15 Essential Blues Guitar Licks | Absolute Blues Guitar | Skillshare
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6 Lessons (43m)
    • 1. 15 Essential Blues Guitar Licks Part 1 - Introduction

    • 2. 15 Essential Blues Guitar Licks Part 2 - Blues Rhythm Guitar

    • 3. 15 Essential Blues Guitar Licks Part 3 - About Blues Soloing

    • 4. 15 Essential Blues Guitar Licks Part 4 - Licks 1-7

    • 5. 15 Essential Blues Guitar Licks Part 5 - Licks 8-15

    • 6. 15 Essential Blues Guitar Licks Part 6 - Summary And Further Study

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About This Class


Probably The Most Valuable FREE Blues Guitar Lesson You’ll Ever Take - With TAB!

Bobby Harrison from Absolute Blues Guitar presents an in-depth blues guitar course with tab, standard notation fretboard diagrams two high quality backing tracks.

In this tutorial, we will learn 15 essential blues licks in the context of a 12 bar blues solo over a shuffle groove in the good old-fashioned key of A.

Our solo spans two choruses (twice around the 12 bar progression) and features many classic blues licks and phrases in the styles of B.B. King, Freddie King, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Albert King and Albert Collins. 

These 15 licks feature classic blues tonality, along with chord tones that really highlight the changes. These are all extremely usable ideas that you can incorporate into your own playing. Each lick breakdown features on-screen tab

In addition to learning the solo, we’re also going to cover a very cool rhythm guitar part that you can try out next time you find yourself at a blues jam.

For a full range of blues guitar lessons, featuring HD video tutorials, high quality backing tracks, tab, standard notation and fretboard diagrams, check out our website at www.absolutebluesguitar.com

Meet Your Teacher

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Absolute Blues Guitar

Learn to play blues guitar


If you want to play the blues with all of the feel and emotion of your favourite guitarists, Absolute Blues Guitar has you covered.

In addition to being an accomplished blues musician, Bobby Harrison is one of the UK's top session guitarists. Over the course of his almost 30 year career (so far!), he's privately tutored many guitar students who've gone on to become professional musicians and, as a live performer himself, he's played at some of the world's biggest and most prestigious venues with some of the top names in music, including Sir Cliff Richard, Brian May and Olivia Newton-John. 

