Secret to sound of licks?


kjpro
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Joined: 01/04/10
Posts: 78
kjpro
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Joined: 01/04/10
Posts: 78
02/25/2010 4:31 pm
Hi all,
It never ceases to amaze me the way persons come up with some really cool blues, country, jazz just name them, licks.
I mean how do you get the lick to sound just the way you want? example, how do i take a blues lick and make it a country lick, or jazz and make it a rock lick?
# 1
Razbo
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Joined: 03/02/09
Posts: 1,562
Razbo
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Joined: 03/02/09
Posts: 1,562
02/25/2010 7:03 pm
If you are talking about the exact same sequence of notes, I guess it would be purely an expression thing. Timing, maybe some bend or vibrato, yet keeping the whole sequence primarily the same.

...And that to me is really the ticket to playing lead: conveying the expression you want. There are only 7 basic notes in a scale after all. How do we have so much different sounding music over all this time with only that to build on? Kind of remarkable when you think about it.
...so ever since then, I always hang on to the buckle.
# 2
ChristopherSchlegel
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Joined: 08/09/05
Posts: 8,177
ChristopherSchlegel
Guitar Tricks Instructor
Joined: 08/09/05
Posts: 8,177
02/25/2010 9:00 pm
Originally Posted by: kjpro
I mean how do you get the lick to sound just the way you want? example, how do i take a blues lick and make it a country lick, or jazz and make it a rock lick?

Three things are essential to making a series of notes sound genre specific:

1. Specific notes & their order.
2. Tone of the instrument.
3. Phrasing of the notes.

Another component that helps but is not required is the context in which the lick is played. For example, it helps if a country style lick is played in a country style song with other country elements, that will reinforce the country sound of the lick. However, you can play a lick that sounds "country-ish" in a metal song or a classical piece and that will not necessarily detract from the characteristic sound of the lick. It will merely sound like a country lick in a metal song.

#1 is absolutely crucial. Because, for example, some jazz licks are never going to sound like country licks regardless of the tone, phrasing & song they are in. And vice versa. Sometimes a specific series of notes by itself is enough to make it genre specific.

But, for your question let's assume we can rule out #1. You want the same exact notes in the same exact order.

That leaves us at #2 & #3; tone & phrasing.

To make it a blues lick, it would be a sharper, more aggressive, fuller tone. Think SRV, Johnny Winter. Even BB, & Albert King are more "aggressive" than a typical jazz player would be. Any vibrato would be wide, generous and "lyrical" (imitating dramatic vocal "wailing"). Strat through a loud Fender Showman or brownface on the edge of breaking up. Phrasing would put all the chord tones right on the downbeats. Lots of swing rhythms involved.

To make it a rock lick, more aggressive still, typically overdriven if not distorted, tight & punchy tone. Think Led Zep, Van Halen, Metallica. Dark & thick sounding. Les Paul (or other guitar with humbuckers) through an overdrive pedal into a cranked Marshall. Phrasing would less concerned with chord tone emphasis & more about the aggression of the phrase itself. Played more "riff-like". Straight or swing rhythm.

To make it a country lick, less aggressive, but more punch and percussive. Definitely cleaner sounding, to the point of "boing-iness" on the bends and vibrato. Bright sounding. Telecaster through a medium loud Fender Twin Reverb on clean & reverby for punch & twang. Phrasing would match chord tone to downbeat, but make allowances for the melody. Played in straight or swing rhythm, but played in a very "squared-off" phrasing sense.

To make it a jazz lick, less aggressive, no overdrive or distortion, but thick and dark. Bassy to the point of non-existent treble range, but very clear. Definitely clean sounding tone, to the point of "dry-plunk" sounding. No bends! Slight if any vibrato. Think Joe Pass, Barney Kessell, Pat Martino. Gibson ES-175 through a Polytone with the bass on 10 and the treble on 0. Played in flowing manner, emphasis on putting chord tones OFF of the downbeat (typical jazz melodic approach), usually swing rhythm, but can be straight.

Hope that helps.
Christopher Schlegel
Guitar Tricks Instructor

Christopher Schlegel Lesson Directory
# 3
Carmine M
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Joined: 02/27/09
Posts: 504
Carmine M
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Joined: 02/27/09
Posts: 504
02/25/2010 9:01 pm
I agree with Razbo. Mostly is the way you express yourself with techniques and dynamic. And the notes in a scale can be even less then seven.
Carmine

Regards,

cm

# 4
kjpro
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Joined: 01/04/10
Posts: 78
kjpro
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Joined: 01/04/10
Posts: 78
02/26/2010 12:44 pm
You guys are great. I think am getting it now, so off to practice i go.
Thanks again,
Ken.
# 5

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