Mastering the Pentatonic Article 3 – BB King 6th and the BB Box
The Pentatonic Scale is the holy grail for guitarists. It’s easy to play and it sounds amazing.
This series will show you how to get the most out of our favourite scale, and how making small modifications will get you sounding like the pros and their signature sound.
In this article we will look at BB King’s unique note choice when soloing, and articulation techniques synonymous with the blues legend. Below is the A minor pentatonic scale.
Here are the notes and intervals of the scale:
A(root) C(m3) D(4) E(5) G(m7)
BB King 6th and the BB Box
BB played these notes to great effect. But he also added different ones and incorporated them into an incredibly user-friendly “box” to solo over dominant blues progressions. It’s called the “BB Box” (see below).
On the B & E strings, you can see familiar Minor Pentatonic notes (plus the 2nd). What gives this box the specific BB “flavour” is the use of the 6th on the G string, a note not found in the Minor Pentatonic. This box is also very versatile as you can play the Major 3rd as well with just a small half bend on fret 13. The blue note (b5) can also be added in between fret 10 and 12 on the E string.
This box will give you a brand new set of licks, as this formation of notes isn’t found in your usual pentatonic shapes.
On the right is a BB styled lick using the “BB Box” in A.
BB had his own way of bending notes and using vibrato. His vibrato is incredibly fast and achieved by almost hanging your whole hand off the neck. BB would also make these huge leaps up to the tonic note of the key. These ideas are demonstrated below.
These ideas can also be seen in the opening lick of “Lucille”.
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Learn to solo like… Angus Young (AC/DC)
PART 1 / 4 : Minor and major pentatonic scales
One of the key components in the music of AC/DC are the instantly recognizable, crazy guitar solos. Angus Young has got a few tricks he will constantly use to achieve this classic hard rock sound.
In part 1, we will look at the kind of scales Angus uses to improvise and write solos.
The most common scale used in rock (and in many more styles of music) is the minor pentatonic scale, which you probably already know. In many songs, Angus would often switch between the minor pentatonic and the major pentatonic, often at regular intervals (half a bar in major, half a bar in minor for example)
Let’s have a look at this lick using the G major and minor scales:
How to Solo like Angus Young
Now, let’s highlight the notes from the major pentatonic in pink and the notes from the minor pentatonic in blue:
To create licks following this kind of logic, we can take 2 pentatonic scales, one major and one minor, in the same area of the neck, and improvising using notes from either the major or the minor pentatonic. Here are the 2 positions the example above uses:
How To Play Lead Guitar Like Angus Young
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- The Minor Pentatonic Scale
- The Blues Scale
- The Major Scale
- The Natural Minor Scale or the Aeolian Mode
- The Dorian Mode
- The Mixolydian Mode
Basic Theory to Know for Scales
Guitar Lessons and Guitar Teachers Electric Guitar Lessons in London – Learning scales in a few easy steps.
Learn How To Improve Your Rock Guitar Solos And Improvisations with our Rock & Metal Guitar Lessons in London.
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