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Lyle Ronglien >> Billy Gibbons style >>

Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top) Style

Lesson 5

Lyle: Tonight's lesson is in A minor and C minor. Let's begin with A minor. Here's the jam track:

Lyle: Billy Gibbons plays very tight rhythms and this is a great example of that. Tight, muted up-strokes give this rhythm riff it's groove.

Lyle: The riff here is using 3 chords, A, C and G. Most of Billy's riffs are played with the minor pentatonic scale. Here's a couple patterns for you to learn:

Lyle: Let's take a close look at a few riffs in the style of Billy Gibbons using this scale. Riff 1 has a couple different types of bends, whole and quarter step bends.

Lyle: I like this next riff because it bends the root note up a whole step (10th fret, 2nd string).

Lyle: Riff 3 is a simple riff, but the use of the different bend amounts is the important part.

Lyle: Riff 4 has a tough bend. You'll use your 1st finger to bend up a whole step (5th fret, 3rd string).

Lyle: Riff 5 uses hammer-ons and sliding:

Lyle: Try playing these riffs along to the jam track. You can put them in any order you want and also come up with your own variations.

GregV: Are you pulling the g string down in riff 4?

Lyle: In the video clip you can see that I pull it down towards the ground.

Lyle: Riff 6 uses the 1st finger again for a whole step bend.

Lyle: When playing the blues, you're mostly using the simple pentatonic scale. You need to add lots of bends and vibrato to the riffs to add "feeling".

Lyle: Just like in this next riff:

GregV: Are you using your pick and fingers to get the squealing sound in Riff6?

JimR: is the squeal called a pinch harmonic?

Lyle: That's called "pinched harmonics.

Lyle: The pick and side of your thumb hit the string at about the same time. Try this technique with the bridge pickup on and use distortion.

Lyle: Riff 8 is what I call a "filler" riff. It's found in several styles and can be used as a filler between other riffs.

Lyle: Let's modulate to the key of C minor. Here's a few C minor pentatonic patterns you can learn:

Lyle: Here's a new jam track in C:

Lyle: This is the same rhythm riff that you played earlier, but the position is a little different.

Lyle: Now let's look at a couple riffs in this new key. Riff 9 can be played with the 1st and 2nd fingers or the 2nd and 3rd.

Lyle: Riff 10 is where you might want to use your 2nd and 3rd fingers because of the slide down...

Lyle: Riff 11 is a work-out for your bending technique. Bend a whole step with your 3rd finger, then half step with your index finger.

Lyle: Here's another:

Lyle: Riff 13 is yet another sliding type of riff:

Lyle: Here's a jam track that switches back and forth between the two jams/keys we worked on tonight - A minor and C minor, 16 bars/measures of each.

Lyle: All of the riffs in this lesson can be used over the A and C rhythms, you'll just have to transpose them to fit.

Lyle: Example: Riff 13 is in the C minor part of this lesson, If you wanted to play it over the A rhythm riff, just move it down 3 frets.

Lyle: That's all for this lesson.

Lyle: Thanks for being in our live lesson tonight. Glad you enjoyed it. See you next time!

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