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Published on October 17th, 2012 | by Sam


Albert King Blues Licks

Albert King is one of the seminal electric blues players.  His bends were a serious influence on many guitarists who came after his as he was the first to use the bend as a way to change notes instead of an articulation.  Many Albert King blues licks use extended bends.  It’s not uncommon to hear bends of minor and major 3rds-which were made easier for him by tuning down.  In this lesson we’re going to look at 4 of Albert’s best blues licks.   For inspiration, check out Albert’s albums King of the Blues Guitar, Live Wire/Blues Power, and Years Gone By.  These licks are all in Bb.

Start Simple – Albert King Blues Lick 1

Albert began many of his solos with a simple 5 to 1 lick.  The thing that makes this so stunning is the conviction he played it with, and the space he would frequently put afterwards.  This lick starts there and then ends with a nasty bending lick back to the root.

Albert King Blues Lick

The second lick is a variation of the end of the first lick.  Here the rhythm is slightly different, giving the lick a nice flavor moving down.

Albert King Blues Lick

Major Bends -Albert King Blues Lick 2 & 3

Albert would frequently use huge bends as he does in Lick 3.  He would normally play the b7 of the IV chord and bend it up a major third and back down immediately.   In this case he bends a Db up to an F over an Eb7 chord. This takes some pretty serious strength and momentum, so make sure to us it with lighter strings.

Albert King Blues Lick

Extended Blues – Albert King Blues Lick 4

Albert would use the 6th in his lines.  The final lick is an extended lick that you can piece apart for several shorter licks.  Check out the ending, instead of resolving on the root, he plays the minor third again bending up slightly to end the phrase.

Albert King Blues Lick

My ebook Blues Language makes this process extremely easy.  It is now available from Amazon in both paperback and Kindle.  If you’re intrigued by the idea of vocabulary, make sure you check out the book.  It will take you through learning over 100 contextual blues phrases and help you make sense of them and help you to sound authentic without having to lose your wife, money, and develop a drinking problem!

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