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1. 15 Essential Blues Guitar Licks Part 1 - Introduction: - I think Bobby here on in this tutorial, we're gonna learn 15 essential blues licks. We're gonna learn them in the context. Off a 12 bar blues solo, it's ah, shuffle groove in the good old fashioned key of a people's favorite. We're going to be going around the 12 Bar Blues progression twice. Once around the 12 bar blues progression in the blues is often known as a chorus. Sometimes it's known as a verse. The terms verse and chorus are used interchangeably in the blues. All of the licks in the solo are extremely usable. They are licks that you condone. Just learn and throw into your own playing next time you find yourself a Jan night. So it's all kind of useful, kind of tasteful stuff on a swell as learning the solo, we're going to learn the rhythm guitar part and again, this is a very useful and usable rhythm guitar part that you can use next time You're a blues Janta accompany other musicians. So it's assumed that you have some prior knowledge of the fundamental techniques such a string bending librato. Perhaps some knowledge off the scales we're going to use now. We're gonna be using blues tonality in the key of a and by that I mean essentially, it's the overlay off the a minor pentatonic and the A major pentatonic scale. If I lose you with any of that terminology and even the fundamental techniques of string bending of the burrata and slides. If you go to absolute blues guitar dot com, we have four course that takes you from having never before picked up a guitar to be unable to play good blues in a short space of time. So that's well worth checking out. That's got full HD video lessons backing tracks, Tab, standard notation, fretboard diagrams. You name it everything you need to get playing the blues straight away, so that will be covered. But I'll try my best also to break down all of the licks. Note for note so I don't leave anything out for you. So without further ado, let's get tuned up and we're actually going to start by learning the riven guitar part before we move on to the solo 2. 15 Essential Blues Guitar Licks Part 2 - Blues Rhythm Guitar: And so the rhythm guitar part is a simple 12 bar blues shuffle in the key of A If you're already familiar with playing these 12 bar blues forms on, if you're confident that you actually picked up the court shapes always using just by watching that play through, then by all means go ahead and start getting into the actual lick tutorial. But for those of you who are new to this, we're following a typical 12 bar blues. So by that I mean, you know, breaking it down in a simpler form. We have 344 full of bars of a talking a play. In the meantime, one body, one booth, little turn around at the end that sorry, that was a little bit sloppy, but I was talking and playing at the same time, but I was just playing that kind of simple, that typical kind of Jimmy Reed say typical. It's great and effective, but that kind of Jimmy Reed style blues riff that you've probably heard so our a is our one chord D is our four chord On A is our five chord. You will hear 12 bar blues forms described in that way 145 on. It's just the number system is used just so you can take this information and you can apply it to other keys rather than saying a D and e you know, it would say 145 So a lot of blues harmony is based around seventh chords. So instead of just playing standard a de age, were actually playing a seven d seven e seven on din. This case, I'm actually substituting courts further. So instead of playing in a seven for a one chord, I'm actually playing this a six shape in a 12 bar blues of this style, The one chord could ever be a dominant seventh. It could be 1/9. It could be a six playing. In this case, it could be a 13. Some might argue that this six shape on playing is a 30 Now, if that theory is beyond you, don't worry about this stage is just that a six and a 13 is the same interval. That's all you need to know at this stage, so you may be familiar with this F shape on what I'm doing on basing this court around this first position f shape, but I'm shifting it up to the fifth fret. So in other words, I've got this partial bar across the fifth fret on the top two strings on, then six on the J seven on the day. And then I put my little finger on seven on the B string on, and I'll bring the farm over the top of the nectar. Fret, I note, but I'm not actually playing in this figure. Andi, The rhythm guitar pattern is actually 1234 I'm just playing stabs on. They are occurring on the 112 on the to end of the beach, 1 to 41234 So we're hitting the cord on. We're lifting the fingers off of the fretboard immediately afterwards to give it that really short kind of percussive stab 123 on our four chord. Instead of being a standard D or even the D seven, it's actually D nine, barring across the top of three strings on the fifth fret with my third finger and in my first finger that's 14 on the D string and in my third, so my second finger is on the fifth fret on the A string on It's the same rhythms to put them all together a two moments ever got 123461 court way. Do that for four bars. Way Got your four chord, which is at the line. Two balls on impact, a six on. Then we go to E nine just for one bar, and it's the same figure as we played for. The D nine moved up, two frets. So he nine one nine back to a and then we got this little It's not full turnaround. It's just a kind of tag. At the end of the bar, some people would call this a turnaround. The whole turnaround concept in the blues is a little bit more involved in this, but I would call that turn around. So what is? It's the same figure. It's the same court shape, but we're playing an F nine. So that's this. This same figure that we played for E nine. So we just move up one fret way, move it back down. So in other words, our root note is on the eighth. Fret on down to seven friend, so I'll just play the whole 12 bar blues sequence unaccompanied. So we start with this thing a six shape 1234 I'll call it one. No one called four bars, four called to about one called two bars and a five course one bar, four on a little turn around. So that's a very useful rhythm guitar figure that you can use a jam night that would just give you a bit more space. And you can really kind of sit in the pocket with the rest of the band. So I'm sure you're itching to get onto learning the licks in the solo, so we'll move on to that now. 3. 