A common problem that all guitar players have when learning new guitar licks to use in improvising or building their own solos is that they struggle to remember them. How do you keep all of those licks straight so that you can effectively use them during a blues jam, playing over backing tracks or just jamming with your friends?
Griff Hamlin of Blues Guitar Unleashed wrote a great article that addresses this issue that all guitar players struggle with. Griff offers some great advice on how to deal with it.
Have you ever spent some time learning a new blues lick only to discover that the next day (or heck, even the next hour) you can’t remember it or play it the same way?
We’ve all been there… shoot I sometimes try a new lick and then play it again and accidentally change it, and then again, and then again…
By the time it’s over I’ve come up with 38 different variations, none of which I can play in a song!
It’s a BIG problem.
When that happens, you’re spinning your wheels… and we guitar players don’t like spinning our wheels.
Well I’ve got what I call my “3 gig” rule for any new lick…
and you could easily change this to a “3 practice session” rule if that makes more sense (I just tend to “practice” on a bandstand more than in my room at home.)
Here’s where I’ve got the lick committed to memory (sort of,) so I try it out in as many different possible songs and keys as I can. I try to throw it in *everywhere* all night long. Sometimes it works – most of the time it doesn’t come out so good.
I’ll keep trying it as much as I can and I’ll usually get about a .500 average by the end of gig 2. I’ve got a pretty good feel for it now but it needs a lot of fine tuning.
By the end of gig 3, I’ve got the lick squarely under my fingers and I know how to use it and what types of songs (what feels and what keys) it will be appropriate.
Now in a gig I usually play 3-4 hours worth of music. You don’t need that much but you can simulate that with some good jam tracks and playing over them for an hour or so.
If you’re using jam tracks, don’t be afraid to do the same one more than once and really focus on a particular style or key if you’re confident the new lick will fit well there.
But at the same time, make sure you explore some variety and try the new lick out with some things outside your comfort zone.
And notice that this whole process goes for ONE lick at a time… never more than one.
Now, if you need more licks and more ideas, I always suggest Blues Guitar Unleashed with literally dozens of licks throughout the course on top of all the key blues rhythm elements you’ll pretty much ever need.