You are currently viewing Unlock The Secrets of Jaw-Dropping Blues Guitar Licks (aka. How to Use)

Last Updated on February 8, 2024 by Teemu Suomala

#1 thing. Do these both: Learn blues guitar licks and how to use them. If you skip either one, you will handicap yourself. This article teaches you how exactly to use blues guitar licks like a pro (plus gives you some licks). This article teaches you more blues guitar licks.

photo reveals owner of guitaristnextdoor.com

Author: Teemu Suomala

I first grabbed the guitar in 2009. I started this website in January 2020 because I couldn’t do window installation anymore due to my health problems. I love guitars and have played dozens and dozens of different guitars through different amps and pedals over the years, and also, building a website interested me, so I decided to just go for it! I got lucky and managed to get awesome people to help me with my website.

I also got lucky because I have you visiting my website right now. Thank you. I do all this for you guys. If you have any recommendations, tips, or feedback, just leave a comment, I would love to chat with you. I have also been fortunate to produce content for several large guitar websites, such as SongsterrMusicnotesGuitarGuitar, and Ultimate Guitar.

I spend my spare time exercising and hanging out with my wife and crazy dog (I guess that went the right way…).

Unlocking the Blues Scale

The one scale to rule them all. This isn’t just any old scale; it’s your ticket to jaw-dropping, toe-tapping, dog-howling blues guitar licks that’ll make your neighbors think you’ve traded your day job for a smoky dive bar stage. Sounds good to me…

The Six-Note Secret

The blues scale is like the Swiss Army knife in your guitar toolkit—it’s versatile, indispensable, and fits snugly in your denim jeans pocket. This bad boy is made up of six notes: the root, minor third, fourth, flat fifth, fifth, and minor seventh.

Here’s a quick breakdown in table form for you visual learners, here we are talking about C Minor Blues Scale:

NoteIntervalStep
CRoot1
EbMinor thirdb3
FFourth4
F#Flattened fifthb5
GFifth5
BbMinor seventhb7

But heck…this sounds like theory…this is like ancient Hebrew for guitar players!

Do not worry. I will translate all this to form us normal guitarist can understand it and use it immediately. Of course, I’m talking about Tab form:

e|————————————–8-11-

B|———————————8-11——

G|————————8-10————–

D|—————-8-10———————-

A|——–8-10——————————

E|-8-11————————————-

Now, don’t let the “minor” tags fool you. This scale will MAJORLY upgrade your playing. (To me it’s like drinking major health potions in Skyrim, I could slay dragons all day while drinking those, haha). But there’s more…some real blues magic coming your way…

The Magic of the Blue Note

Ah, the blue note—the heart and soul of the blues scale. As Justin Guitar croons, it’s the b5th degree that gives the blues its unmistakable sound, like barbecue sauce on ribs. Slide this little gem into any major or minor pentatonic scale, and presto, you’ve got yourself a bluesy vibe that’ll have your audience nodding their heads in rhythm.

Here’s where it sits on the scale you just learned (Blues C Minor):

e|———————————————8-11–

B|—————————————8-11——–

G|——————————–8-10————–

D|————————8-10———————-

A|————8-9-10——————————–

E|-8-11———————————————-

Fret 9 on A string is our secret sauce addition. It’s the blue note F#.

Why I revealed you all this? Just to be a boring expert guitar teacher? Nope.

Here’s the reason: Now you can just grab your axe, some blues guitar backing tracks (in this key in key of C), and start bending those strings like you’re making them confess their deepest secrets. In simple terms, you have the tools to CREATE blues licks, not just copy, you can create them. All you need is to start using this stuff.

And this if also how you learn how to USE blues guitar licks like a pro. Excited? You should be.

But of course, we can take something from the greatest blues masters too. That’s what we investigate next. So turn on your detective mode (like Batman) and let’s go.

Mastering Iconic Licks

I’ve got the heart of a hobbyist but the ambition to play like the legends. So, let’s grab a guitar, and get cracking on some iconic licks that have shaped the blues genre.

Bend It Like B.B.

The king of blues guitar, B.B. King, made his Lucille sing with some of the most expressive bends known to the guitar world. The secret sauce to B.B.’s sound lies in the subtlety of his vibrato and the precision of his bends.

To get that B.B. King vibe, you’ll want to start with a bend on the third string, targeting the sweet spot right between the minor and major third. Remember, it’s all about finesse—no need to show off your muscles here, just let your fingers do the smooth talking.

