Learn to Play: Mick Taylor Riffs Guitar Lesson with Jeff Massey

Mick Taylor is one of the all-time greats in blues and rock 'n' roll guitar playing. Along with Peter Green and Eric Clapton, Taylor spent some time in John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers before joining The Rolling Stones in 1969 at the young age of 20, where he remained until the mid-'70s. You can hear his guitar genius on Stones albums like Sticky Fingers and Exile On Main St., among others, and many consider his time with the Stones to be the group's best, both in terms of album output and live performance.

After leaving the Stones, Taylor pursued a project with legendary bassist Jack Bruce, released an eponymous solo record, and even spent a short time in Bob Dylan’s band. Taylor is still playing today, and even recently reunited with his old Stones bandmates for a few guest performances.

Taylor has been spotted with a couple different guitars over the years, but he's most associated with a '59 Gibson Les Paul. And in the early '70s, it would not have been uncommon to hear both Taylor and Keith Richards rocking through Ampeg SVTs on stage to create uniquely huge guitar sounds, especially with the Les Paul.

For this lesson, I wanted to emphasize how smooth of a lead player Taylor is. Like many of his peers, Taylor is blues-based and much of his lead playing relies on blues and pentatonic scale pattern. He can both ascend and descend through a scale pattern without sounding monotonous or mundane, and this melodic sensibility is a major component of his lead style.

Great tone, feel, and a powerful and smooth vibrato are all ingredients in Taylor’s lead recipe, and I hope this lesson provides some new ideas for your own lead playing. Be sure to follow along with the full lesson above, and stay tuned for Massey's next lesson on Joe Walsh next week.


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