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9/22/07

Learning How To Play Riffs And Licks

Learning how to play the guitar can change your life. You'll not only be called on to entertain at parties and gatherings, you will also have a hobby that you can use to pour out your soul when you are stressed or anxious. It's simply a wonderful thing to know how to play guitar. But maybe you already know some basic chords and are ready to progress into the world of learning how to play riffs and licks. If so, this article is for you.

Riffs and licks are based on chords and scales.

If you can become thoroughly familiar with a variety of popular chords and keys, you're on your way to mastering those rock guitar licks. Learning scales is the next step in your guitar instruction. You can get a poster from the local discount department store, and spend a few minutes each day familiarizing yourself with the scale names and diagrams represented.

Learn the variations on the chords, also called "voicings."

If you look at a book of guitar chords, you'll see that you don't have just one "G" chord, but a bunch of "G" chords, such as G7, and G9, and G major 7, and G minor 7. . . well, you get the picture. Each voicing has it's own unique feel. For instance, the major 7th chords have a misty, soft feel, while a series of 7th chords makes you automatically think of blues. For playing modern guitar music, especially jazz and contemporary Christian, you will need to be familiar with these variations. Older songs don't use them as much, and if all you like to play is classic bluegrass or country, you may not need anything fancier than a couple of minors.

Practice what you do with your picking hand, too.

Sometimes it seems like all the work needed in learning how to play riffs and licks focuses on the chording hand. The fact is, you need to be able to find the string you want with your right hand. (Left for you lefties.) The left hand might have the riff all figured out, but if your pick lands on the wrong string, you're not going to get the sound you want. Explore different ways of picking, too, to find what works for you. Some guitarists never pick up a pick, preferring to feel the strings with their fingers. Others have several picks on various fingers. Most use a standard flat pick, but try some different methods and you might stumble onto your own personal style for playing guitar licks and riffs.

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