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Making Your Licks Exiting and Unpredictable

Hey everybody. Welcome to my first column here at Insaneguitar.  Let me give a shout out to Tachi, and the boys for giving me this opportunity. My first column here is going to deal with how to create new and exiting licks so that your uniqueness will shine through in your playing. Before we get to the examples. I would like to tell you how I approach this. I use a concept that I like to call “mix n match”. What I like to do, is take a technique like….say sweep picking. And add another technique like legato or tapping within the same lick.  Most of us have seen (and played) this combination so we’ll stick with that. Now here’s where it gets interesting. Then I use different rhythmic groupings vary them throughout the lick. Take example 1. This is in d minor. The sweep arpeggios are sextuplets (groups of six) while the legato parts are octuplets (groups of eight). This lends itself to sounding different than the standard arpeggio sequences that most of us are used to hearing.

This next example is a 4-note-perstring legato run in f# Dorian where I’m also throwing in a string skip from the high e-string to the g-string. So here I’m doing technique but I’m also throwing in something else. Each sequence grouping in the lick is a sequence in and of itself. Not only that but these are my own sequences that I completely made up myself. It looks simple but keep in mind that its 4 notes per string.

This last example is an A major lick that works good as a fill or and end phrase to a solo. What I’m doing here is a legato sequence followed by a sweep. Here I’m varying the rhythmic grouping, technique, and sequences in the two legato lines.

Because of the unpredictability of these licks, I highly recommend that you use a metronome to learn them. The only problem with licks like these is that they must be real tight. If they’re even just a little off, they’ll sound sloppy and unfocused.

Let’s review the finer points of the lesson:

Mix n match techniques, rhythms, sequences (create your own sequences as well), and strive to create your own licks. Before long, you’ll have a sound that’s totally you.

Feel free to check out my site athttp://www.geocities.com/shelbywilliford and email me at

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