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post #1 of 29 (permalink) Old 03-04-2015, 08:48 AM Thread Starter
 
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BB King box questions

I'm practicing a lot of blues right now, and BB king has always been my favorite blues guitarist (we also share the same birthday ). I know he has a style known as the BB King box, but I don't know what it takes to learn it, or how to go about learning how to use it. So here are my questions:

Going from a regular G-C-D 1-4-5 blues progression, how do I learn how to use this style correctly?

What are the major points of the BB King box? I.E. Andy Timmons did a recording for young guitar not too long ago where he described how he likes to start his riff on the 3rd degree of the scale (I.E. Key of D, he starts on F).

There's so much to this BB King box, but I don't know where to start or how to learn how to use it properly. I've checked some videos, and the best thing I could get from it was that you have to express yourself in a small box of notes, which is something I feel is necessary to me developing my "voice" in my guitar playing. Very simple idea, and very few notes and not a lot of moving around the fretboard, but very difficult to master.
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post #2 of 29 (permalink) Old 03-04-2015, 11:35 PM
 
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Re: BB King box questions

I think I know what you are getting at... Here's an interesting article I saw a while back about his style. I think he just uses a "box" or "pattern" based on the minor pentatonic blues scale.

http://www.premierguitar.com/article...he-bb-king-box

Just for fun, try jamming over a 12 bar blues in G... like the 1-4-5 progression you mentioned. Just use the G minor pentatonic scale notes, you can add the C# or "blue note" in there too... especially transitioning to the D chord on the "turnaround". Just focus on the note that corresponds to the chord and have fun... you'll have fun with it.

Here's a good one to play over:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MBQyjTkvzjc

Use these scales - especially position 1 and the g, b, and e strings in position 2 (where the BB box in the article is).

http://www.guitar-chords.org.uk/guit...luesscale.html

Hope this stuff helps... check out youtube videos on playing blues over a 1-4-5. Simple and fun and easy to get the hang of.

Last edited by FireEagle; 03-04-2015 at 11:44 PM.
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post #3 of 29 (permalink) Old 03-05-2015, 01:25 AM
 
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Re: BB King box questions

Google 4 note blues guitar solo.

The absolute limitations (4 notes) make a person have to get creative and it's helped me a ton. Many early guitarists (first few years or even first decade) learn a lot, too much maybe, and then get fast on the neck but the art of music goes out the window.

The 4 note thing keeps us all honest.
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post #4 of 29 (permalink) Old 03-05-2015, 08:26 AM Thread Starter
 
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Re: BB King box questions

@Blazer:

that's why I want to learn it. BB King is such an emotional guitarist and making sure I learn how to play slowly and honestly is one of my short term goals. It'll also keep me from overthinking my playing also.
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post #5 of 29 (permalink) Old 03-05-2015, 10:08 AM
 
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Re: BB King box questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by MatiasTolkki View Post
@Blazer:

that's why I want to learn it. BB King is such an emotional guitarist and making sure I learn how to play slowly and honestly is one of my short term goals. It'll also keep me from overthinking my playing also.
He really has it and at first I didn't get all that Clapton worship of him. The way Clapton (my hero) talked about BB King, it sounded as if BB King invented the guitar. Then I saw this and it blew me away (not only guitar but voice, too).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T1GLDGiLE4c

It's one of those things that when you see it, you never forget it. The first note from his guitar and voice surpassed anything I had heard in its simplicity and its power. When he sings the first phrase, "When love comes to town", listen to the emphasis on the word "town" and how he ends it and the inflection he puts into the last letter in its decay. That puts his whole style into a nutshell. Master that on guitar and you will have something many players cannot even approach. Eric Clapton admits that's still his goal. Anybody can start a phrase on vocals or guitar, but only a master like a BB King knows how to end it.

Also when he opens with his guitar playing, it's four amazing notes.
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post #6 of 29 (permalink) Old 03-05-2015, 10:15 AM Thread Starter
 
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Re: BB King box questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by 63Blazer View Post
He really has it and at first I didn't get all that Clapton worship of him. The way Clapton (my hero) talked about BB King, it sounded as if BB King invented the guitar. Then I saw this and it blew me away (not only guitar but voice, too).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T1GLDGiLE4c

It's one of those things that when you see it, you never forget it. The first note from his guitar and voice surpassed anything I had heard in its simplicity and its power. When he sings the first phrase, "When love comes to town", listen to the emphasis on the word "town" and how he ends it and the inflection he puts into the last letter in its decay. That puts his whole style into a nutshell. Master that on guitar and you will have something many players cannot even approach. Eric Clapton admits that's still his goal. Anybody can start a phrase on vocals or guitar, but only a master like a BB King knows how to end it.

Also when he opens with his guitar playing, it's four amazing notes.
BB King is a minimalist, you don't need a million notes to say something, even if you only play 30 notes in the whole song, each note has it's place and you make those notes count.

