If you have listened to BB King and tried to reproduce his playing, then you already know that his vibrato is one of the most difficult things to reproduce.

Simply put, if you can’t vibrato like BB, then your licks won’t have the same punch. Yes they may still sound good, but without a strong vibrato, they won’t capture the listener’s attention the same way.

BB actually developed his vibrato by trying to emulate the sound of the bottleneck.

My Learning Experience

About 2 and a half years ago I decided that I wanted to be able to vibrato like BB King. So I set out to try to get as close as I could to BB’s vibrato. I listened and listened over and over again until I felt I could somewhat get a similar sound. Mind you this was not close, but closer than I had ever got before. This took me about 6 months of trying over and over again.

Now that I thought I could halfway do it, I tried to put it into some live playing. Unfortunately, I couldn’t pull it off live and reverted back to my old way of doing vibrato. I think it was because I really didn’t understand yet how to pull off the vibrato and the hand position needed to execute it.

I didn’t quit though. About a year later, something finally clicked. I started to understand the movement required to pull off a vibrato that was similar to BB King. After that is was just about practice and making it second nature.

About a year after that breakthrough, I feel I have been able to really capture the essence of how to execute the BB King style vibrato. It is a real departure from how I always applied vibrato to the strings for over 15 years. So yes if you apply yourself you can do this.

Here’s a video showing the progression I made over 2 and a half years time. Keep in mind, that I was not constantly working on this, and many times while trying to figure it out, I simply gave up. Then a couple of months later I would try again and again.

Here’s the Video


I think I have made some serious improvement, but you be the judge.

This is what I have also included in my course, Play Like BB King. This is what I have learned from 2 years of trying to emulate his vibrato style. I feel anyone who goes through the lessons and applies the techniques taught can achieve this vibrato style.

By using 2 HD cameras and up-close camera angles along with slow motion video, I don’t think there will be a question of how to do this.  This course will also teach you how to use scales to play in the BB King style.

If you’re interested in learning more about this course, you can check it out here.

Breaking Out of The Pentatonic Box Free Course

I’ll send you my completely Free, Blues Guitar Mini Course and regular subscriber-exclusive content.

45 Minute Video Guitar Course

8 MP3 Backing Track Downloads

7 Practice Tips Video

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6 Comments

  1. BBs vibrato is truly among the greatest, if not the absolute greatest. I’ve been struggling with my vibrato, but now I might have a solution… got to pick up that DVD!

    And, for something completely different, I have a suggestion for slide lessons, John. Everybody knows that Jeff Beck is a killer guitarist, but he is also a killer slide guitar player. I think he plays in standard tuning too, so if you want to come up with more slide lessons, there you have something! :)

  2. Thank you so much for this! I’ve always loved BB’s music. I still remember learning and reading about BB. I still think it’s amazing that he uses the whole string when re-stringing Lucille. I’m not sure what sound difference it makes? But, I always thought that was inventive. Thanks again! :)

  3. Nice job, it sounds like you got it. I’ve been trying to get that sound for years and I still can’t do it. And I love the tone on your guitar too.

  4. I have tried to see the video using three different browsers under Win 7. Chrome and IE just go black; Firefox says I need a plugin. Is the video still available?

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