Author Topic: How To Approach Learning Licks  (Read 1367 times)

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Online tobyjenner

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How To Approach Learning Licks
« on: July 24, 2020, 11:03:07 am »
Hiya peeps

I've kinda been out in the wilderness for a couple of years with so many distractions, which I'll save you from the details. Anyway I am frustrated at not being further down the road than really wanted to be by now, it feels like I hit a roundabout and been going round in circles ever since.

So with things settling down I am planning to get back into a regular practice routine once I've cleaned up the rust that's been accumulating.

I've got half way through the Blues Rhythm and Blues Lead courses and plan to restart from scratch even though I have some of the first stage licks under my slow fingers. But this week, noodling while the family where out holiday shopping. I had a crack at Justin's Blues Licks lessons. And boy did it suck.

Trying to learn the first couple of SRV licks was painful and compared to Justin's slow example, I am about 10 times slower. So I decided I needed to reach out to you folk before I get learning again and ask

What is the best way to learn licks ?

Should I focus on the fretting first ? Then introduce Justin's recommended picking ? Start with both ?
Build on starting with say the first 3 or 4 notes and slowly work up to the complete lick ?
How slow is slow ?

Frustrating as I can play sections and riffs from a few songs, a few examples 'Maiden's Afraid To Shoot Strangers, Holy Smoke and a few others I could name. But those 2 SRV runs left me feeling deflated, and I've kinda had enough of that this year.

So educate me please on what you consider the most effective way.

Cheers

Toby
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Offline adi_mrok

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Re: How To Approach Learning Licks
« Reply #1 on: July 24, 2020, 11:12:49 am »
What else do you have in your practice routine? I am just finishing off blues licks and I only had some difficulties with a few of them but after some practice they sit okay now.

First off no shortcuts - practice practice and practice, try using metronome to push yourself at least a bit every day. What I think helps me out get my fingers quicker is to train a scale with the metronome as a warm up excersie every day 10-15 mins.

In terms of picking - yes I use alternate picking but I am not always strict to what Justin does, yes I hammer on and flick off as it should be done but picking I just do what feels most comfortable to me.

Don't give up and it will be rewarded eventually!

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Offline glpguitar

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Re: How To Approach Learning Licks
« Reply #2 on: July 24, 2020, 11:20:20 am »
This might be a bit of not-so-helpful answer because it doesn't fully answer your question but the (unfortunately only) approach that really worked for me over the years was to:

1. Find cool licks thar are worth stealing from songs.
2. Transcribe the tones (if I write them down it helps me to see if I could put them on other strings as originally transcribed to make them more playable for me)
3. Listen to the lick within a song context a lot (I guess you already have some repertoire of licks that you know precisely how they should sound without even listening to them)
4. Play them but slower. If needed at 1% speed. So your hands get used to coordinate the new licks, especially if there are some techniques you are normally not using.
5. Gradually speed up to the original tempo. While speeding up you will subconsciously add more and more feel to lick.
6. Once you are able to play at original (or even a bit faster) tempo with the feel/vibe you want, slow it down again to let's say 20% of original speed and play it with the feel. Because when you started that slow you were just focused on getting the hands do what they need to do in sync.

I hope this is at least a bit helpful and clear.

Good luck!

Offline Rossco01

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Re: How To Approach Learning Licks
« Reply #3 on: July 24, 2020, 01:25:42 pm »
Tony frommy - limited - experience which is generally from learning solos for songs I'm learning for exams I tend to focus on the fretting first and actually memorising the individual movements for the solo/lick. I find that half the battle. Once I can remember the individual component parts I can then focus on playing them more accurately/with style and working on the picking.
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Online stitch101

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Re: How To Approach Learning Licks
« Reply #4 on: July 24, 2020, 03:10:15 pm »
Toby starting with SRV would be disheartening to anyone.
I'd recommend BB or Eric

Have you done the Blues Lead 1: Essential?
13 lessons that cover the basics just like the BC but for playing blues lead
Here's the first lesson.
Quote
https://youtu.be/V4DeCHI-tDQ




Online tobyjenner

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Re: How To Approach Learning Licks
« Reply #5 on: July 24, 2020, 03:21:02 pm »
@All thanks for the comments


@Stitch

Yes was part way through that mid last year and a restart planned. Was making slow but painful progress or so it seemed. Jumping back in with JS's Blues Licks module may have been a leap to far but was wondering how others made the approach to new licks. I guess like most things slow and steady wins the day as folks have said.