15 Essential Blues Guitar Licks Part 3 - About Blues Soloing: - So now it's time to learn the 15 licks in the solo on. I would strongly recommend that you listen to the solo as many times as you can to really internalize the phrasing. It's gonna make a lot more sense if you've just listen to a bunch of times so you can start to kind of hear where I'm going. So you're familiar with the phrase is I say this to all of my students, But in order to play the blues, you need to hear the blues on. In order to hear it, you need to listen to a lot of it. So you know it's worth while putting together a playlist of your favorite blue songs and just listening to everywhere you go and you really start to internalize the styles. Jimi Hendrix famously said The blues is easy to play but hard to fill now, probably paraphrasing a little bit, and in fact, it may. It may be a quote attributed to somebody else and not Jimmy, but it's a famous phrase, and it's very true. You know, A lot of people think that the blues is it's an easy style of music to play because We're limited to the scale choices and no choices. But it's all about phrasing. It's all about things like call and response on question and answer phrasing off which there are lots of licks of that style in this solo. There's a lot of repetition because you really want when you're phrasing when you're playing a let you really want to hook the listener so you don't just want to be running up the scale and playing a bunch of random notes on in actual fact, while we're on the subject of Scales. As I mentioned in the intro, most of our atonality is coming from the A minor pentatonic scale on the A major pentatonic scale, and it's the overlay of two harmonies Now. Each of those scales has five positions. If you're familiar with the Cage system has five positions over the neck, which is beyond the remit of this tutorial. But if you're looking Teoh, absorb the information and to find out about the scales and to learn the scales, then it's all available on the website. Absolute blues guitar dot com. We've got four tutorials and fretful diagrams of all the scales you ever gonna need to play the blues, so you may see me sneaking into different positions. But most of my notes will be coming from these two scales combined. However, there will be some court tone ideas now again that the whole we've got a really deep subject on court turns on the website. But cool tones are essentially playing the notes in the chords that we happen to be playing over. So I'm not just playing. I'm not just picking random notes from these two scales. My note choice will change depending on which cord I happened to be soloing over. So I might be choosing different notes on the one chord, different notes on the four chord that aren't technically in this scale framework, you know, really highlighting the notes in that court. The roots the third, the 5th 7th on the same for the five chord. So it's known in jazz circles is playing the changes, and it it just gives you more sophistication in your in your note choices while still sounding bluesy. Now, if that goes over your head, it's all explained on the website, but I thought I'd get out of the way before we break down the solo, so we're going to start with Lick number one 4. 15 Essential Blues Guitar Licks Part 4 - Licks 1-7: so, like number one Slowly. 123 So it's a very common blues runnin or lead into play this kind of figure. So that's five hammer on 26 on the G thing. We've got this partial bar without first finger on the fifth fret. So that's five on the B five on the high. And then we have this Grace notes slide from eight to 10 on the B string. So Grace note is where you play two notes pretty much in the space of where you play. One note. So it's just a quick slide. We give it some vibrato and we pull off to eight back onto 10. So and then we have this another Grace note from 8 to 9 on the High Street and what that's doing, That's 1/4 tone. I'm actually highlighting the third of the court there for your theory, but among you want to 33 and you may see me applying hybrid picking. And by that I mean I'm using the pick on the fingers combined. I'm not gonna break that down because it sounds equally effective, just picking or just with fingers, and it's just my personal style Andi. I've never really kind of broken it down. It's something that kind of just occurs naturally and happens randomly. So look out for that. I generally tend to. I kind of snapped that high e string, not not snapping in half, but just play it with my middle finger just to give it that percussive snap. So let's look at liquor number two. Number 2123 It starts the same as Lick number one is that Is that leading Want Teoh? So it's just this little tag at the end. So if we get far is this You should know this and then we go to 10 pull off to eight wannabe and then we have this Grace notes slide again from nine down to seven on the G on. Then we pick up this double stop so that some first finger on the fifth fret on the B string. Onda second finger on the sixth fret on the G, but we're approaching it from one fret below, slide into it and what I'm doing, their core tone wise. I'm actually highlighting the third on the fifth of the one chord. All of this harmony at the moment is taking place over one court. So put in those two licks together, you start to see what I meant about repetition on call and response, and this happens all the time in blue. So we've got to quite similar sounding licks. But if this is a musical question like Number 1123 Number two is a