Blues Licks

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Acoustic Guitar Notes

January 29, 2010

Building Blues Licks with Barre-Chord Shapes

I like to construct blues licks out of certain chord positions, and that’s exactly what I’ve done in the example below. I centered the riff here around a D barre chord that you would normally play at the tenth fret. If you break that chord into bite-size two-string phrases, you will find an infinite number of lick possibilities.

Music Example

Start out with a hammer-on from the minor third to the major third. Nothing spells blues like the dynamic tension between the major and minor third. Follow that with a bend on the second string from the 12th to the 13th fret. This bend (from the major 6th to the dominant 7th) always sounds great. You can get even more from this lick by delaying the bend or drawing it out.

By Pete Madsen

For more country-fried blues licks, check out Country Blues Guitar Basics, the new book and CD pack in the Acoustic Guitar Private Lessons series. Get started with the two fundamental styles of blues  fingerpicking, using alternating bass and monotonic bass. Play cool turnarounds. Move on to learning walking bass lines. Try your hand at slide guitar. Explore the essential sounds of country blues, as played by seminal guitarists such as Robert Johnson, Big Bill Broonzy, and Lightnin’ Hopkins. Listen to the CD to hear the groove and feel—so important in any blues style—and then try out these ideas in your own music. Buy this great guide to the basics quickly and easily at Country Blues Guitar Basics

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