Every guitar player has an arsenal of go-to licks for the various genres they play. These are five of my favorite licks of the blues variety that I’ve picked up along my guitar journey. Each of them are original ideas inspired by some of my favorite guitar players, because in the end, it’s impossible not to be impacted by the musicians we look up to. That fact is one of my favorite things about music. May these five rippin’ blues licks serve you well!
The Guthrie Bendy Bend
This lick is harvested directly from the prodigal mind of Guthrie Govan. One of the greatest guitar players of our generation, Guthrie has somehow been able to master nearly every genre of music, and fuse other genres in ways that haven’t been done before. His acrobatic tendencies and leaping melodies are what paved the way for this lick. You might try drinking a pot or three of coffee before attempting this lick.
The Satriani Special
A timeless classic passed down from generations before him, this lick is certainly not any one person’s sole creation. However, Joe Satriani is one of the most bluesy virtuosos out there, and being that I’ve committed a substantial amount of my lifetime listening to Satch, I’m confident in saying this may be one of his staple signature blues styling’s. The key here is to ensure the first note is ringing throughout the first half of the lick. Try this one with your fingers to achieve a more natural feel.
The Rick Graham Flick
One of the scariest (in a good way) guitar players I’ve ever come across, Rick Graham has taught me a lot about what it means to truly master the guitar, as well as showed me how far I have yet to go. This tasty little move is dependent on executing the flick of your finger at the precise moment your initial bend falls a half step back toward where it came from. The included video in this article will be essential viewing to get the hang of this one.
The Twisted Triplets
What starts off as a blistering pull-off-centric lick reminiscent of my early days of screaming pentatonic sloppiness ends in a twist as the lick moves from minor to major tonalities. This is a great exercise in both timing and anticipation, as your fingers may end up tripping over themselves trying to reach the next string in the sequence. Practice this one slowly, then dial up the speed and it will be yours in no time.
My Happy Place
I still remember the accidental discovery of this lick. I was learning the positions of the minor pentatonic scale, and of course, I messed up a pattern. What came out was the sound of this lick–my happy place. I can’t pinpoint the guitar player who inspired this sound in my head, but I always searched for this “outside” sound, even before I knew anything about music theory. This lick is actually the exact same rhythm as The Twisted Triplets, but the difference is you should alternate pick this one instead of use pull-offs. I hope it brings you to a happy place.
If you enjoyed learning these riffs be sure to check out Music is Win for great guitar content. You can also check out my various guitar education courses like Guitar Super System, 5 Exotic Guitar Scales and How to Use Them Effectively, and finally my Best Beginner Guitar Course Ever.