Guitar practice – some licks

By mic on 3/5/2010

My last post was about practicing guitar. This one has some of the simpler licks that I practice regularly. I have always wanted to start a collection of nice guitar licks and here is a start. I like the ones below as they do not use complex guitar techniques: no arpeggios or shredding, not too much movement up and down the neck, simple fingering and barring. Plus, these licks sound good and are very common. I enjoy blues improvisation and so these licks are bluesy, but we will have time for rock licks later.

Here is the first one in standard notation and in guitar tab.

Example guitar lick 1

Click to listen to this guitar lick

The lick above is in A. It was prepared in GuitarPro and recorded directly from GuitarPro using the MIDI mapper of my computer, so it may sound a bit strange. The riff is extremely standard – thousands of songs probably use it. I enjoy it, because it is one for major blues. Most people have forgotten how to solo over a major blues riff. Plus, if you want to extend / finish it, you can always play the following.

Example guitar lick 2

Click to listen to this guitar lick

Here is another one – same time signature, this time in Am.

Example guitar lick 3

Click to listen to this guitar lick

This lick is extremely standard as well (think Steve Ray Vaughan’s Pride and Joy). The lick is a nice change from the fourth (the first bar, Dm / D here) to the first (Am). It is good for practice as it is a bit simpler, but not that simple. It has some slides and changes of position and is playful as it is not just eighth note triplets. The C (the eighth fret of the first string) can also use some quarter bends to make it even more interesting.

If you want an even more complex piece of music, here is a piece of Steve Ray Vaughan’s interpretation of Little Wing (except I put it in Am). I am sure I am wrong on the rhythmic structure of the original song, but nevertheless the lick is interesting because of the jumping between strings and the placement of the bends.

Example guitar lick 4

Click to listen to this guitar lick

Since we are on standard blues licks, here are two more. The first one is a great coda to any song.

Example guitar lick 5

Click to listen to this guitar lick

The second one is a standard turnaround. Later on we shall have to put more of these in a post, as there are a ton of such standard turnarounds that would be cool to incorporate at any ending of a blues solo. This one is similar to Robert Johnson’s "Me and the Devil Blues".

Example guitar lick 6

Click to listen to this guitar lick

Last but not least, just to make things interesting, here is a knockoff of the Hungarian scale, which could also be used as an ending to a blues solo. Blues is flexible and there is no reason not to stick some folklore sounds in it.

Example guitar lick 7

Click to listen to this guitar lick

authors: mic


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