Blues: Beyond The B.B. King Box

by Jacob Light

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  • Hey folks,

    Thank you for checking out my lesson and welcome to Blues: Beyond the B.B. King Box. If you've been playing the blues for a while, you are probably familiar with the B.B. King box. It's arguably the easiest way to produce sweet sounding licks in the style of one of the finest blues guitar players the world has ever known. That is probably the reason that so many players get hung up on that box and have a hard time going beyond it or implementing "boxy" ideas with other musical elements, such as other scales, chords shapes, arpeggios, etc., when trying to capture that signature B.B. King sound.

    In today's lesson I'm going to show you some ideas on how to use the B.B. King box to jump start your licks and how to break out of it and explore some other improvisational avenues. This will not only help to expand your musical palette, but also enable you play in the style of B.B. King in a more elaborate, compelling and three dimensional way.

    Please feel free to ask any questions you may have in the comment section, and I'll be more than happy to help.

    Enjoy :)


    Key: Bb

    Chords: Bb7, Eb7, F7

    Chord Progression:
    (12 bar slow blues with a "quick change" or a "quick IV")

    | I | IV | I | I | IV | IV |
    | I | I | V | IV | I | V |

    Tempo: 70bpm

    Time Signature: 12/8

    Tuning: Standard

    Gear Used:

    Lead Guitar: 1999 Gibson Les Paul Standard
    Amp: Fender Tweed Deluxe (1x12) Limited Edition
    Mics: Shure SM57 and Rode NTK (slightly off-axis)
    Preamps: Presonus TubePre x2
    DAW: Avid Pro Tools 11

    Scale Shapes:

    The B.B. King Box

    (The box is presented in the key of A since GMC's scale generator doesn't let you go beyond the 12th fret. To use this box in the key of Bb, simply play every note a half a step higher)

    The Composite Blues Scale

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