My favorite example of this is "The thrill is gone." Those very few notes in the verse are absolutely amazing. That sort of minimalism I'd LOVE to put into a heavy metal song. Yes I know full well metal is about speed and whatever, but could you imagine BB king style minimalism in a power ballad? No one has done it yet, would be something new
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post #7 of 29 (permalink) Old 03-05-2015, 10:46 AM
 
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Re: BB King box questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by MatiasTolkki View Post
BB King is a minimalist, you don't need a million notes to say something, even if you only play 30 notes in the whole song, each note has it's place and you make those notes count.

My favorite example of this is "The thrill is gone." Those very few notes in the verse are absolutely amazing. That sort of minimalism I'd LOVE to put into a heavy metal song. Yes I know full well metal is about speed and whatever, but could you imagine BB king style minimalism in a power ballad? No one has done it yet, would be something new
Musically a slow note solo should work but our ears are so conditioned to fast, cliche-like passages for metal and the first to make a song like that which sells would be a real achievement.

After the diatonic, superstrat, Floyd Rose infused shredding of the 1980s, much of it too fast and stiff as a board because it was designed to be fast and loud first with the composition being put in the back seat, it was great to see some players slow things down, simplify but still keep a metal edge to their playing. Guys like Zakk and Slash showed you don't have to dive bomb and play every single note in a diatonic scale. You can take a break and bend every now and then and you can get a lot of mileage out of the simple blues scale and picking notes more often than using some tricky sweep mechanics.
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post #8 of 29 (permalink) Old 03-05-2015, 12:50 PM
 
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Re: BB King box questions

I'm more familiar with what I've heard called the "Albert King box," which is just an extension of the pentatonic scale - if you're in the 5th position, playing in Am:

Code:
|---------------------5-8-|----------8-10-|
|-----------------5-8-----|-----8-10------|
|-------------5-7---------|-7-9-----------|
|---------5-7-------------|---------------|
|-----5-7-----------------|---------------|
|-5-8---------------------|---------------|
Looks to be virtually identical to the BB King pattern in the lesson with the major different being which note you consider the root (here, 10, in the BB King example, 8, on the B string), and the added 3rd.

Stevie Ray, in particular does a TON in this extension of the minor pentatonic scale - check out "The Sky Is Crying" for some great ideas moving in and out of it:

http://youtu.be/6s9M-52fRGU

Re: BB King's minimalist style... I took lessons with a great jazz/blues player in college, and when "Engines of Creation" came in I was so blown away by the solo for "Until We Say Goodbye" that I brought it in with me one day. I forget, I think I even loaned it to the guy. Talking about the lead break, and in particular the way Satch was mixing up slower sustained bits with full-on shred (with what sounds like a only slightly overdriven Strat, no less), this guy commented (and in reference to that one bluesy bend in the middle of the faster end of the solo, I think, but it was a long time ago) "the thing with BB King, is he's known for hitting "those" notes that just knock you over... But that's all he can really do. When you hear someone like Satriani do that, it means something very different, because it's definitely a choice.

Doesn't have a ton to do with this here, I suppose, but it's food for thought.

EDIT - I stand corrected - the tab I posted is what generally IS considered the "BB King blues box." Not sure what's up with the added notes in the Premier Guitar article, but that's defnitely a variant. Anyway, you'll hear a lot of the m3 on the 8th fret E string being bent to the M3, the 10th fret E being bent up to the 5th, and then as you shift back down into the standard pentatonic box you tend to hear the 8th fret B b7 being bent to the root, the 7th fret 4 on the G being bent up to the 5, etc. Basically, just go learn a few "The Sky is Crying" licks and you'll be good for a while.

EDIT #2 - also, hit the strings HARD. This is blues - dial back the gain and instead work your pick attack.
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post #9 of 29 (permalink) Old 03-05-2015, 06:44 PM Thread Starter
 
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Re: BB King box questions

Drew:

He could be a master, but it sounds like he doesn't see the good points of BB King's style because he swings on the jazz side. If you can hit "those" notes on command, that takes skill that most guitarists can't even imagine. Heck, if Eric Clapton can't even do it, that has to mean something.

Also, BB has the best vibrato around. I think the only guitarist that can take on BB's vibrato is Yngwie (Yes, Yngwie has amazing vibrato and that shouldn't be held against him for being a self-righteous ass).
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post #10 of 29 (permalink) Old 03-05-2015, 07:09 PM Thread Starter
 
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Re: BB King box questions

Oh and Drew, when I practice blues progressions, I do it on the clean channel of my amp. It has very little gain on it so the cleans shine through. Better to learn that sort of thing clean than with any gain. Light gain can be peppered in later just to add a little extra sustain
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post #11 of 29 (permalink) Old 03-05-2015, 09:27 PM
 
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Re: BB King box questions

BB King does that simple thing that we can do "technically" but there's a certain feel of a master which has led many to call him the best in his genre. You can notate his passages quite easily but there's a certain x-factor that makes him just a little bit different. Just like a lot of great violin makers can produce an amazing instrument, there was something elusive about Stradivarius. Give all the luthiers the same wood and same training, I think you may find that there's a human element mixed in with an amazing work ethic and genius that makes these one of kind instruments that set Stadivarius apart.

