One technique commonly used in improvisation is repetition, and for guitar players, perhaps the best-known form of repetition is the repeating lick. Repeating licks are frequently used in rock and blues guitar solos and they are great for building intensity and excitement in your solos. Repeating licks generally consist of three or four notes repeated for two to four measures. These licks are fairly easy to play slowly (50-60 bpm), but it’s really worth the effort to nail them at these slower tempos. After that, with a little time and practice, you can build up speed and play these licks at faster tempos (120 bpm and higher), which will give these licks (and your solos) an even more impressive and exciting sound.
Now on to the goods…
Here are four very common repeating licks, all notated in the key of A.
The first repeating lick is one of the first licks I learned on guitar. If you’ve heard a rock guitar solo, you’ve heard this lick. Ace Frehley of Kiss uses it extensively.
The next repeating lick is a variation of the first lick. I believe this lick can be heard in Freebird by Lynyrd Skynyrd (it’s in the key of G on that particular recording).
The third repeating lick is a triplet lick reminiscent of Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin.
The last repeating lick of this lesson is one I learned from Terry Kath’s guitar solo in the song 25 or 6 to 4 by Chicago.
All the MP3 files that accompany this lesson were recorded at 90 BPM, in case you’re interested. This lesson was a lot of fun to put together, and I hope you’ve enjoyed it too.