Lick of the Week 4: Open Pentatonic Bend

Open position guitar licks are kind of their own animal. Sure, you can often try to apply them to other scale positions – and later in this lesson you’ll see me do that – however, because of the open notes we have access to, we can often end up playing things that we simply couldn’t play in a closed position.

It’s almost like having an extra finger at your disposal!

This is a classic open blues lick that you’ve probably heard a million times from guys like Stevie Ray Vaughan etc.

The first part of the tab might look a bit strange to you, but all that it’s saying is exactly what I talked about in the video. First establish the E note, then bend it up, then release it down, all in one motion, but each phase taking up it’s own sixteenth note.

After that point, it’s smooth sailing.

If you like this lick, you can find more on the Lick of the Week page.

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  1. Wow, thanks Jonathan for another fun lick! Could you please explain how to
    “transfer to the other closed positions” as you mentioned in the video? You made it look so effortless: is it really easy to do or is that your centuries (well okay, decades) of experience showing?

    1. Hey Jeff, sorry I really did kinda gloss over that in the video didn’t I?

      Consider your open scale – it is the same pattern as the closed pentatonic minor scale, with the exception that we’re using open notes instead of fretted ones. So, if you want to move a lick elsewhere, you need to examine how it interacts with the scale pattern, and then move that pattern of notes up to the key you want to play in. In the video, I briefly demonstrated playing it in A minor. This means every note in the lick is moved up five frets from where it started. Also, whereas some of the notes were played open in the original, we now need to fret those notes in the A minor pattern. This means the fingering for the lick will be a little bit different than when played open.

      Does that help?

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