Video: ZZ Top-Style Riff Using the MXR Custom Badass '78

I begin this greasy, ZZ Top-inspired lick with a pickup into bar 2, where I play an A major triad (A C♯ E) that I quickly slide into a B♭ major triad (B♭ D F). While this is a major-chord shape, when played over a G note it becomes a G minor seven (Gm7). The trickiest part here is making the quick position shift at the end of bar 1, so pay special attention to nailing the transition cleanly.

For the double-stop (two-note) bend in the middle of bar 2, I employ my middle and ring fingers to bend the G and B strings, respectively. Using one finger per string, as opposed to barring the fifth fret with one finger, allows me to really dig in and nail the bends on each string.

To get the three-quarter-step bend on the second beat of bar 3 to sound just right, make the bend as gradual as possible; "slink" into it rather than attack it. Finally, be careful not to overshoot the quick slide into the G note on the B string's eighth fret at the end of the third beat in bar 4.

The tempo is 80 beats per minute, 65 for slow practice.

For info about the MXR Custom Badass '78 distortion pedal used in this lesson, head here.

Check out Lick of the Day, a free download for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch available at the App Store here.

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Paul Riario

Paul Riario has been the tech/gear editor and online video presence for Guitar World for over 25 years. Paul is one of the few gear editors who has actually played and owned nearly all the original gear that most guitarists wax poetically about, and has survived this long by knowing every useless musical tidbit of classic rock, new wave, hair metal, grunge, and alternative genres. When Paul is not riding his road bike at any given moment, he remains a working musician, playing in two bands called SuperTrans Am and Radio Nashville.