Open-Position Licks: Learn Five Hot Phrases in the First Five Frets

Learn five scalding open-position licks in this lesson.
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#1 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.”

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#2 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.

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#3 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.

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#4 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.

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#5 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.

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