Learn to Play: Paul Kossoff Licks and Vibrato Guitar Lesson with Jeff Massey

Paul Kossoff was a true pioneer in the world of rock 'n' roll guitar playing. With the bands Free and, later, Back Street Crawler, Paul was a genius of songwriting and carried with him an original style of guitar playing in his approach to both rhythm and lead.

With Free, Kossoff released classic albums like All Right Now and Fire and Water, among others. And on those records, like so many of his peers Kossoff relied on the undeniable combination of a Gibson Les Paul running through a Marshall amplifier. But his unorthodox approach to chords and stinging-fast lead vibrato gave Kossoff a unique flair that separated him from the pack.

In the lesson above, I have focused my attention on Kossoff’s lead guitar playing, emphasizing the unique vibrato technique was known for. Paul is a master of turning basic pentatonic scale patterns into a searing lead with simple note combinations, so some of the licks featured in the lesson might first seem similar to those of a lot of other familiar blues rock players'.

But it’s Kossoff's unique approach with the vibrato technique that gives these licks their own personality, and by learning his technique, you can make your own lead playing more dynamic—playing a faster vibrato than usual can spice up a melody or a solo and add more options to your overall lead style.

Oddly enough, it has been written that Kossoff was unhappy with his own bending technique, and on later records with Back Street Crawler, slowed down his vibrato and traded his LP for a Fender Strat. Some diehard Kossoff fans consider this period to be the pinnacle of his playing, with the Back Street Crawler recordings displaying some of Kossoff's most soulful playing.

Be sure to follow along with the full lesson above, and browse Free and Back Street Crawler records on Reverb LP for even more inspiration.


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