Blues Turnaround Licks - Learning To Play The Guitar

Blues Turnaround Licks

circle_signBlues turnaround licks are played at the end of a 12 bar blues progression as it “turns around” back to the start of the next 12 bars. When soloing over the last 1-2 Bars of a 12 bar blues you can just play minor pentatonic licks however playing a turnaround lick will help to outline the chord changes allowing others to hear where you are in the tune!

In this guitar lesson we will look at some common blues turnaround licks.

Walking Up Chromatic Lick
This simple but effective lick plays the root note of the I chord then walks up chromatically from the 3rd of the I chord to the root note of the V chord. In the example in the key of A this translates to the root note of A followed by the 3rd note of C# walking up chromatically to E which is the root of the V chord. These notes are double plucked giving them rhythmic movement.

Blues Turnaround Lick

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Walking Down Chromatic Lick
What goes up can also go down! The walking down version of a blues chromatic lick starts with the root note of the I chord then walks down chromatically from the 7th of the I chord to the root note of the V chord. In the key of A this is the root note of A followed by the 7th note of G walking down chromatically to the root of the V chord (E).

Blues Turnaround Lick 2

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Walking Up & Down With Root Note Pedal Lick
These walking up and down licks can be varied by adding the root note as a pedal tone throughout. To emphasise this pedal tone note the lick can be played with triplets.

Blues Turnaround Lick 3

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Turnaround 6th Lick
Another common lick is the 6th turnaround lick. This one plays 6ths intervals moving chromatically down from the 5th and 3rd of the root chord (E & C# in the key of A) to the 3rd and 5th of the root chord (C# & E in the key of A). This can then be followed by 2 notes leading chromatically upwards to the V chord (E7 in the key of A).

Blues Turnaround Lick 4

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Chromatic Leading Chord
Any of the previous licks can be spiced up by adding a chromatic leading chord one fret away from the V chord. In other words a wrong chord creates tension that is resolved by moving to a right chord. Sticking with the key of A for our example the V chord E7 can be preceded by either a F7 or an Eb7. Check out the examples below.

Blues Turnaround Lick 5

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Blues Turnaround Lick 6

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Once you can play these example licks transpose them into other common blues guitar keys such as E G & D. Mastering blues turnaround licks will enhance your blues lead guitar and connect your playing to the chords of the 12 bar blues.

 

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