Good licks can add flare, excitement and drama to your solos. If you ever expect to play lead and thoroughly grab your listeners attention, you absolutely need to know a bunch of licks...
WHAT IS A GUITAR LICK?
A guitar lick is a phrase (a short musical idea) that is made up of a series of well placed notes, often easy to use repetitively, and ones that you can incorporate into your soloing and improvisation. You can also see a lick as a small part, or as a "fragment," of an entire solo.
Learning, memorizing, dissecting, rebuilding and incorporating licks into your playing is a great investment in your guitar study process. It will enhance, expand and upgrade your soloing in many ways.
There can be a wide variety of licks, so much so it is almost infinite. They come in all shapes and sizes, styles, moods, tempos, timings, keys and levels of playing, so it’s important that you learn why and how to use them in a solo.
MAIN REASONS YOU NEED TO LEARN LICKS:
Build technique and dexterity
Licks are perfect training tools to develop the dexterity and flexibility you need to able to solo and improvise.
Add a familiar inspiration to your ideas
Learning new licks will lead to inspiration and more even musical ideas. You learn licks and then learn from the licks. You use the notes, turn them around, upside down, take some notes out of the licks, put some new ones in and create your own ideas from those licks. Licks act as soloing /lead guitar input to create even greater output!
Build a vocabulary
You can understand licks as words to build sentences. Building a vocabulary of fancy, cruel, light hearted, fast, slow, elegant, brutal, daring and lovely licks will give you the freedom to express yourself.
With well developed phrasing, you can determine the emotion of those words to create an exciting story line.
Learn and understand new musical insights
Now and then you’ll learn a new lick that will make your mind explode. It will give you insight in different ways to shape melody and bring new life to your improvisation.
It could be a great timing or phrasing idea that will open up new doors within your soloing. Also, observing and analyzing the licks of your favorite guitar player will give an idea of the style, techniques and musical approach.
Licks allow a player to sound original and fresh
Learn different kinds of licks from different styles of music like blues, rock, jazz, latin, country, classical and heavy metal to disect, rebuild and incorporate them into your soloing.
Influences from different guitar players and musical styles will go a long way to make your soloing sound fresh, bold and interesting to listen to.
Better grasp how to apply soloing ideas in a scale
Each scale pattern has it’s own mood, charm and way of soloing. Licks can give you ideas how to use a particular scale for improvisation and how to create great melodies and produce cool sounds with /from that scale.
HOW TO USE GUITAR LICKS
It’s great to learn and build a vocabulary of licks, but you need to do more than just practicing licks for the sake of practicing. You want to know how to use them properly to get the most out of your licks.
Know the scale and the key
Knowing the scale and the key of a lick is essential to incorporate the lick into your playing. Know it and you can apply it. Practice a lick and the scale that goes with it.
Learn your licks in every key
Learning licks in different keys is really important. Don’t assume when you’ve learned a lick you can automatically play it in every key. Licks feel different when you go higher up or lower down the neck. Learn your lick in different positions to get comfortable around the entire fret-board.
Copy and dissect
Copy licks from every guitar player you know, but don’t copy them verbatim. Rip them apart, leave out notes, add other notes, use hammer-ons, pull-offs, slides, vibrato, bending and create your own sounds, melodies and ideas from those licks.
Connect and combine
Practice connecting and combining your licks with other licks and ideas. Learn how to glue your musical phrases together. This is the key to creating an entire solo and to being able to improvise.
Practice with jam tracks
Once you know how to play a particular lick, start practicing it over a backing track to work on timing, tempo, feel and rhythm. Knowing how to play a lick and playing it over a backing track are two different things. Practice them both!
Incorporate the licks
If you don’t apply your licks to the fingerboard in songs, they will soon vanish into thin air and you will forget what you’ve learned. Incorporate your licks into your daily soloing and improvisation practice. Make it a habit to learn and apply. This is the only way to make them stick in your mind!
If you want to learn licks and how to make them your own, connect them together, play them in the right key, fit them to the appropriate scales, positions and apply them to soloing and improvisation then check out my popular YouTube lessons listed below:
Creating Original Guitar Licks
Ways to Play Guitar Riffs and Licks
Using Scale Patterns to Find Licks
Converting Licks into Musical Phrases
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