5 Blues Licks from Pattern 1

These 5 licks use only notes from the Minor Pentatonic, and incorporate string bending (as most blues licks do!) so you'll need to have done some work on your bending before having a go at these licks!

They're all very very common licks that you'll find most blues players using, so you want to 'put these in your bag' right away. For this lesson just work on playing them - getting the bends in tune and playing them over and over until you feel comfortable with them. Next lesson we'll be looking at how to use them effectively!

Lick TABs

So here we have our first 5 words!! This is a big day :)

P1 - Lick 1
This lick is only 3 notes long but uses a bend, a curl and so is a great first word :) It's in the style of the great Albert King who was a real master of string bending!

P1 - Lick 2
This is a real classic lick, most used by the incredible Jimi Hendrix, this will help you learn to mute the string after the bend because if you mess that up it will sound awful!

P1 - Lick 3
This is probably one of the most used licks in the Blues vocabulary! It's used many different ways by many different artists, can be played slow or fast, softly or aggressively and I would say it's a must learn if you want to play the blues.

P1 - Lick 4
In this lick we have a bend followed by the same note on the next string which is helpful for you getting your bend in tune. It's another very commonly used 'word' and you'll find many variations of it used by many artists.

P1 - Lick 5
The main feature of this lick is the roll between strings 2 and 3 and the 'Blues Curl' on the note C (F5:S3 - shorthand for Fret 5, String 3) and it's amazing how much getting a good curl makes the lick sound awesome - we'll be looking at Curls in more detail later in the module!

Lick Practice

These suggested practice ideas should be incorporated into your intermediate practice routine. Try not to neglect other areas of you playing when you are learning something new!

1. Lick Practice
I recommend that you work on the licks, one at a time, and try to get them memorized so that you can play them without thinking about them. Practice slow, and make sure your bends are in tune and your timing is solid. Although you can mess about with the rhythm, it should be a specific rhythm, not just 'free'. Timing is VERY important in the blues. How do you think the great masters can play incredible solos with so few notes? Because their time is awesome!

2. Hearing The Licks In Your Mind
Try to 'imagine' what the lick sounds like. Do this outside your practice time, just a few times a day, try and go through all five licks in your mind - can you recall what they sound like and how to move your fingers to make those sounds? This visualization technique is super effective and helping you develop the language and letting it flow. If you can't remember them, take a sneaky quick look at the tab and then try to hear them in your mind.

3. Use the licks
I recommend at least 5 minutes of jamming with a backing track every day. Start with just one lick and play it over and over again and explore the lick 'as written' and when you start to get bored, try experimenting with the rhythm or the note order. Can you spend the whole 5 minutes exploring one lick? it's pretty hard but good for you! But work up to playing all 5 licks over a backing track (in the key of A) and trying to link them together.

4. Listen out for them.
In your blues listening (30 mins a day if you can) keep an ear out for these licks, they're pretty common, so see if you can pick them out. Maybe you'll hear the way different players play them, and how they have explored them and changed the notes or time a bit...

Next Up

Have some fun using them over the backing tracks now but we'll be looking at more ways of practising your licks effectively in a couple of lessons time. The next lesson we're going to look a little more at Vibrato In The Blues and how to practice it!

Recommended Album

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!

Albert King - Born Under A Bad Sign (1966)

Albert King played his guitar upside down with the thin string at the top. String bending is a bit easier this way (pulling down) and so Albert's unique style is based around incredible string bending. He was a huge influence on all that followed, his licks were copied and explored extensively.

Buy at Amazon.co.uk • Buy at Amazon.com • Hear it on Spotify

Backing Track

Here's a sample backing track from my Jam Blues 4 collection, a Heavy Shuffle Blues in A. You 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 to try and nail those licks!!


Blues Lead 1: Essential