I love Licks! Learning licks is a great way to quickly feel confident learning the guitar. There are all sorts of Licks book available, but the best one for a beginner is — “Hal Leonard’s Lead Licks” — because that book will give you 220 Licks and five playing styles and a CD to help you study.
A Lick, if you don’t know, is a short piece of music that you can play as lead or rhythm with your guitar. Some Licks drive your fingers up the fretboard while others plunge your hand down low.
Some guitarists feel if you can master 10 Licks in your lifetime, you can successfully play around with them as a professional guitarist in live performance and sound good and efficient for the rest of your musical career.
I have Licks books for Country, Blues, Jazz, Funk, Rockabilly, Rock and Fingerstyle. I like “Lead Licks” the best for beginners because once you learn one Lick — with one or two changes for styles playability — you can immediately play four more differently styled Licks.
Here are the five book Licks: Rock, Blues, Jazz, Country and Outside.
The “Outside” lick is a Hal Leonard original described this way:
There’s even an “outside” version of each lick — a modern improvisational tool that started in Jazz but has also been employed by many “jam based” guitarists, which takes the listener on a brief voyage beyond the given tonality, or key, and then resolves, providing a “tension and release” that can be very exciting.
Who knew there was so much science behind learning a Lead Lick?
Mastering a Lick is, in many ways, more satisfying than learning an entire song, because, with a Lick, you have a defined start and finish. A Lick can take 5-20 seconds to play, while a song can take three minutes or so to start and resolve.
Licks also get you immediately familiar with the entire fretboard. You’re playing slides and hammer-ons and pull-offs all over the place and your fingers will get a good workout — but without overwhelming you or unduly testing your stamina. The Licks guitar TABs are easy to read, and include a lot of white space so your eye won’t get overly seasoned or overwhelmed.
Lead Licks will work with any acoustic or electric guitar — and I know once you get started, you won’t stop Licking!
Hal Leonard also has a “Rhythm Riffs” book that in the same vein as “Lead Licks.” You learn 220 Riffs in the Rock, Rhythm and Blues, Jazz, Country and Funk styles. That book also comes with a CD, and buying both books together will cover your Lead Licking and your Rhythm Riffing from now until forever!