Simple Blues Licks and Riffs For Lead Guitarists

next levelHave you always wanted to play bluesy licks like BB King and Eric Clapton? Many people have the misconception that these blues masters simply pick up the guitar and use the innate talent that they have to generate these wonderful sounds of music from their guitar.

This is not entirely true. If you do an interview with these gurus, they will reveal it is through hard work and practice that they make guitar playing on stage look like a breeze.

The good news is that you can create your own licks and riffs as well. But before that, you are required to have some prior knowledge on scales and music theory.

In this lesson, we have based it on the prior lesson on learning the minor pentatonic blues scale. If you haven’t read the lesson yet, be sure to backtrack there before reading this lesson.

Here Are a Few Licks Derived From the Scales

a simple riff

Download .mp3 file for audio example 18 ( Right-click Save Target as… )

This lick is typical of a slow blues music piece and can be used as an intro or part of a solo. The first thing to take note of about the lick is the bend at the 7th fret, 3rd string. This type of bend is very common in blues style licks.

If you are not used to bending strings, here are some guidelines for this lick to follow: This bend needs to raise the note by one whole step. This is equal to 2 frets on the guitar.

A good way to practice bends of this type is to listen to a target note and try to match it. In this case, play the target note at the 9th fret on the 3rd string first before striking the 7th fret.

Now, put your 3rd finger on the 7th fret 3rd string and your 2nd finger on the 6th fret 3rd string. Use both fingers to push the string upwards until it matches the pitch of your target note. You will find that the strings are easier to bend if you use two fingers to bend the note at the same time.

Your thumb should be over the top of the neck for added stability. For more details on string bending guitar technique, click here…

The lick ends with a bend at the 8th fret on the second string. Your target is the note on the 10th fret, 2nd string. Using the same technique described, try playing it correctly to see if you can the hang of things.

Here’s Your 2nd Exercise to Follow Up

riffs exercises

Download .mp3 file for audio example 19 ( Right-click Save Target as… )

Example 19 is like the first lick that Jimmy Page plays during the solo of Whole Lotta Love. In my opinion, this is blues scale being used at its finest. This lick also contains consecutive pull offs. They are marked with little arcs between the notes.

The idea of a pull off is to get two or more notes to sound by only picking the string one time. In this example you will be getting three notes to sound but you will only pick the string they are on once.

First, pick the note at the 8th fret, third string, then pull your little finger down towards the second string. I often tell people that a pull off should be called a pull down. If you pull your finger up off the string the second note (the one you are pulling off to) will not be loud enough or not heard at all.

3rd Exercise to Move Fluently Down the Fretboard

Blues Guitar Riff Exercise Lead Guitar Solo

Download .mp3 file for audio example 20 ( Right-click Save Target as… )

Example 20 utilizes the entire blues scale which starts from the top to the bottom and adds a couple of twists and turns. This exercise will help you become more confident of playing notes on the fretboard.

The Easiest System to Learn The Blues

blues jam session peter morales

If you always wanted to jam along to the blues and want to learn some neat tricks and improvisation techniques, check out Blues Jam Session today!

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