bluegrass licks

In part 2, we talked about using licks that followed the chords of the song instead of playing the melody. In part 3, we learn how to make adjustments to licks to help them to fit into the song better.

You may find that your new favorite lick doesn’t fit where you want it to go. It may be too short, too long, or doesn’t match the chord changes. Here are some adjustments you can make to get the most out of the licks you already know.

This is a three-part series on how to use licks in bluegrass songs. Part one focuses on fill-in licks, and how they can be used to add energy and style to a melody. In part two, we abandon the melody altogether and learn how licks can be used instead when they follow the chord progression. Finally, in part three, we will study how to make small changes to licks to make them fit into a song better.

I’d like to share an incredible flatpicking style lick that can be used in countless songs and tunes. This is a phrase that opened up many doors for me as a flatpicking guitarist. Should you want to master this idea you will have to transpose these ideas into other keys and octaves. Each one of these variations showcases a different way of inventing the phrase. The ideas vary in length and note choice but are all based on this one idea. Once you work through the following variations I’m certain you will be able to come up with more of your own and find endless situations to use this classic phrase.