Anyway have just found some confidence boosters on Youtube that should take my head to a better place before I kick start practice again.

Cheers

Toby
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« Last Edit: December 21, 2020, 07:35:28 pm by close2u »
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Online stitch101

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Re: How To Approach Learning Licks
« Reply #6 on: July 24, 2020, 04:10:29 pm »
To answer you original question about learning licks.
I really never made a conscious effert to learn licks.
When I started it was more about copying solo and licks just seemed to work
into my playing.
Breaking solos down into small learnable pieces and playing them over and over
they just seamed to come out in my improvising which is still not my strong point
when playing.
Now that there is so much info on the net and you've been following Justin for
a while. All I can suggest is keep following Justin's lesson.

Offline jono

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Re: How To Approach Learning Licks
« Reply #7 on: July 24, 2020, 05:16:44 pm »
I used the licks minus the rhythm and played along to a drum track, 1 bar of the 12 bar blues and 1 bar lick. I didn't use Justin's rhythm or strumming and just did what would fit into the bar, then upped to to 2 bar licks and then did inbetween bar licks etc.
Eventually I was joining different licks while keeping track of where I was in the blues progression so I could continue the strumming in the correct place when the lick ended.
It's fun to play but I still hate the blues.

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Online tobyjenner

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Re: How To Approach Learning Licks
« Reply #8 on: July 24, 2020, 05:51:33 pm »
I used the licks minus the rhythm and played along to a drum track, 1 bar of the 12 bar blues and 1 bar lick. I didn't use Justin's rhythm or strumming and just did what would fit into the bar, then upped to to 2 bar licks and then did inbetween bar licks etc.
Eventually I was joining different licks while keeping track of where I was in the blues progression so I could continue the strumming in the correct place when the lick ended.
It's fun to play but I still hate the blues.

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Jono

Trying to keep it very simple for the moment and just concentrate on the licks. Fusing between licks and rhythm when I have tried it has been a complete cluster wottsit. So I'll work on getting the licks ingrained and the add them between the rhythm but I can see how this would work over a 12BB as you suggest.

Cheers

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Online tobyjenner

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Re: How To Approach Learning Licks
« Reply #9 on: July 24, 2020, 06:22:33 pm »
To answer you original question about learning licks.
I really never made a conscious effert to learn licks.
When I started it was more about copying solo and licks just seemed to work
into my playing.
Breaking solos down into small learnable pieces and playing them over and over
they just seamed to come out in my improvising which is still not my strong point
when playing.
Now that there is so much info on the net and you've been following Justin for
a while. All I can suggest is keep following Justin's lesson.


Stitch

That's the plan when I get the saddle back on the horse.

To some degree in my stop start learning journey before I got here, I think I leaned to your approach. I'd take a song I'd like find the tab (yeh don't beat me up for that) and learn the solo or classics, like Santana (Oye Como Va or Samba Pa Ti) or Gary More (Parisiene Walkways). I'd try and play as much as I could with technical limitations ie no bends but extra fretting  :(. But I guess all of those and the other songs I could play (been awhile) are pretty much a bunch of licks hooked together. So breaking out elements or phrases of those songs to use elsewhere never occurred to me. Almost static thinking rather than considering transferabilty.

Guess that where the frustration kicks in. If I can make a reasonable attempt at something that runs for several bars, why do I struggle on a lick that is just a few ?

Probably overthinking along the lines of Justin's Analysis Paralysis. After your post I thought of some of the lines I could play and also thought of the classic box sections and was starting to see how fusion worked. I could take a section I could play from a 'Maiden song out of context and use it elsewhere key etc permitting. Wash rinse repeat ala Shadow.

Anyway this was the YT example I stumbled on and there are some nice licks that I think are doable and will help me focus on those BL1 lessons - I was at the "linking" stage about a year back.





Just need to put a torrid couple of years behind me and crack on. Times a tickin but like they say "Never Too Old To Rock N Roll"

You wealth of experience always appreciated. So a big thanks of helping me see through the fog.

