Blues-Rock Lick

Another blues-rock lick for your guitar repertoire.

Below is the tab for this lick, divided into sections. You’ll notice that Fig 1 is repeated in bar 3. I’m playing this at 100bpm, so I’d recommend playing slower than this at first, (it’s fine to play at any speed to begin with, no matter how slow, then work your way up to 100bpm, maybe even up to 130bpm.)

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Here’s a backing track for this exercise, but a bit faster than I’m playing it in the vid.

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Intermediate String Bends

This is a staple blues / rock / metal trick that you will have heard at some point as a listener. If you need to, refresh your memory on the Bm scale and the ideas outlined in my first String Bending lesson.

For the first bend you’ll want your first finger fretting the target pitch, which is at the 9th fret of the B string. Your second or third finger will start on the 7th fret of the G string.

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In the example below, notice that the letter “b” is used to indicate a string bend, and the number that appears in brackets next to it is the location of the pitch you’re aiming for. This is what we call a Full-Tone Bend.

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Here you’ll want your first finger fretting the target pitch again, which is the 9th fret of the E string. This time your third or fourth finger will start on the 8th fret of the B string.

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This is the same deal as the previous bend, it’s just taking place on a different fret. You can also apply some vibrato once you’ve hit your target pitch, as indicated by the “v”.

tumblr_mx1q7ykHDY1rvyc2jo3_400 Remember, when you bend a note, usually the listener will hear the target pitch as the one that’s been affected rather than the starting note, which is pretty much the opposite of what we’re experiencing as the performer. It’s important to get around this idea early on as it can hold you back later.

That being the case, you shouldn’t worry too much about the starting pitch of your bend – provided the target pitch is solid and you’ve got good intonation, no one will really mind where the note started.

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Once you’ve got solid intonation and your fingers are getting used to the idea of doing a silly amount of bending work, try playing around with slackening-off the bend here and there, or really slowing it down you to get a very tense pitch raise. Add vibrato here and there as well for a bit more flavour.

The next step would be the advanced bending techniques of Over Bending and Pre-Bending.

The Blues: Mixing-Up Lead & Rhythm Ideas

This post is going to focus on the basics of tastefully making use of lead phrases in-between rhythm playing in a blues situation. Although this exercise is arguably quite sterile, it’s going to be an invaluable first step to get you more comfortable with the concept. Once you’re familiar with it you’ll be allowed much more freedom with your playing.

Below is the structure for what we’ll be playing. This relies on a good knowledge of the 12-bar blues in E, (here’s a link to that lesson), the difference, as you can see below, is that every alternate bar is room for you to solo. In the final bar, however, we’re not going to solo because the turnaround is quite interesting already.imageThe placeholder lick I’m going to demonstrate this with is the following. There’s no reason you have to learn this phrase, if you have your own arsenal of blues or blues-rock licks in the key of E they will do the job just fine.
I would suggest, however, if you’re not going to use this to try and use something in the open position, as it will be easier to play that rather than jumping up to the 12th fret for a bar.image

Here we go! The backing tracks below are longer versions of what I played over in the video, with a piano as well so it’s a little more obvious when the chord changes happen.

Start off with the slower backing here:

Then work your way up to the target speed of 120bpm like the track below:

So now what?

If you have your own blues licks, use them. Even better, move them around the fretboard to accommodate for each chord. As in, when the rhythm is playing an E, play the lick in E, when they move to A, move the lick to A as well. This is called chord-tone soloing and is the secret weapon of many blues greats, (it’s a pretty big deal in jazz too).

If you want to learn some blues new blues licks the implement, you can go here:
L Taylor Guitar’s Blues-Rock Licks #1

Example Song #4: Power Chords & Palm Mutes

             This song is a demonstration of two very common techniques within rock, pop and blues music. Power Chords, as you should already know, are used in place of full Open or Barre chords, in genres where guitars are usually distorted. Palm muting allows you to control the tone and volume of your guitar. If you’re a bit shaky on either concept, you may want to go back and refresh your memory.
Palm mutes are usually indicated by dots under the notes, as you can see below every open E string note.

In the first three bars we have an alternating un-muted / muted pattern. We start off playing the E5 twice un-muted, followed by two muted open E notes, (these are all quaver notes by the way, and should all be played evenly). We then play two un-muted D5’s, followed by the open E string twice again.
We continue to alternate like this until the end of the third bar where we leave off the final pair of open E mutes.
In the fourth bar we hit a pair of C5’s followed by a pair of D5’s. These powerchords are of the larger variety, which include the octave and give it a bigger sound.
Remember the repeat markings at the end. In the video we repeat this once before ending on the E5.

