Category Archives: Licks

Blues licks so easy your grandma can play them

Wanna learn how to play the Blues? Well, you need to learn some licks. So I have some Blues licks to show ya.

These licks are so easy your grandma can play them. I show them to you at normal speed and also slow, and even explain them in intricate detail.

Blues licks so easy…

So you might be asking, why are blues licks so important? Well, do you like American music? If so, Blues is the basis for all American music, from Jazz, Ragtime, R&B, Country, and Rock n Roll.

Of course as a Metalhead, Metal came from Britain. But even early Metal was heavily influenced by the Blues. So of course I’m going to take learning the Blues seriously.

Regardless, some of my favorite guitarists played some pretty mean Blues. Angus Young of AC-DC, BB King, Prince, and Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top all play their own version of the Blues.

Blues translates well

Years ago, I got asked to join a working Country & Western band. Not at all my style of music, but I really liked the leader of the band. He was very cool, and C&W dance halls are generally full of good looking ladies. And, they’re approachable.

These guys were making some pretty good money. As a Metalhead, it’s not so easy picking up regular gigs. You don’t start making money until your band gets pretty big.

With Country, you make money right away because C&W fans love to dance. Take a wild guess why they asked me to join…

Damn right! Because they knew I played some pretty mean Blues. And yes, Blues translates very well to Country music. If you can play Blues, you can play Country.

But let’s not make this all about Country. That’s just one example. I use these Blues licks all the time in my Metal guitar solos.

So learn these things. No matter what kind of music you play, they’ll integrate quite well.

Roman makes playing blues licks so easy for the Romantic Metal band Astral Eyes.

Roman of Astral Eyes makes blues licks so easy

Roman plays some pretty mean Blues

The Harmonic Minor Scale

Remember 80s Metal? For awhile there, Neo-Classical got really big and you guessed it, that’s why we’re going over the Harmonic Minor scale. The Harmonic Minor scale was the most used scale by the Neo-Classical Metal guitarists of the 80s, until of course in the late-80s, someone gave them a memo to all start learning Jazz Fusion and Metal started getting really weird.

Well, here’s an ode to the 80s before things got really weird. It’s one of the three scales I warm up with in the morning.

What is the Harmonic Minor scale?

Simply put, it’s the minor scale with the seventh note sharped. Yes, it’s that easy. That’s what gives it that exotic sound.

With the following fingers:
1 – Index finger
2 – Middle finger
3 – Ring finger
4 – Pinky

The Harmonic Minor scale

The Harmonic Minor scale

Once again, I used E because it’s easier. You get two dots so you can see exactly where it is on the guitar.

Learn the pattern. Play it forwards and backwards. Then start playing it in other keys on the fretboard.

Go for accuracy first

Like always, go for accuracy first. Learn it and get the scale to flow well. The speed will come. Get accuracy down first. Learn it correctly before building up your speed. That’s very important and I can’t emphasize how important that is. Very few things sound worse than a fast player who’s missing all over the place. That stuff sounds like crap. (Don’t be that guy).

Once you’ve mastered it, build it into licks and runs. Throw in some bends. Heck, incorporate it into your riffs. Riffs built off the Harmonic Minor scale sound really cool.

Randy Rhoads used this scale in one of my favorite Ozzy Osbourne songs – Revelations. This scale is what gives the song such an exotic sound.

Enjoy! There’s no limit what you can do with this scale.

Roman


Roman orchestrations Astral Eyes
Roman writes the orchestrations for Astral Eyes. He plays Guitar and Piano and has a Bachelor’s degree in History.

The Blues Scale

I use the Blues Scale as one of my three warm-up scales. In any order, I start the morning off with the Major scale, the Harmonic Minor scale, and the Blues scale. I’ll go into the other two another day, but today, I’ll focus on the Blues scale.

What is the Blues Scale?

The Blues Scale is simply a pentatonic scale with an additional flatted fifth. It’s very simple, but sounds quite awesome.

With the following fingers:
1 – Index finger
2 – Middle finger
3 – Ring finger
4 – Pinky

Simply take the diagram and practice that pattern up and down the neck, forwards and backwards. I chose E because E has 2 dots. Let’s keep it simple.

The Blues Scale

The Blues Scale

Starting from the fat E string, play with your index finger on the twelve fret and your pinky finger on the fifteenth fret, then work your way up. Do it slowly and accurately at first. Go for accuracy first. Let speed develop with time.

Don’t rush speed

Don’t rush speed. Speed will come. You should never rush speed. That’s a shortcut you don’t want to take because your sound will suffer, big time.

You want to practice this very slowly. Get a really nice flow first. With repetition comes accuracy and with accuracy comes speed. I know speed is a bad word to some, but whatever. I happen to think you should have as many weapons in your arsenal as possible. If you can play the mean Blues, great. If you can play fast, great. Or if you can play jazzy, great. If you can be groovy, great. The more tricks you have up your sleeve, the better. Don’t limit yourself because some jackass got offended because he’s being a purist snob.

So learn this scale if you don’t already know it. Learn it up and down the neck. Become accurate at it first, then let the speed develop on its own. You can incorporate it into your licks or runs or other bags of tricks. There are times when I’ll do this one on its own too. It’s got a pretty cool sound. Add a few bends somewhere in there and you’re golden.

Enjoy!

Roman

Roman from Astral Eyes
Roman is one of two guitarists in the twin lead guitar band Astral Eyes.

Image of Roman shot by Kate. Thanks Kate!