how to play “Mr. Big” by Free on guitar | electric guitar lesson tutorial

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An electric guitar lesson on how to play “Mr. Big” by Free originally from their 1970 album “Fire and Water.” This lesson is for the version from the movie soundtrack for Demolition, which uses the Sunderland 1970 live version.

I was watching a movie the other day called Demolition. It stars Jake Gyllenhaal and there’s a scene where he’s hanging out with his girlfriend’s 15 year-old son. Gyllenhaal’s character looks out of a window and sees the kid playing drums in the garage. He’s jamming along with a track and it turns out its Mr. Big by Free! Such a great scene! Later in the same scene Gyllenhaal is seen dancing down the streets of New York listening to Mr. Big on his Ipod. So great and so funny too! It completely captures the essence of great rock music which is more an attitude and a feeling than it is technical musicianship. The Stones said it best, “I know it’s only rock’n’roll…but I like it!”

Anyways. Free were a fantastic band and this tune is just stripped down drums, bass and guitar with Paul Rogers supplying a killer vocal. It’s not complicated to play, but you have to nail the feel of it and that’s always harder than just fingering the chords! Muting is super important in this one as it allows room for the bass and drums to do their thing.

I really love this kind of music. It’s simple, but it’s got huge feel and attitude.

I had a lot of fun making this video so I hope you enjoy it and have fun playing this awesome song.

I get a lot of questions about my sound so here’s what I’m using:

My guitar is a 1975 Gibson Les Paul Deluxe. I have Suhr Aldrich pickups on it. I have them coil split, but for this video they were in full humbucker mode. For this tune I didn’t use any effects, not even reverb, just straight into the amp with a low gain setting.

My amp is an Egnater Renegade head. I am using a Two Notes Torpedo Live. It’s a load box and a speaker emulator so I’m not running the Marshall 1960b speaker cabinet anymore. It enables you to crank up your tube amp but use headphones, or just listen at low volume through your monitors, so I can be rocking out and getting a great sound without bothering people around me. So far I like it!
I use a TC Electronics Nova System through the loop for effects. I also have a BB preamp which I essentially never use anymore, and sometimes (rarely) a Boss CS-3 compressor. The reverb is from the amp. My wah is a Dunlop MC404 CAE Dual Inductor, REALLY great pedal! I also use a Polytune tuner which is fantastic.

Folks may be surprised at how much time and effort goes into creating these videos. If you’re getting something out of the lessons and can afford to contribute, I’ve setup a Paypal link. If you can’t afford it no worries, but if you can, any amount is appreciated and will help me to continue to make the videos.


Thanks for all the comments, and questions and of course for subscribing. A special thanks to all of you that have contributed financially by making a donation! I really appreciate the support. Good luck to everyone with their guitar playing.
Video Rating: / 5


  1. That was great! How about some Alice Cooper?

  2. I have and listen to both versions of this song, I thought I was the only person in the world who did! Great tutorial, as usual.

  3. letitsnowization

    Great lesson AS ALWAYS ! any chance of teaching the rest of this great song?

  4. guitartonequest

    Hey man, right on with everything you said. I also just watched the movie Demolition and was thrilled they played this song. It's been one of my favourites, and I still jam to it. I've had it in my top lists of songs to do with a band for a long while, and have never been able to convince any of them! I'd love to have a band that plays this sort of raw rock. So dynamic and expressive. Of course, you need everyone with the attitude to pull it off. Thanks again!

  5. thx! been groovin 2 "On the Hunt". by ( band.) feel beats flash uh-huh! bird, OUT.

  6. Never heard of this song until now but I'm glad you introduced me to it

  7. Station 2Station

    I'm 48 and a total music head since I was a kid – all genres. I've played piano and guitar since my youth/teens.. I've never heard this song… weird.

  8. love your lessons bro!!!! BIG FAN HERE!! for many other new guitar players wanting to learn songs……is there anyways you can make a set of videos of easy songs for new players from big bands????

  9. Hello , please could you make a tutotorial of the song " shine" acoustic version of mr.big?

  10. The_Philosopher_King

    I like that you are giving lessons based on the lesser known songs that are out there. I think Classic Rock Radio is forbidden to play anything but All Right Now. Free was a great rock band. Since I first watched this lesson I spent time watching a few old videos of the band. They did have that style. Kossoff and Fraser played well together too. To think that Fraser was only 15 when Free started.

  11. Fabiano Guimarães

    Awesome! Always the finest song choices of YouTube! How about some Rory Gallagher?

  12. Various Things

    Man, I thought It was mr bigs song.

  13. Great tutorial as usual. Your comments are also great and your love of what you're doing shines through, unlike others on YouTube who love the sound of their own voice.
    Would you consider doing another Free song, "Be My Friend". I love this song, and it's a bit more tricky with the partial chord voicings etc.
    Thanks again. Frank.

  14. John Arengo-Jones

    thanx from across the pond ! my life will be complete with something by the late great Steve Marriot, or Just do it, by the Pink Faries.
    ciao, jaj

  15. What about Jimmy Olsen's Blues by Spin Doctors? That would be great

  16. Vance Hendricks

    Great song choice! Nicely done. Thanks.

  17. Awesome..Did you do the backing track on this one ?

  18. Michael Hölzen

    "Daddadda mute …. Bang!" Love it! Amongst other things…the way you are telling and teaching is just great entertainment. Joyful learning. Thanks again.

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