Jamie Holroyd Guitar

Jamie Holroyd Guitar

5 Cool Blues Guitar Licks

5 Cool Blues Guitar Licks

Having a good selection of blues guitar licks is a guaranteed way to sound good when improvising over a blues progression.

Although it’s good to leave some room for pure improvisation, every guitarist I can think of always has a set licks to fall back on and this lesson includes 5 personal favorites.

Each of these blues licks are applied over major chords so they will work over major blues tunes such as Sweet Home Chicago, Key to The Highway, Everyday I Have The Blues, and other countless blues standards.

Each lick is written in music notation and tab but its worth while checking out the audio samples to get the feel and phrasing correct.

If you are looking for some minor blues licks, check out my 5 Minor Blues Licks for Guitar article.


Blues Guitar Licks Example 1


This first cool blues guitar licks example is in the key of E and starts with a common blues dyad on the top two strings.

The lick finishes off with a funky pedal lick which can be played with any right hand technique.

Pay close attention to the accents on the second triplet to get the funky feeling of the lick correct.


blues guitar licks example 1Example 1


Blues Guitar Licks Example 2


The next blues guitar licks example features classic minor to major 3rd movement, a key element in blues guitar playing.

Ending a lick on the lower strings of the guitar works well and is evident here as the lick finishes with a descending root position A triad.


blues guitar licks example 2Example 2


Blues Guitar Licks Example 3


Feeling different rhythms is an important aspect of learning any style, and this next lick helps develop your 16th note feel.

Adding some jazz flavour to blues improvisation can also spice things up and that’s what’s happening here as this lick includes the #9, natural 9 and 13th of the chord.

The first half the lick actually uses the Dorian scale which might seem strange over a dominant 7th chord, but blues music often mixes major and minor tonalities and the major 3rd (C#) is featured towards the end of the lick bringing the sense of a major tonality.


blues guitar licks example 3Example 3

Blues Guitar Licks Example 4


Subscribers of this website will know that I am a big fan of bluesy pedal licks so I had to feature one in this article.

Besides working over the I dominant 7 chord which is C7 in  this example, this lick works great over the last bar of a 12 bar blues because of the tension and resolution it provides.


blues guitar licks example 4Example 4

Blues Guitar Licks Example 5


Slow blues tunes are often subdivided in triplets which can be rhythmically highlighted as demonstrated in this next lick.

Blues guitar licks example 5 also demonstrates how voice leading is effective in blues improvisation.

Check out how the B natural, the 3rd of G natural, drops to Bb, the 7th of C7 in the second bar of the lick.


blues guitar licks example 5Example 5


I hope that have you enjoyed playing and listening to these blues guitar licks. Who are some of your favorite blues guitarists? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Be Sociable, Share!


Alan Knight

Great blues lessons Jamie, and as usual explained with great clarity
and simplification.

Leave a Comment

Alan Knight

Great blues lessons Jamie, and as usual explained with great clarity
and simplicity

Jamie Holroyd

Thank you Alan - glad you liked it.

Leave a Comment

Leave a Comment