musical, a musical answer or musical response on that happens as I say all the time and blues, you get licks that will repeat, and there'll be a variation on each lick. And don't stray away from that in your phrase. And that is really the essence of blues on a very musical way to solo, regardless of the style of music you play. So let's move on to lick number three now. So like number three, slowly want Teoh allow Harmony is now taking place over the four chord on highlighting court owns within this D nine chord, so it's set wide to So we start on the fifth fret of the B string way have this Grace note slide from six up to seven on the B three and five on the and in 75 on the high e string e . I did at my second finger. The ones that rhythm way have this this kind of hammer on pull off lik this little role so that some all on their highest ring seven hammer onto a pull off. Seven. Pull off five on in seven on the B, back to five on high and then Hammer to seven. Number four is just a very common blues, Ben. Quite aggressive. So that's, uh, we're bending up on the eight forever in that whole step, snapping it hopefully not in half, but snapping it with the middle finger that's on the ate fresh playing again on the highlight. But season. It's slightly sharp on, then landing on five on the high E string and just given its, um, Brooke for Baratta on Top it off with her, which is a little double stop. So that's Ah, partial bar between seven on the G, seventh on things figure again, this double stop figure. So it's five on the B six on the G, but we approach it from one fret below, so it's just very kind of punchy, you know, almost where rhythm and lead guitar crossover you get a lot of double stops in the blues. That really kind of helped punctuate your solos. Lick number 51 Teoh thought. This is where our five chord occurs for the first time and again, I'm really playing into the harmony of that court. So it's seven on the A string 47 on the day, back to seven on the thing. I have this great snowslide. You get a lot of grace note slides in the blues. Very expressive way to play. So it's three great stop slide to fall on, then seven on the day. This is all on the day on then, and that's five on the G. You want teas that slightly sharp to get a blue, noting on then seven on the day. So put it all together. It's 123 Number six. Want to three. Ah ah, really triplet style lick And we're in this in the a blue scale box, so we want to bend on the G string on seven friend, but not a whole step on. Then we've got this partial bar again. That's five Be five, and then it's Ah, eight on the B pull off 25 way have this surfaces out our flat 50. That's eight on the G. Pull off the seven. Pull off to fire back Teoh seven on a G way. Pick up this double stop again. Thats happens quite a lot. E think on the play through. I might have just played the one those, but I probably meant to dio, That's five the six g but we pick it up from we approach it from one fret below on back to our roots, which is seven under the stream. We actually played at twice because that sets us up for lick number seven. So 71 very typical lose turn around. Now that is a proper turnaround. Mentioned Turnarounds earlier. So it's you wanna anchor your fourth finger on the fifth fret on the high e string. Just leave it there on we're walking down on the D string. So we've got five things is where some hybrid picking comes in handy. So five D five high for the five e. Three d. Three d five. On the downside to on the day on that, we're just playing the chords that we played on the rhythm guitar part, so f nine e nine. If you skip the rhythm guitar part and you're unsure of those chord shapes and just go back . And so that's how first chorus That's our 1st 12 bar section giving us seven licks. Let's move on to chorus to now and lick number eight. 5. 15 Essential Blues Guitar Licks Part 5 - Licks 8-15: I think three. So liquor number eight moves into what a lot of people refer to as the BB box or the B B King box. It's a place on the neck where we haven't strayed from the tone. Ality off the major and minor pentatonic scales were still using legitimate notes within those scales, but it's an area in the next. Theo BB was famously known to spend a lot of time and get a lot of mileage and expression out in his plane on you find that you get a lot of mixture of major and minor turn ality in this area of the neck. Now again, it's beyond the remit of this tutorial to fully explain the baby box, but it is covered on the website Absolute blues guitar dot com, and I'll keep plugging site. But the information is there. We have a grace note slide on the G string, Um, from 9 to 11 kind of rocking back between 11 g on 10 B says 11 10 11 10 on the G B strength . We want to hit a bunch of times 123 that's 10 on the beat and then it's 11 g back to 10 days that river 123 on. Then we have this kind of partial bend. So you want to get your first finger on 12 on the high on your second finger on 13. On the beach on you're teasing the B string, leaving the high e string where it is. But leak. Teasing the B string slightly sharp for this double stop way, punctuated with this cord, which is a voicing for on a nine chord. On what? There is a walking through it one finger at times. The first finger on the 14th fret on the B second finger on this 16th. Fret on the G third finger on the 17th fret on the D string and forefinger on 17 on the high e. So that's the Freddie King called. You may have heard that shape. It's just playing in a s. So we just strike and slide it down like number 91233 Now I did say there's a lot of repetition in the blues, and this is a very good example. This phrase starts the same as the previous phrase. So those up until that point, this is that the same. I don't need to break that down again for you. Hopefully, then way move into this other part of the baby box. So that certain 12. 