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An Easy Blues Lick Lesson

Guitar Lick by Kirk Lorange

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An Easy Blues Lick - The Lesson explained

Here’s an easy one. The only thing you might need to work on is the bend (more on bends here). It’s just a semitone bend, though, so you shouldn’t have much trouble. Notice that I use three fingers of the left hand to bend that string, which as you can see in the video is done by pushing that string across the fretboard in order to increase the tension, which in turn raise the pitch of the note. I’ve indicated all of that as best I could on the animated fretboard. The arrow shows that the finger pushes the note across the fret toward the thicker strings; that little ghost note shows where the pitch of the bent note is on the fretboard. Bending is tricky at first, second nature once you get it down. The main thing to remember are 1) keep the string firmly in contact with the fretwire so you don’t lose the ringing and 2) know when to stop the bend. In this case you want the new pitch to equal the pitch of the next note up the fretboard, a 1 semitone bend. Nothing sounds worse than bending past the required pitch and going sharp of the target note.

Once again, this lick is built around chord tones. It’s played over a dominant 7 chord, so the chord tones are 1-3-5-b7. The 6 and 4 are passing tones, and the b3 is half of the hybrid third you get in the Blues: neither minor nor major. This way of writing lines — using numbers instead of note names — really is the best way to view these lines, especially moveable lines like this one. The numbers are the ‘formula’ for the lick and, as you can see/hear, the formula sounds the same no matter where you play it on the fretboard. Once you start thinking numbers instead of note names, it all becomes much easier to understand and put into practice. Numbers don’t change like note names, they’re always the same for whatever line you’re playing. The numbers always refer to the major scale of the chord in play — what I call the Chord Of The Moment — even if the chord is minor.

Seeing the numbers down there on the fretboard, fixed in their permanent positions for that moment, is the main lesson that my PlaneTalk Package teaches. It reveals the simple trick to mapping it all out as numbers, which of course then allows you see potential licks and riffs all over the place, even over complex progressions. If you know the chord, you know the numbers; if you can see them down there, you can turn them into lines, new chord voicings, harmony lines — whatever — the whole length of the fretboard.


Guitar Lick by Kirk Lorange

Kirk LorangeAs well as putting together these guitar licks, I am also the author of PlaneTalk - The Truly Totally Different Guitar Instruction Package, which teaches a mindset, a way of thinking about music and a way of tracking it all on the guitar fretboard. Yes, there IS a constant down there in the maze of strings and fret wire, a landmark that points to everything at all times. I call it The Easiest Yet Most Powerful Guitar Lesson You Will Ever Learn and many testimonials at my site will back up that rather superlative description. If your goal as a guitar player is to be able to truly PLAY the guitar, not just learn by rote; to be able to invent on the fly, not memorize every note; to be able to see the WHOLE fretboard as friendly, familiar territory, not just the first 5 frets and to do it all without thinking about all those scales and modes, then you should read more here.