One thing I do is make skateboards for professionals and while there are many great skaters out there who can do certain moves nicely, there's just something "extra" when you see a Daewon Song, Tony Hawk, or Eric Koston. They are in that small category of the best at what they do and BB King is among the few who are the best in blues on electric guitar. It doesn't really matter if he's not adept at every style on said electric guitar, but he has a lifetime of skill and work showing nicely at what he can do. Of the professional, legendary skateboarders I mentioned, they are all known as one trick pony type skaters, but we are all in awe at Daewon Song's technical prowess, Tony Hawk's big ramp work, and Eric Koston's improvising street skating skills.
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post #12 of 29 (permalink) Old 03-06-2015, 10:33 AM Thread Starter
 
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Re: BB King box questions

I think taking BB king's style and adapting it to metal would be just insane. I mean even Dragonforce, the crazy speed demons they are, play most of their high speed leads in Minor Pentatonic. I really need to explore Minor petatonic more, I may found some interesting jewels that will help my playing
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post #13 of 29 (permalink) Old 03-08-2015, 09:31 PM
 
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Re: BB King box questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by MatiasTolkki View Post
BB King is a minimalist, you don't need a million notes to say something, even if you only play 30 notes in the whole song, each note has it's place and you make those notes count.

My favorite example of this is "The thrill is gone." Those very few notes in the verse are absolutely amazing. That sort of minimalism I'd LOVE to put into a heavy metal song. Yes I know full well metal is about speed and whatever, but could you imagine BB king style minimalism in a power ballad? No one has done it yet, would be something new
That's all quaint and wishful thinking imo. It just won't work in a heavy rock solo.

Even Blues tracks could do with a royal boot up the behest:

If this is emotion vs speed/flash I'll take the latter every day of the week

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CH879JvJKFU


A good way to practice your phrasing is to break down those scales and start with say 2 notes
from the scale and only use those 2 notes to see how many phrases and licks you can come up
with, bending those notes will allow you to introduce more notes if you know what I mean. It's
a great way of learning to hear the intervals between notes in the scale as well. When you add in
a 3rd note things start to really open up. You can use the box patterns or map the notes over the
fretboard. I try not to think of scales as being set in the fixed positions you first learn them in, that's
far too limiting for me.

Last edited by IbanezDaemon; 03-09-2015 at 06:04 AM.
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post #14 of 29 (permalink) Old 03-10-2015, 01:11 PM
 
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Re: BB King box questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by MatiasTolkki View Post
Drew:

He could be a master, but it sounds like he doesn't see the good points of BB King's style because he swings on the jazz side. If you can hit "those" notes on command, that takes skill that most guitarists can't even imagine. Heck, if Eric Clapton can't even do it, that has to mean something.

Also, BB has the best vibrato around. I think the only guitarist that can take on BB's vibrato is Yngwie (Yes, Yngwie has amazing vibrato and that shouldn't be held against him for being a self-righteous ass).
Oh, no, this guy was definitely a big fan of BB King, played regularly in a blues band, and was a great and very tasteful blues player in his own right. I think he was getting at what shapes a player's voice, and how the context of a player's usual style can shape how you interpret a particular passage. He was a really insightful guy, and I think I learned as much from just talking with him as I did in formal lessons.

Anf Yngwie does have great vibrato. Scalloped boards and an 8 high E will do that.

(Full disclosure - I think BB King was way more notable as a bandleader than a soloist, though he was clearly very innovative in his day - the practice of bending notes is generally attributed to have been a contribution of his, which is huge.)
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post #15 of 29 (permalink) Old 03-11-2015, 10:09 AM Thread Starter
 
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Re: BB King box questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by Drew View Post
Oh, no, this guy was definitely a big fan of BB King, played regularly in a blues band, and was a great and very tasteful blues player in his own right. I think he was getting at what shapes a player's voice, and how the context of a player's usual style can shape how you interpret a particular passage. He was a really insightful guy, and I think I learned as much from just talking with him as I did in formal lessons.

Anf Yngwie does have great vibrato. Scalloped boards and an 8 high E will do that.

(Full disclosure - I think BB King was way more notable as a bandleader than a soloist, though he was clearly very innovative in his day - the practice of bending notes is generally attributed to have been a contribution of his, which is huge.)
I didn't know that about string bending... If he's the one who really did bring that in, we all owe him our lives in guitar, especially metalheads like me

That makes more sense that you explained that guy's perspective a little bit more. From that perspective, I can agree with what you mentioned earlier.
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