request because I want to know what you want to know, it's what keeps me going. Have a rocking week, later.