Licks as Bricks – Building a Blues Guitar Solo

Many of my students want to know how to improvise and build guitar solos over a 12 bar blues progression. Using guitar licks as bricks you can build an effective blues solo. First off you need to know the notes and the main pattern (AKA pattern 1) of the minor pentatonic scale. These notes will be the building blocks of your solo.

A minor pentatonic pattern 1

The next step in constructing your solo is to create phrases or licks using these notes. These licks will act as bricks to construct your solo. The solo we’re building has a combination of licks with some using string bends and others that don’t. These bent licks are based on a phrase and its variations. Some of these phrases also use pattern 2 the minor pentatonic scale. Note that all these licks except for #3 start in the “and” after beat 3.


blues licks with bends

The other licks in the blues solo are created by simply running up and down the notes of the pentatonic scale. To make the notes more expressive techniques including slides, hammer-ons and pull-offs are used. Like the bending licks some of these phrases also use part of the minor pentatonic pattern 2.

blues licks with no bends

The final solo will alternate between the bending lick variations and the non bending phrases to create a cohesive and flowing solo.

blues licks solo 1

Mp3 Track

Blues Licks Solo 1 | Download
Listen to the audio of The Blues Licks Solo 1.

Another solo can be created by simply starting the solo with the non bent licks and then alternating them with bent licks.

blues licks solo 2

Mp3 Track

Blues Licks Solo 2 | Download
Listen to the audio of The Blues Licks Solo 2.

By using this idea of licks and their variations as building blocks or licks as bricks you can easily build you own guitar solo for blues, rock, jazz or other styles music.

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