Get a private blues lesson from ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons

About a decade ago, ZZ Top guitarist extraordinaire Billy F. Gibbons sat down with Gretsch Billy-Bo in hand to give us a lesson in playing the blues tunes that inspired him to play electric guitar.

We not only got the lesson, we got it on video! Below, we’ve provided the video, along with the relevant TAB figures for the parts that Billy plays. To help you follow along, we’ve provided the quote from Billy associated with each figure, as well as the time at which the figure appears in the video.

Figure 1 (0:22)

“One good starting point for learning the blues might be to go back to the roots with Jimmy Reed. It doesn’t get much simpler than this.”

Figure 2 (1:02)

“Jimmy Reed was accompanied by Eddie Taylor, who complemented that particular riff with this move [a IV-I change, with a b3rd-3rd grace slur]. And you can combine the two.”

Figure 3 (1:40)

“And, of course, the famous answer [turnaround], from the V back to the I, goes all the way back to Robert Johnson.”

Figure 4 (1:54)

“And then Elmore James comes in [with the classic Dust My Broom lick].”

Figure 5

“The second most important thing is to learn your I and V [Gibbons is referring to playing 6th intervals]. In the key of A, it sounds like this.”

Figure 5A (2:48)

Figure 5B (3:20)

Figure 6 (4:25)

“Now, one of my favorite cornerstone licks of the blues comes from B.B. King, and that is sliding up to the I [root] from the I. That’s my all-time favorite - the I on I.”

Figure 7 (5:00)

“Now we’re starting to get into the real, real finite side of things with harmonics. You don’t necessarily have to use a pick either [plays pinch harmonics with his pick-hand fingers].”

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