10 Best Blues Guitar Licks (Vol. 1)

This new video guitar lesson series features some of the best guitar licks in the TrueFire library as voted on by our community. In this volume, we’re featuring 10 blues licks from top educators. See below for quick links, breakdowns, and more information:

Lick #1 – 0:03 – “If You Be” from Jeff McErlain’s 30 Sweet Blues Licks

— Breakdown w/ tab, notation, and jam track: https://truefire.com/v40648

Man, I love old Fleetwood Mac and Peter Green. I’ve learned so much from him and his playing. The song “If You Be My Baby” was particularly eye-opening for me. The song has a very strong main melody that plays against the horn line. The song is a D major blues and the melody is a textbook Peter Green approach of mixing both the major and minor pentatonic scales. Green often avoided the flatted 7th when soloing in favor of the natural 6th found in the major pentatonic scale. This definitely adds a “sweeter” sound than what we’ll hear a lot of in this course. This song can be found on the excellent Mr. Wonderful record released in 1968, a must have!

Lick #2 – 0:30 – “Blueski” from Jeff McErlain’s 30 Smokin’ Blues-Rock Guitar Licks

— Breakdown w/ tab, notation, and jam track: https://truefire.com/v38910

This is another tough lick at first, but like many licks, once you get the idea it becomes much easier to play. It has a certain feel to it that kinda takes over that’s really fun. This is similar to something Van Halen might do with that triplet swing feel and a blues scale. If you pay attention, you can hear that it’s a repeated descending melodic pattern using an Em blues scale.

Lick #3 – 1:03 – “Queen of Spades” from Mike Zito’s 30 Blues Americana Licks

— Breakdown w/ tab, notation, and jam track: https://truefire.com/v28571

Another Classic Robert Johnson lick and turnaround from the song “Little Queen of Spades.”

Lick #4 – 1:20 – “Etouffee” from Steve Trovato’s 50 Voodoo Blues Licks

— Breakdown w/ tab, notation, and jam track: https://truefire.com/v4151

This is a great lick that I stole from Robben Ford in a song called ‘Up the Line’. I love the groove and his feel is just magical. It’s based out of the blues scale but there are voodoo elements resolving to the major 3rd. This is a long lick and the rhythm is tricky so learn it in small pieces and practice it slowly.

Lick #5 – 1:51 – “Bona Massa” from Jay-P’s 30 Cutting-Edge Blues Licks

— Breakdown w/ tab, notation, and jam track: https://truefire.com/v44598

This blues lick is a Joe Bonamassa type of blues lick with a Stevie Ray Vaughan vibe. We’re in the key of G.

Lick #6 – 2:26 – “Signature Hammer” from Anthony Stauffer’s 50 Monster SRV Licks

— Breakdown w/ tab, notation, and jam track: https://truefire.com/v21751

Now we’re going to learn a hammer-on/pull-off combination that Stevie used a lot. While this is one of the most recognizable SRV’isms, in my opinion, it’s more important to master the previous segments before learning this one. If you don’t, it’s very easy to rely on this one lick as your fallback when you run out of ideas.

Lick #7 – 2:45 – “Out on the Lamb” from Jeff McErlain’s 50 Blues Guitar Licks

— Breakdown w/ tab, notation, and jam track: https://truefire.com/v4679

Where does good tone come from? The quest for that perfect tone, whatever that may be to you, may be found in an amp, guitar or pedals. It starts and ends with your hands, yes gear makes a difference but only after the work of sounding good has been put in. I find it funny, no matter what amp I play through, it still sounds like me just playing through a different amp. That being said, I love gear!

Lick #8 – 3:14 – “Real Mother” from Richard van Bergen’s 30 Down-Home Blues Licks

— Breakdown w/ tab, notation, and jam track: https://truefire.com/v673

If you want to hear mean and aggressive blues licks, Johnny Guitar Watson is your man! He played without a pick, using his index finger and thumb. This lick is played in G with the guitar capoed to the third fret. It fits the first four bars of a 12-bar blues. Jimmie Vaughan is the contemporary master in this style.

Lick #9 – 3:50 – “Classic SRV” from Corey Congilio’s 50 Texas Blues Guitar Licks

— Breakdown w/ tab, notation, and jam track: https://truefire.com/v4407

Blues players would almost always play minor pentatonic over major sounding songs. Stevie does this in the tune Lenny. This lick is out of the E minor pentatonic. There are some great slides and bends in this one.

Lick #10 – 4:40 – “Get Freed” from Corey Congilio’s 50 Progressive Blues Guitar Licks

— Breakdown w/ tab, notation, and jam track: https://truefire.com/v4348

This lick is from Audley Freed’s solo in Cry Of Love’s tune called Peace Pipe. That song was a #1 Billboard hit in 1993! Wow, hard to imagine that there was this level of great guitar playing in a #1 hit. I miss those days! The lick is in the key of B. There are some great double stops and bends in this one.

Check out more free blues guitar lessons at TrueFire!

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