TrueFire's Guitar Blog

4 Sweet Blues Guitar Licks You MUST Know

These 4 free guitar lessons are from Jeff McErlain’s 30 Sweet Blues Licks You MUST Know. You’ll not only majorly stoke up your lick vocabulary, you’ll also learn how to target those sweet notes, and combine major and minor pentatonic scales, over major blues changes.

Jeff will show you soulful intros, how to mix major and minor scales for great turnarounds, rocking double-stops, classic southern rock licks, sweet sounding jazzy lines, how to superimpose a diminished 7th arpeggio over a IV chord, how to outline the changes on classic blues turnarounds, how to add the fourth to your major pentatonic line for a sweet sophisticated sound, and dozens of other very versatile “sweet” blues licks.

Sweet Blues Guitar Lick #5: Smooth G

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“Smooth G” is a lick in the style of my friend Robben Ford. Yup, I name dropped. Robben’s impact on modern blues is immense, his impact on me as a player has been huge as well. What I love about his playing the most is how smooth he is. This lick is similar to something he’d play along with those tricky position changes.

At the heart of it, we’re really just outlining a G7 chord, all the rest of the notes are just “filler” in a way. That’s the way I look at much of my soloing, and I know Robben does as well: We know the chord and we play around it.

Sweet Blues Lick Guitar #7: How Blue Are You?

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Here is the intro to BB Kings tune “How Blue Can You Get”. Man, this one is awesome. I learned it fairly recently and was totally amazed at what was going on harmonically and nuance wise. His use of dynamics and bends on this lick was really fun to explore. Please check out the original version of this lick to hear the master at work.

Basically, the lick is just made up of a D and G major triad if you break it down. If we look carefully, we see that he’s playing the D triad on the D7 chord and the G triad on the G7 chord. Imagine that?!

Sweet Blues Lick Guitar #25: Blues Breaker

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OK, this one is difficult and long, but awesome and well worth your time. The lick basically is what Eric Clapton plays on the turnaround on Freddie KIng’s “Hideaway” (give or take) from the Bluesbreakers record. There is a lot of history in this lick, drawing from Freddie King, Little Walter, and others. I suggest checking out those guys as you work through this course as well. You can see that EC is outlining each of the changes on the turnaround on this E blues. Work on each lick individually before moving on to play the turnaround as a whole, as there’s a lot going on here. Also realize that you can steal any one of these individual licks and use them accordingly. That’s what everyone does!

Sweet Blues Lick Guitar #28: C Bends

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Here’s a tricky one where I’m sounding chord tones from a note below via bending. This is a very, very cool technique to get under your fingers as it adds a whole other dimension to note articulation and expression. I’ve spent a lot of time working on this, and continue to as it’s so important. Take your time to make sure each bend is in tune, which may seem easy, but believe me, it’s not! But, it’s fun as all get out to work on, and the payoff is immense.

Two players that were very influential to me who use this technique quite a bit are Jeff Beck and Roy Buchanan. Come to think of it, David Gilmour of Pink Floyd uses this technique quite a bit as well. By bending to a note from a half step below, we can get a full control over the pitch, which helps add an emotional element not achievable through a fretted note alone.

Dig these Sweet Blues Licks guitar lessons? Download Jeff McErlain’s 30 Sweet Blues Licks You MUST Know for much more including tab, notation, and jam tracks!