25 LICKS... YOU NEED TO KNOW!

Pump up your play­ing to­day with a set of iconic licks no gui­tarist should be with­out!

Guitar Techniques - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

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