In the terminology of blues guitar, licks is another name for a lead line played by a single guitar. There are many variations of this style of music, each one unique to a specific guitarist. From the chicken picking style of Wes Montgomery to the harmonized slide of Chuck Berry, blues guitar licks found their way from the southern river deltas and into the early days of rock and roll music. Many famous guitar players began playing blues songs and when their popularity moved them into a different genre, they carried their style of playing with them.
Jimi Hendrix was one of the main performers that seemed to have blues guitar licks in virtually every song he wrote and played along with George Harrison of The Beatles fame, especially in his song "While My Guitar Gently Weeps." Many of the best blues guitar players made their instruments sound as though they were talking or singing along with them, using various controls to add tremolo into the blues guitar licks.
Many guitars are equipped with what is called a tremolo bar, that allows the player to adjust the tension on all of the strings at the same time, simply be depressing, or lifting the bar. Others like Roy Buchanan used the volume control knob to achieve the tremolo effect when playing his hammer style blues guitar licks.
Many Famous Musicians Still Feel The Blues
Some of the biggest names in guitar music such as Keith Richards and especially Eric Clapton have used a style of blues guitar licks to enhance their music. One of the most famous blues guitarists, B.B. King used many combined styles to produce his unique style of blues guitar licks.
When people listen to many of today's guitar players, either during a song's instrumental introduction or during a musical interlude in the middle of a song may actually be listening to blues guitar licks played to a different, more upbeat tempo. Original blues is soulful and sometimes wistful while many of the more up-tempo numbers in rock music use blues guitar licks to exaggerate a point within the musical piece.
Most music for blues guitar licks is written in tablature to make it easier for the guitar player to learn to copy a new song. It is easier if they hear the music before attempting to play the piece and tablature has no indication of how long to hold each individual note. However, blues guitar licks played from tablature can be made to duplicate the original's sound.