You could emulate a classic B.B. lick like this:

e|———————————————-|

B|———————————————-|

G|—12b(14)—r12—10——————–|

D|———————12—-12-10–12—–|

A|——————————————-13|

E|———————————————–|

(b = bend, r = release)

Stevie’s Vibrating Swagger

Stevie Ray Vaughan was a master of making his Stratocaster strut with style. His licks often combined raw power with speed and amazing vibrato that could make a grown man cry. To capture Stevie’s swagger, you’ll need to get comfortable with using vibrato,all while keeping that Texas-sized tone.

Slide into a lick like this to channel Stevie’s vibrato spirit:

e|--------------------------
B|--------------------------
G|-----------------12b14~~~12
D|-------------12-----------
A|-------12h14--------------
E|-12h14--------------------


Clapton’s Creamy Combos

Eric Clapton’s playing is smoother than a spoonful of English clotted cream. Clapton often combines multiple techniques, such as hammer-ons, pull-offs, vibratos, and tasteful bends, to create licks that are both melodic and expressive.

To get a taste of Clapton’s style, mix these elements in a lick that would make Slowhand proud:

e|———————————————————|

B|———————————————————|

G|–14h16p14~~~b16r14—14~~~16b(18)-|

D|——————————-16———————-|

A|———————————————————|

E|———————————————————|

(h = hammer-on, p = pull-off, b = bend, r = release)

As you practice these licks, remember to infuse your own flavor. After all, the blues is about expressing your own story, not just mimicking others. Keep at it, and you’ll be dishing out blues guitar licks that resonate with the soul of the greats.

How transform into a Party Jukebox everyone Admires in 5 days?

Your Blues Guitar Gym

Just like hitting the weights to sculpt those biceps, mastering savory blues guitar licks requires a solid regimen and a whole lot of soulful sweat. Let’s dive into your personal blues guitar gym, where you’ll tone your technique and flex your fretboard muscles. Get ready to pump up those musical gains and become the envy of your jam buddies!

Lick Practice Regimen

Alright, you guitar-slinging powerhouse, it’s time to get those fingers flying with a disciplined lick practice regimen. Start by picking out a set of blues licks that make B.B. King’s Lucille purr with envy. 

Our own blues master DL Shepherd recommends 7 different blues licks here, check them out and fit them into your workout plan.

In this table I higligh what key aspects of blues licks you could practice daily or at least weekly:

Focus
Bending
Sliding
Double Stops
Vibrato
Hammer-ons/Pull-offs
Combining Techniques
Rest Day

When you practice, don’t just go through the motions; feel the groove, pay attention to the details, and make each note count.

Improv Workouts

Now that you’ve got a handle on the licks, it’s time for some improv workouts. Think Rocky Balboa, but with six strings. Start by laying down a groove with some blues guitar backing tracks. Then, unleash your inner blues beast and let those licks fly!

Begin with a warm-up, noodling around the blues guitar scales you’ve been practicing. Once you’re feeling limber, it’s time to get serious. Set a timer for 10 minutes and improvise over a backing track, focusing on fluidity and expression. Don’t be shy about tossing in bends, slides, and those sultry vibratos you’ve been working on.

ExerciseDurationFocus
Noodling Warm-up10 minsExploring Scales
Timed Improv10 minsLick Integration
Call and Response10 minsMusical Conversation
Speed Challenge5 minsPlaying Faster Licks

Wrap up your session with a call-and-response drill. Play a lick, then answer it with some improvisation, creating a musical conversation between you and the track. The goal here is to build your musical vocabulary and responsiveness—one lick at a time.

Conclusion

Man. There you go. You got everything you need, plus more to start mastering and creating blues guitar licks. Now, you only need 1 thing. Action. Do that now and thank me later. See ya!

Teemu Suomala

I first grabbed the guitar in 2009. I started this website in January 2020 because I couldn’t do window installation anymore due to my health problems. I also noticed that most guitar websites don’t do a really good job, so I decided to just go for it! I got lucky and managed to get awesome people to help me with my website. I also got lucky because I have you visiting my website right now. Thank you. I do all this for you guys. If you have any recommendations, tips, or feedback, just leave a comment, I would love to chat with you. I have been fortunate to produce content for several large guitar websites, such as Songsterr, Musicnotes, GuitarGuitar, and Ultimate Guitar. I spend my spare time exercising and hanging out with my wife and crazy dog(I guess that went the right way…). Expertise: guitar learning techniques, electric guitars, and guitar amplifiers. You can connect with me on LinkedIn or just email me.
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