Learn Five Head-Turning Guitar Licks in the Open Position

blues guitarist
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Want to turn heads, raise eyebrows and melt some faces with your lead playing, but also avoid notes that are only audible to dogs?

These scalding open-position licks will add plenty of heat to your leads and, even better, never stray outside the fifth fret!

So take a look below, give 'em a try for yourself and see which new directions your leads can be taken in.

Lick #1

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Constructed from the G blues (G Bb C Db D F) and G major pentatonic (G A B D E) scales, this lick is at its best when played over a G7 chord.

Aim for a tempo of approximately 180 bpm to achieve the proper country “twang.”

Lick #2

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This lick – also a combination of the G blues and G major pentatonic scales – is most easily executed using alternate picking throughout, with the exception being the hammer-on in measure 2. 

The trickiest part of the lick for your right hand is skipping from the 3rd to the 5th string on beat 1 of the same measure.

Spend a little more time on this section to ensure that you can play the entire lick smoothly. 

Lick #3

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Based almost exclusively on the C major pentatonic scale (C D E G A), this lick is a lesson in legato playing, with an abundance of slides, hammer-ons and pull-offs.

This phrase sounds best when played briskly, with a clean tone. 

Lick #4

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This lick brings to mind shades of Stevie Ray Vaughan and Freddie King.

Notice that the phrase ends on the b7th (D) as opposed to the root (E), giving it a strong dominant quality.

The triplet rhythms can be tricky, so be sure to start off slowly and work toward the target tempo of 90 bpm.

Lick #5

(Image credit: Future)

Based on the E blues scale (E G A Bb B D), this descending lick touches on every note of the scale before resolving to the root on the 4th string.

Triplets are the rhythmic foundation of this lick, so again, be sure to start slowly and gradually work up to speed.

Guitar Player Staff

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