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The TRUTH about Learning Guitar
Improve Your Skills > Blues/Rock > The Most Essential Rock Lick

The Most Essential Rock Lick

The "7 Essential Licks"

from the Guitar Principles "Rock & Blues Electric Foundation Course"

In my first 25 years of teaching rock guitar, I isolated the key moves from the Pentatonic Scale that must be mastered before the door would be open for playing real rock licks in a professional manner. I found that these key moves were never taught in isolation as they need to be, and certainly not with all the micro-details that must be known and appreciated before that move could be played easily, and fluidly. I call these moves "The 7 Essential Licks".




Here is Essential Rock Lick #1:




Essential Lick # 1

Like most of the really important things in life, the importance of this essential lick is largely ignored because of the very fact that it is so simple. It is taken for granted, and not given proper attention. No student is going to get very excited by being given just two notes to practice, or so goes the thinking of most guitar teachers. The fact is that mastering those two notes will be a major step forward toward mastering larger and more complex licks. Conversely, when students have trouble with the solos they play, it is because these essential moves are not second nature to the fingers.

 Essential Lick # 1

This lick may look rather simple, but there are a whole lot of things that we have to pay attention to when we play it in order to make it sound like it is supposed to sound. Here are the steps to follow.....

To Perform Lick #1:

  1. Bring the hand to the 12th fret, and approach the neck with the hand in bending position, ready to place the fingers down in a slanted manner, as if ready to do a bend with the 3rd finger.
  2. Place the 1st finger on the 2nd string, 12th fret.
  3. Place fingers 2 & 3 on the 3rd string. You now have 3 fingers down.
  4. Hold the 1st finger in place on the 2nd string, and play the 3rd string note. Let it ring for a moment, and then begin to bend the 14th fret of the 3rd string with both fingers 2 & 3. Bend it up a whole step, so it sounds like the note 2 frets higher.
  5. As you bend, make sure the 1st finger does not move with the 2nd string. It must remain dead still as the bend goes up, as if that finger were nailed to the fingerboard. It will want to move, but if it does, the pitch of that note will change, and the lick will be ruined.
  6. As you bend, watch the pick. Most people tense their pick hand in reaction to the effort required for the bend. They actually tighten their grip on the pick, and what is much worse, tense their wrist and pull the pick away from the strings! DO NOT DO THAT! Do the opposite. Watch the pick and relax the pick hand while bending, and carefully bring the pick past the next string with the same motion that you played the bend, and leave the pick waiting under the string during the bend, waiting to do its up pick at the right time.
  7. After the bent note has been bent up all the way (a whole step), let it ring for a moment, and then play the 2nd string note with an up-pick. As you do, let go of the 3rd string, but keep it quiet- it will make a lot of noise when you let go, unless you do 2 things:

    Let it go gently, lifting the fingers slightly so the sound stops, and the fingers deaden the string as they lift.

    Mute the lower string with the side of the hand if necessary as you play the 2nd note.



    More Info!

    Finally, there is a course that shows you what you REALLY need to know to be good on electric guitar....

    Scales - all 5 Minor Pentatonic Scales with GOOD, sensible, and usable fingering (unlike what is found in most methods) Bending & Vibrato - The inside details on the mechanics of a good bending and vibrato, and practice routines that will enable you to master this essential skills.
    Licks - THE essential licks from each scale with detailed video explanations, fingering, pick strokes, etc. Muting, Damping, and Raking - Practice routines for developing string muting, string damping, and string raking.
    Theory - The music theory behind the Pentatonic Scales. You will understand why certain notes get bent, why certain notes sound bluesy and good, and how to use each note of the scale in a musical way. NO NOTE READING NECESSARY! Solos - A solo for each scale, illustrating the use of each lick, PLUS audio and video, FAST and SLOW with detailed verbal explanations and visual demonstrations of not just what the licks look and sound like, but how to train your fingers to do it too!
    Technique - All you need to know about the micro-details of finger action when playing Pentatonic Scales & Licks. This information is NEVER given in existing instructional materials. You will learn Proper Hand & Finger Positions for all situations, as well as the details of Finger Movement in scales and licks.


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