10 on the high A on depend I commend 1/2 step whole step thing. I've been 1/2 step, but it's gonna be in key on this particular note over the one court. So that's 12 on the B streak end up. Ah, half step on in 12 on the b un bent back toe 10 on the baby on a hammer on back, Teoh 12 again way in the baby box again and we approach it the same way as we did for the previous two licks. So that's 11 11 on a G 10 bay that's Ah, 12 on high a. Bend up the whole state and then back to 12. Unb ent On the day I want to hit 10 on the B string, twice thin. That's 11 g 10 b thing so that some 13 on the B but just tease it slightly shocked on in 10 Teoh 12 on high on Bend. Uh, it's a whole step this time. 12 on the B 10 on the be So then that's 12. Hi, eight on intent, twice on the B string. So so once again, just to reiterate if the licks sound odd to you out of context, go back and listen to the solo a bunch of times just, you know, really kind of internalized phrasing. So liquor number 11 free for a long one. It's quite a lot of movement, So this is all mainly based around the A minor pentatonic scale, but with a major third phone in because harmonically were playing on the one chord cool tones again. So it's ah, Grace note. Hammer. This happens a couple of times from 8 to 10 on the B string, pulling off again. Teoh thing. We have this almost immediate. Grace Notes slide from nine down to seven on the G way. Pick up this famous double stop again, so it's a four b five G and then slide up. It's not a grace note this time. It's actually in that room. Slide up one friend and then seven on the D string on. Then we have this almost immediate Grace notes slide once more on the A string, and it's seven down. Teoh five and then three. A grace note. Hammer tol major Third, which is on four on the A strings. They're putting it all together very slowly. Want Teoh for one like Number 12 123 So at this point in the solo where approaching or we're playing over a five hour five chord. So we're really playing into the harmony in the court. Turns of that court way. Start with five on the B way have again a grace note. Slide from 8 to 9 on the Be thin That's 7 to 9 on the Eastern on. Then we have this. That's 8 to 9 again on a baby. It's not grace. Note this time on and then nine. Apology. The fingering is a little bit weird again. I'll leave the fingering up to you. I'm going, Theo, you know, kind of jumping the fingers over each other because it's a bit of a position. She that really highlights the 5/4 happen into this point. Theo. So lick number 13 Theo. Very similar to the previous lick, very similar to a lick we looked at in the first chorus. Slight difference here. There's a double stop in there so which is a very kind of T Bone Walker type thing or Chuck Berry thing. Even so, that's five on the B on. Then we've got a Grace note slide from 6 to 7 on a base on five. High on, then that's seven. Back to five way. Have this really nasty. I love this. It's just screams blues to me. Oh, that's, Ah, seven on the baby on eight on the High E and you want to tease them both slightly sharp for going back to five on the theme. And then we have this great snowslide again from 6 to 7 on the baby on in Finishing Off the Root. Note. Five on the High E String Theory theme number 14 123 So Lick Number 14 is another turnaround lick, and this is heavily inspired by B B King E O. A little bit slower. Three for Theo. So that's Ah, five slides. Six on a G on Invests 57 on the baby back to five. On the way. Have same river. That's six. Slide Teoh. Seven on the B 357 on High thing on them. That's five on the highway again, but you want to hit that Teoh finish it with. At this point, back in track is doing this. So we're going into our five court. So we're actually playing actually finishing on this, you know, which is the root of our five chords so that some eight on the B string teas that slightly shot and then five on the base number 15 that is a legitimate blues lick. As simple as it sounds, it's just one note, but it's probably one of the most famous blues licks its a B B King trademark. It's something that he used really effectively to punctuate Phrases on what it involves is an over burrata or anything. You just take the highest root note. In this case, acres were in the key of a but if he was in the kids, see it be playing C note on. Do you rake into it? I'm grabbing it here on the 17th fret on high on. I'm raking into it and then you just slide down over Barato. So it's not It's not this. It's just let it drop and you can actually hear the frets. So what I'm doing, I'm breaking into I'm actually muting the strings I don't need with the fleshy part of my second finger, so you can really give it a good old break on the The only note you want to sound is the 17th fret on the highway. Just let it drop. That's like number 15 1 No simple and effective. 6. 15 Essential Blues Guitar Licks Part 6 - Summary And Further Study: so they have it. 15 essential blues licks. Hopefully, you enjoyed this tutorial, and you found some useful licks that you can incorporate into your own playing next time you're a jam night. Now we have a four blues course over absolute blues guitar dot com Onda. Here's a quick word about it so you can find out more. Cheers, guys. I'll see you next time, Theo. If you've ever wanted to play the blues with all the emotion of your favorite guitarists, or if you're keen to join in a jam night and just need a bit more confidence, absolute blues guitar has you covered. We offer an immersive course on whether you're a beginner or an experience player. We're committed to making an authentic blues guitarist out of you. Everything we teach is broken down. Note the note written out in Tab and standard notation on, accompanied by high quality backing tracks. We give you a little tools. You need to play classic blooms and beyond. There really is nothing missing. My name's Bobby Harrison. I'll be your teacher, and I'm very much looking forward to seeing inside. Here's a brief taste of what you can expect to learn from our course way, way Hope you enjoyed this preview. Let's start planes and real blue