3 Chromatic Blues Licks in E

There’s nothing like a good 12 bar blues to let you throw in a few blues licks while you’re jamming around, but the actual rhythm part of the 12 bar is usually pretty easy to pickup. So, today I’ve got three blues licks for you to work on. Once you’ve got those nailed down, take them and start throwing them into your jam sessions, your favorite 12 bar, or whatever else strikes your fancy.

The common denominator among these three licks is that they all have a bit of a chromatic flavor to them. If you’re unfamiliar with some of the interval patterns demonstrated here, you should checkout my other lessons, starting with those on the guitar scales. You can also find other lessons on thirds in the Licks & Riffs section, and some explanation in the Guitar Theory section.

Because these licks are chromatic, they’re not found strictly within a particular scale pattern; however knowing your pentatonic minor and major scales will be useful here. Essentially, we’re working off the E pentatonic minor scale (open), and also getting up into the G major pentatonic as well.

Once you’ve got those licks down, I always recommend working them over with some jam tracks to really get them down pat. You can find a great collection of jam tracks here.

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  1. This is the kind of lesson I really enjoyed watching. 3 in 1. I have to master the third riff. I kinda slow on that one. Thanks friend and have a good day!

  2.   Good  Lesson  Jon,  Nice  Notes,  Nice  Tones,  Nice  Licks,  Thank  You….
              Wal  of  the`RAPIDS“CEDAR`that  is…

  3. LOve this and other lessons; off the topic, I have injured the forefinger and middle finger on my left hand, and althought the healing is complete, except for some numbness when i play, I find I cannot make a full barre chord anymore. I have your video on small barre chords; I was wondering if you have any other specific advice for me on the subject.

  4. As others have commented, tabs would be really useful – great licks but difficult to follow without tabs

  5. Great sounding licks, but without tabs of the licks and tabs of the rest of the playing around the licks I am at a loss to try to duplicate what you are playing.

  6. I have a question about the first lick.
    I get it when you play 0 1 2 on A string, in that case 0 and 2 are a part of minor pentatonic scale, and 1 is the blue note.
    But you also played 0 1 2 on D string. So 0 and 2 are also a part of the minor pentatonic scale, but what’s the deal with 1st fret D string, the note right before the root?
    It has a specific sound that you don’t often hear in blues. I hear that in yngwie malmsteen but that’s a sound of heavy metal or classic rock.
    When do you use that note in blues?

  7. Hi Alan, there’s a longer answer to this, where I could get into a bunch of theory, but suffice it to say for now that all the ‘chromatic’ notes in between the actual notes of the scale are fair game for being used in this way, as passing notes.

    In relation to E (the root note of the scale) the note you mentioned on the A string is Bb (1st fret). That’s a passing note between the IV (A) and the V (B), and is the most famous and popular of the “blues” notes.

    The note you asked about is also a passing note, but it fits between the VII (D) and the VIII (E) in this scale – it’s an Eb, and you can use it the same way you use the other passing notes.

    You’ll hear both of these passing notes used in blues solos, however the one between the IV and the V is very often used in the actual chord progression, which really emphasizes it. It’s most commonly used in the turnaround at the end of a 12 bar. But when it comes to solos – both of those notes are fair game and you’ll hear them used a lot.

  8. Got it. I rarely used this note when playing blues. I mostly used the blue one (between 4 and 5) and the one I think it comes between 2 and 3 in minor pentatonic scale , it’s a part of the major scale.
    I’ll definitely try to use more the pre root note and see how it sounds.
    Thank you.

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