Guitar lessons (opens in new tab): Be honest with yourself, how often do you start a solo with a stock pre-prepared lick? Let’s face it, we all do it sometimes. Well, why not make use of those familiar, well-practised licks because 90% of the time there’s more mileage in them than you might realise.
A few simple tricks can take you into new musical territory, all whilst retaining some of the themes of your original lick. Here, we’re looking at ways to develop a lick. Each time you practise, play our first ‘basic’ lick for a minute or two, then try one other example. Each one is based on our first lick but also takes it somewhere new. Try applying this idea in your own solos.
Start with this basic blues-rock lick
This is our basic lick. We’re using the A minor pentatonic scale and employing some simple phrasing that should be fairly easy to remember.
1. Try changing minor to major
Move the basic lick up nine frets (or down five frets) to 14th position and you’ll be in the major pentatonic scale instead of the minor version. it’s a trick employed by countless blues guitarists.
2. Add target notes
You don’t have to stick to pentatonics – using notes outside of familiar scales is a great way to add colour. here we’re adding F# and B notes, neither of which are in the A minor pentatonic scale.
3. Change the style – country
We’re a long way from our original lick here, but listen closely and you’ll hear those diads in bar 1 outlining the main melody line before opening up for a country style cliché at the end.
4. Change the style - jazz
Selecting a neck pickup and playing with a swing feel, here we’ve produced a jazz version of our original lick. despite the swing feel and note changes, the phrasing should be familiar.