Cheers

Toby
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Online CT

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Re: How To Approach Learning Licks
« Reply #10 on: July 24, 2020, 06:38:43 pm »
The secret to learning anything on the guitar is to slow down. This applies to licks. I would only add that you should record yourself, and not for obvious reasons. Your "mess" ups will be your own cool little phrases and licks. You'll play the recording back and hear something cool that was not intended. Those may be keeper licks for later. If you're in the proper scale or chord triad there is no wrong.

Offline Rossco01

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Re: How To Approach Learning Licks
« Reply #11 on: July 24, 2020, 06:43:34 pm »
I stumbled across that video too Toby... I thought it was quite good.
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Online tobyjenner

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Re: How To Approach Learning Licks
« Reply #12 on: July 24, 2020, 06:53:56 pm »
The secret to learning anything on the guitar is to slow down. This applies to licks. I would only add that you should record yourself, and not for obvious reasons. Your "mess" ups will be your own cool little phrases and licks. You'll play the recording back and hear something cool that was not intended. Those may be keeper licks for later. If you're in the proper scale or chord triad there is no wrong.

For sure Clint once I get more comfortable with those BL1 licks I'll start to apply them over a bt and I'll record the sessions - if only to check out the good bad and ugly. Might not make it to AVYP but a personal references for sure.

Anyways just rolled back in time unamped for a little Holy Smoke and the fingers still working ok. This is more of a head thing at present so should be surmountable.

No pain without gain.  ;)

Cheers

Toby
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Online tobyjenner

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Re: How To Approach Learning Licks
« Reply #13 on: July 24, 2020, 06:58:50 pm »
I stumbled across that video too Toby... I thought it was quite good.

Hey Rossco, thanks for the earlier input. As I said to Stitch its more a confidence booster, as most of it is standard min pent and the odd bend. All within my reach and while dusting off the dirt on my rhythm playing for a week or so and learning some of these licks, my head will be in a better place for restarting BL1. Just been a roller coaster couple of years with zero focus. Just need to kick my butt into gear.

All the best.

Toby
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Online close2u

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Re: How To Approach Learning Licks
« Reply #14 on: July 24, 2020, 07:19:53 pm »
Toby, are you after blues licks, 12-bar stuff, for now?

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Re: How To Approach Learning Licks
« Reply #15 on: July 24, 2020, 07:51:29 pm »
Toby, are you after blues licks, 12-bar stuff, for now?

Pretty much Richard for starters. Just want to get back into the Blues Rhythm Module (stopped on alt 7th grips) and rework Blues Lead 1 from the start. Just after some simple lick that I can coherently jam with and link. No special project, just another few steps down the road, as I've been on a plateau for to darned long. Hoping personal baggage is easing so want to make up for lost time. I have been working on you soloing thread examples exercises over the last month off and on (family here from Uk for lat two) and some triad "picking". But really want to get some licks under my fingers, so should I ever resurrect some of my dormant own work projects, I can add fills bridges and or solos which they sadly need to break the monotony. So there are short medium and long term goals, if that makes sense.

Any other pointers appreciated. If I was still at Wakefield probably would have driven/riden over by now for some sanity and direction !

Cheers

Toby
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Online close2u

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Re: How To Approach Learning Licks
« Reply #16 on: July 24, 2020, 08:13:18 pm »
@ Toby..
Check your pm - I am sharing something with you.
:)

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Re: How To Approach Learning Licks
« Reply #17 on: July 25, 2020, 10:42:18 am »
Blues improv, licks and expressing yourself through improv.
Some thoughts.

You need a guitar vocabulary made of words, phrases, sentences etc.  Then you can express yourself and make up conversations. Maybe even just with yourself!
This vocabulary begins with learning and using scale pattern fragments and licks etc.
Playing the scales is one thing. And you must practice them around and around, over and over, preferably to a metronome or click track at differing speeds. Alternate picking. But using them purposefully is crucial to instilling them in your head and fingers. Give yourself the facility to play from the notes / patterns of a scale at will, really learn it ... 3-in-a-line, 4-in-a-line, random change of direction, string skipping etc etc etc.

Learn licks, one at a time to begin. For each new lick, play it over and over forwards, backwards, broken down into fragments and reconstituted .... and improvised over loads of backing tracks too. You have to work with these licks, really work them. Honestly and truly, you have to play one lick over a full 3-4 minute backing track and really listen how it works over the chord changes. Then start messing with it, to do something different, putting your own spin on it. That is the key to improvising. As you spend time - hours and more - just fiddling around with licks to play them as taught, to deconstruct them and play them as fragments, you will automatically find yourself playing new licks that you create by putting the fragments back together in different order, or extending by adding extra flourishes at the end or additional notes at the outset.

