BL-406 • Using Blues Licks Effectively
If you want to learn to play Blues Lead Guitar, this is where to start
Now it's time to put your new words together and try making sense! You will need to use a backing track (or a Jam Buddy if you are lucky enough to have someone to jam with!) and you will be exploring using your licks and getting creative with them.
If you've ever tried to learn a new language you may recall those early days where you just new a few words, the basics like hello and thank you... probably your accent still sounded a bit strange and you couldn't say anything interesting - but you were making progress - well it's the same now! Don't expect with a few licks you'll be sounding like Eric Clapton, but you will be making a lot more sense than before you learned any words at all!
Repetition Is Your Friend
I can't over emphasis the importance of repetition, you need to be playing these licks over and over again so that they start to happen naturally when you play. You don't want to be thinking about the words you're saying and for that to happen you need to repeat them, a lot.
Space Is Your Friend
Notice that between the licks there is some space, some silence! It's really important that you understand right from the beginning that it's important to have that, it's not there to 'fill up' it's there to help the licks makes sense and also to give you time to think about what you will play next!
Sure later on you might talk faster, leave less space at an exciting time in your story but when you are starting out it can really make your solos sound awesome and stop you 'chasing you tail' which is something I see a lot of in people learning to play lead guitar. That panic of trying to find a new lick while you're still playing one is completely unnecessary and will make your playing sound confused and it won't 'feel good' either which is really important.
Repetition Is Your Friend
Many beginner soloists are scared of playing the same lick a few times when actually it's a really good thing. You can make a pretty cool solo with just one lick! So one thing to try for sure is to do just that - solo for a whole 12 bars with just one lick... try changing the rhythm of the lick, the speed of it, play just some of it a few times, then the whole thing, use your imagination!!
Bend Is Your Friend
So perhaps you are still struggling with your string bending, in which case keep at it! Once you are bending confidently you will find that you can experiment with it a lot and it will bring your licks to another dimension! You can bend fast or slow, pick it a few times on the way up, bend it up and bend it down (release the bend). Experiment. Try it all, everything you can think of, you got nothing to lose!
Emotion Is Your Friend
Now I don't want to get all heavy on you this early on, but this Blues business is emotional stuff and the sooner you try and express yourself the better you'll feel it. And the easiest way to start is to be thinking about an emotion when you play and allowing that to effect HOW you play. Easiest to think of is to think of something sad in your life (when your pet bunny rabbit died) and then try and play it. You should find yourself playing quite softly and delicately. Then think about a time you were pretty angry (like that parking ticket last week!) and you'll find yourself playing harder and more aggressively. You're expressing yourself! That's what it's all about, and with more words and some practice you'll be telling incredible stories!
Repetition Is Your Friend
If you got something important to say, you might want to say it a few times, make sure it sinks in, y'know? ;)
To help you get started I've written out a Blues solo for you using all 5 of our licks, I would suggest that you use that as a starting point and then try and mix it up as much as you can, changing the order of the licks, adding in some extra notes of your own and generally experimenting! Supposed to be just a start point, no need to follow too closely but I'm sure it will be of benefit for some of you!
I recommend staying with this lesson for a while, don't be in a rush. These early stages using Pattern 1 are REALLY important and there's no hurry - you'll find the rest of the course a lot easier if you've put the time and effort into learning these early lessons well - particularly this one where you are putting your licks to use!
In the next lesson we'll be learning another scale pattern to explore!
Remember that listening to great Blues is an essential part of the course, so try and check out all my recommended albums, they're the best of the best!
Robert Johnson - Complete Recordings (1936-37)
Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil at the crossroads and started a legend. But his playing has been even more influential. He IS the blues, and though all the recordings of him are a bit scratchy (was a while back) his genius still shines through. Essential listening for anyone exploring the Blues.
Here's a sample backing track from my Jam Blues II collection, a Blues in A in the style of BB King. You can download and jam over it and if you enjoy it, please consider buying the rest of the album, they're all great fun for jamming!
You could have some fun trying out your new licks over this backing track... but we're going to be getting further into that next lesson so my recommendation this lesson is just try and nail those licks!!
Essential Blues Lead Guitar Course DVD set
Blues Lead Guitar Course DVD (with bonus content and Jam CD) available in The Justinguitar Store.