Joe Bonamassa
Eric Clapton 1970

I hope I won’t incur the same wrath as Bob Dylan, when he went electric at the Newport Beach Folk Festival in 1965. Not to worry though, I’ll still be delivering music on nylon string acoustic guitars. I just have another side to my playing that I’d like to express.

I’m a huge fan of British Blues Invasion of the 60’s: Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Keith Richards, Jimi Hendrix, etc. [Technically Hendrix is not British, but he made his way to America via London nonetheless.]

Specifically, I’ve always identified with Clapton. His lead style is always rhythmically “in the pocket” — and his solos were very easy for me to learn when I was 14 years old. [I’m 39 now.]

If you listen to Eric Clapton’s earliest work: at 21 years old with John Mayall and the Blues Breakers, then later with Cream — every solo is a blues clinic.

He stays rhythmically tight with the band, and his licks develop from the 1 4 5 blues chord progression; e.g. if his bass player is playing a B note, Clapton’s lead will also emphasize a B note. This is very hard to do while improvising in real time.

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How to play British Blues Lead in G by Joe Bonamassa

Currently the world’s preeminent Blues guitarist is Joe Bonamassa. I also did a pretty comprehensive piece on him when I created an entirely instrumental version of The Valley Runs Low.

I follow his Facebook page where he posted this jam on April 11th. I suspect he created this, but he could be playing some old blues riff I’ve never heard before.

Either way, it perfectly exemplifies the style of play that I described in the post above: it’s rhythmically tight, and it also adheres to the 1 4 5 chord progression. You can here the underlying rhythm within the blues licks. When I heard this, I had to figure it out.

Joe Bonamassa’s version is far snappier than mine — but I did the best I could. Bonamassa uses his thumb in the very beginning to fret the G note (3rd fret, 6th string). I just couldn’t get my thumb adequately over the top of neck to eek out that G note — so I left it out of my performance and guitar tab.

Other than the intro, my representation is note-for-note.

The guitar tab for British Blues Lead in G is 3 pages long. I wrote this guitar tab very thoughtfully and spaciously. When I play this jam, I see the licks in sections, so I’ve sectioned off the guitar tab into isolated blues phrases. This way the licks/phrases aren’t running together and it doesn’t seem so daunting to play. 

[Note: on page three of the guitar tab, you’ll see the numbers 2, 1, and 3 written under the tab. Those are the fingers that I use for those specific notes. That section is 0:31 of the video: a very weird and linear lick.]

Ok that’s it! I broke it down so it will be easier to play than you think.

Enjoy, the guitar tab is available below:

British Blues Lead in G is played in standard tuning.

British Blues Lead in G

Written by:

Matthew's dad, Jennifer's husband, bass player - New Invisible Joy, YouTuber, short-film composer, creator of modern content for guitar.