Listen carefully to the licks you play.
As you play them slow, fast, smoothly or in broken staccato jumps ... can you imagine singing them? If so, what words are you singing? What lyrics can you think? What feeling are you conveying? What emotions are you drawing on? Do you need to repeat it - like a plaintive cry of blues? I'm all out of love and my baby's gone ... I said I'm all out of love and my baby's gone ... She's gone, gone and I won't see her no more ... etc.

Hopefully you get the idea.
Think too that if you were to sing that you would need to breathe. Blues lead playing, licks, runs, phrases, improv, soling ... it needs to breathe too. It needs space between the phrases. Some phrases need to be shouted, others whispered. Some come out in a rush. Some as a long, slow drawl. Speak through your fingers. Make yourself feel it by imagining it and inhabiting the blues space.
« Last Edit: July 25, 2020, 01:30:00 pm by close2u »

Online tobyjenner

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Re: How To Approach Learning Licks
« Reply #18 on: July 25, 2020, 11:15:25 am »
@Close

Ok I will need to sit down and internalise what you are saying but I get the message and understand the concepts. Never thought of playing the same lick repeatedly over a BT, what works what doesn't, speed it up, stretch it out kinda thing, start on a different beat etc. Doing that for example over a 12BB, would keep the lick in the same key when analysing the good or bad. Or would try a transition over the IV or V for example. ie assuming the lick you chose is movable ? Just thinking out loud.

Anyways, busy day with family but plenty to think about in the coming days and a revamp of the practice schedule certainly required.


Thanks again to all for your input, as its getting my head in the right place again.

Cheers

Toby
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Online close2u

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Re: How To Approach Learning Licks
« Reply #19 on: July 25, 2020, 01:34:23 pm »
... As you spend time - hours and more - just fiddling around with licks to play them as taught, to deconstruct them and play them as fragments, you will automatically find yourself playing new licks that you create by putting the fragments back together in different order, or extending by adding extra flourishes at the end or additional notes at the outset.
...

Addendum.

Where a lick you learn may have a bend, a hammer on, a flick-off, a double-stop, a slide ... you may find yourself altering these techniques of expression so say, a slide becomes a bend or vice versa, a hammer-on becomes a bend, a flick-off & hammer-on combination becomes something you repeat multiple times, slow or fast or increasing the tempo etc etc etc.
Because I am saying stick to a lick for the duration of a backing track you are going to find it almost impossible not to want to try to change it, alter it, modify it, mess around with it. Simply because to play it in the same manner over and over and over will be utterly tiresome. Out of necessity you will find yourself becoming inventive.

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Re: How To Approach Learning Licks
« Reply #20 on: July 25, 2020, 01:53:56 pm »
Just come across this in my meanderings ...

https://justinguitarcommunity.com/index.php?topic=34041.0

Online tobyjenner

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Re: How To Approach Learning Licks
« Reply #21 on: July 26, 2020, 11:42:58 am »
Addendum.

Where a lick you learn may have a bend, a hammer on, a flick-off, a double-stop, a slide ... you may find yourself altering these techniques of expression so say, a slide becomes a bend or vice versa, a hammer-on becomes a bend, a flick-off & hammer-on combination becomes something you repeat multiple times, slow or fast or increasing the tempo etc etc etc.
Because I am saying stick to a lick for the duration of a backing track you are going to find it almost impossible not to want to try to change it, alter it, modify it, mess around with it. Simply because to play it in the same manner over and over and over will be utterly tiresome. Out of necessity you will find yourself becoming inventive.

Thank you Richard.

So looks like I have a cunning Baldrick type plan but will need to assess available practice time. May alternate daily routines but .......... back to the beginning with the BRM and BLM and some additions

1) Warm up
Dexterity exercises - stretch, spider, finger gym, minimum movement (these old hand need this)
Scales with metronome

2)Technique
Blues Rhythm Module
Blues Lead Module
12BB Licks
10 Easy Guitar Licks

3) Blues Impro
Apply and explore licks learnt in section 2

4) Songs
Current works in progress

All is good. Head straight, plateau buster plan ready for action. Slow and steady wins the day  8)
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