25 LICKS... YOU NEED TO KNOW!
Pump up your playing today with a set of iconic licks no guitarist should be without!
a definitive list of 25 licks spanning the entire blues-rock universe is a contentious thing. We’d all come up with different results! so apologies if your personal favourites are missing. these are simply my attempt at providing you with a set of phrases that could form the core of a superb lick armoury; something that if you were just starting out would send you happily into the fray; and which, if you’ve been playing for years might fill out a tired or depleted quiver of arrows.
the truth for any musician is that it’s important to have a grasp on the history and evolution of a musical style, and how the various traits of influential players from each era are related. for example, how is Muddy Waters’ You need love, connected to Jimmy Page? (Youtube it, you might be surprised!)
it’s this type of knowledge that allows us to understand how our favourite players have used influences to inform their own playing. I find myself constantly reinforcing this to my own students, as there are very few truly original voices in modern music - only a tiny minority of which are guitarists. in blues and rock, the harmonies and rhythms are often quite simple, but what is amazing is how great players down the decades have manipulated this relatively simple musical language and articulated it in their own way.
What i have tried to achieve here is to put together a rundown of the most favoured components, be it harmonically, rhythmically or articulation wise, that reappear in licks from players from the 40s through to today. the lesson features 25 licks, in descending numerical order, each with a unique component that has been ‘borrowed’ from one or more iconic player, followed by a solo study featuring all these elements.
You could use this lesson in one of two different ways. first, as a chops-building workout, whereby you play the licks back to back, as i have demonstrated on the audio. this would be great for stamina and focus if you are to perform all 25 correctly, in one hit. alternatively you can view each lick as an individual study idea in its own right.
Work on exploring the musical elements further, then invent ideas of your own using players you like as inspiration - combined, of course, with your own creative steam!
Why not select a few of the elements discussed and write a 12-bar study using them exclusively. Can you make it sound natural, like a piece of music and not just a collection of contrived phrases stuck together? this type of musically creative practice is what the pros do. Good luck, and have fun!
Work on exploring the musical elements further, then invent some ideas of your own using players you like as inspiration.