5 Blues Licks You Need to Know

5 Blues Licks You Need to Know

When you start out building guitar solos it can be tricky to come up with licks. In this lesson you are going to learn 5 blues licks that you can take away today and start to put into your own playing.

All the licks in this lesson are in the key of A Minor and use notes from the minor pentatonic shape in it’s first and second shapes.

Lick 1

Alternative Strumming 1 Frets Image

This lick is a great shuffle feel lick. You start on the 4 of the count in bar with a triplet bending phrase before sliding into the second shape of the minor pentatonic.

You may notice a 4 note phrase notated as triplet. This is normal. The initial slide from the 9 to the 7 on the G is played very quickly so don’t hang on that 9th fret too long. Check out the Youtube video for a full break down of that movement.

Lick 2

Alternative Strumming 1 Frets Image

This lick is a rock and roll style double stop lick that has been rocked up a little to make it work great with up tempo blues.

It’s all based around double stops on the B and E strings. The first two beats of the bar are triplets on the 5th fret double stop. On the third beat you hit a double stop on the 7th of the B and 8th of the E, but bend the B string up a semi tone to the pitch of the 8th fret.

Once you hit the third bar you are using the same technique but playing it as a single triplet and a bend.

Lick 3

Alternative Strumming 1 Frets Image

This descending lick uses a note known as the b5 (Flat five) of the scale. This is commonly referred to as the blues note. In this lick, the blues note is the 8th fret of the G.

This descending lick is based around some triplets, but once again we’re using that 4 notes over a triplet idea. In this instance, you’re just implying the b5 note and sliding it down a fret to the 7th fret.

You don’t want to hang on this note too long. It can cause dissonance with the key of the song. It’s great to use as passing note, and it adds interesting colouration to your licks, but hanging on it too long makes it sound like a wrong note.

Lick 4

Alternative Strumming 1 Frets Image

This is an Eric Clapton inspired triplet lick that uses a repeated hammer on phrase on the first three beats of the bar.

This is based in the second shape of the minor pentatonic. You can approach this lick one of two ways:

The first way is to roll your index finger between the two 8th fret notes as needed. The second way is to leave the index finger barred across both strings. Do whichever feels natural.

Lick 5

Alternative Strumming 1 Frets Image

This final lick is a speedy one. This is an early Eric Clapton style lick that uses a bar of straight sixteenth notes (four notes per beat).

This is also a few interesting notes added. The 6th fret on the G is actually a major note, which can sound great over a minor blues when placed appropriately. You also have the b5 making an appearance once more.

This lick sounds great fast or slow, but if you’re working on it fast, don’t forget to practise with the metronome to get those sixteenth notes tight.

About The Author

Leigh Fuge is a professional guitar player from Swansea in South Wales that has written and created content for many high-profile guitar brands and publications such as PMT, RSL Rockschool, Trinity College London, Guitar.com and more.

He works with mgrmusic.com to provide high quality guitar content for guitar players of all abilities from around the country. To date, mgrmusic.com has successfully generated over 32,000 student enquiries for their network of music teachers around the country. Find a local teacher in your area today.