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         Aim to build up to around 110bpm. In the video I start at 100bpm, but there’s no shame in starting at 90 or 80 instead if you need to.

Standard Chord Progressions 1: Maj & Min I, IV, V Chord Patterns

The I, IV, V chord pattern is a very common progression, and it is for that reason I will be focusing on it for several lessons. If you have an interest in blues, rock or jazz music, this will form the basis for many songs you will learn, (especially in the case of the blues). By the end of this lesson, I hope you will be able to play a Maj or Min I, IV, V chord pattern, and understand the theory behind them.

I believe these progressions are so common largely because they are simple to learn. If you want to play a Major I, IV, V pattern, you only have to know Major chords. Similarly, if you want to play a Minor I, IV, V, you will be playing only Minor chords.
The second reason they are common is that you will be using every chord of that type available in the scale. For instance, the Major version will contain every Major chord of that given scale. Likewise, the Minor I, IV, V will contain every Minor chord of that scale. To reiterate, if you play a I, IV, V pattern in either Major or Minor, you will be using every chord of that type in the scale.
A further advantage of these progressions is that you only need to know the root note of the song. Most of the time, when playing a I, IV, V pattern I’m only thinking about the root note of the scale, because it’s not necessary to know the names of the other chords, provided you know you’re sticking in the right key.

First off, I want you to play a G Major scale, and take note of the first, fourth and fifth notes are, (this only works with the full scale, so if you’re only familiar with the Pentatonic scales, now would be the time to go and learn the full ones). The first, fourth and fifth notes are going to be the root notes of your I, IV, V progression.
Now, I want you to play the following chords separately, then try swapping between them a bit:

Once you’re comfortable playing these individually, try these various structures, (I’ve written out the chords, but titled each exercise as the scale degrees you’re using).

Here are a few things I want you to try now:
Play the same chord progressions above as open chords instead of barre chords.
Play these barre chord patterns as minors instead of majors, (the pattern stays the same, it’s just the chords that need to change)
Play these patterns in different keys. Shifting the entire pattern up 2 frets will give you A Major I, IV, V patterns. Shifting it down to the first fret will give you F Major I, IV, V patterns.

Examples of songs using a Maj or Min I, IV, V pattern:

          Pride & Joy by Stevie Ray Vaughn
          Louie, Louie by … I forget, but the most famous version was by The Kinks
          Crossroads by Cream
          Wicked Game by Chris Isaac

Memorizing The Fretboard

(I’ve stolen an image from www.CortGuitars.com for this. So there.)

These are some tips and tricks to help you memorize the fretboard. Memorizing the fretboard will help you to instinctively know where to go in order to voice different chords.

The first step is to remember the order of the open strings, which is as follows, (from deepest pitch to highest), E A D g b e. Quite often the thinnest three strings, (the ones which aren’t coiled), are written as lower-case letters. This helps to avoid confusion, being as there are two strings pitched to E.

Secondly, you need to remember that any note on the 12th fret is the same as it’s open string, only an octave higher.

The next sensible thing to do is to learn the notes on the deeper E string. Start by learning the notes on the 3rd, 5th, 7th and 9th frets, which are shown below. I have yet to see a guitar that doesn’t mark these frets on the freeboard or at least on the side of the neck. Be aware that a few guitars mark the first fret as well, mostly for aesthetics, so the 3rd fret is not always the first inlay on your guitar neck.

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The fourth step is remembering that the 1st fret on the E string is an F, the 8th fret is a C, and the 10th fret is a D. It is about this point that you will also need to learn that there are no Cb, B#, Fb or E# notes. If you are playing an E, (open E string), and sharpen the note by a half step, you will be playing F. Similarly, if you sharpen a B by a half step you will be playing C. In reverse, flattening a C will give you a B, and flattening a F will give you an E.

The next step is to memorize the highlighted notes on the A string, which are as follows. Also, remember that the 2nd fret on the A string is a B note.

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Once you have these down, you’ve certainly done the majority of the work. Learning the notes on the D and G strings is comparatively very easy. All you need to know now, is that if you play a note on the E or A strings, you can play that note’s octave, by skipping a string and playing 2 frets above. For instance, the following pairs are the same notes, but an octave apart:

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A similar rule is true when your first note is played on the G or D string. You need to take account of the tuning discrepancy for the B string. You’ll need to skip a string, but then play three frets higher, like this:

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Once you have these seven steps down, it’s only a case of filling in the gaps, which is usually as simple as placing a b or # symbol next to the adjacent note. And there you have it, fretboard memorized.