3 Hyper-Aggressive Blues Guitar Licks to Start Your Blues Solos

Here are 3 super aggressive blues guitar licks that can be used to grab your audience’s attention and leave them with little doubt that you mean business! ?

If you’ve listened to music for very long, you’ve probably noticed that some guitar solos start off nice and quiet and gradually build. However, some others grab your attention and blow your socks off from the very start. Let’s discuss 3 licks that you can use in your solos, starting today.

All of these licks are transposed to the key of E, but they are movable, and can be played in any key. They are also meant to be played with overdrive and distortion, so buckle up and let’s go!

Aggressive Lick #1 – Paul Gilbert, Continuous Descending Pull-Offs

The first lick is a 3-note-per-string Pentatonic scale lick that I got from Paul Gilbert at the beginning of his solo in his performance of the Jimi Hendrix tune, “Red House.” I have included it below, but first here’s audio of me playing the lick along with the tablature, for the key of E. The tablature represents a single measure.

E|-------------------------------------------------------
B|-17p15p12-17p15p12-17p15p12-17p15p12-17p15p12-17p15p12-
G|-------------------------------------------------------
D|-------------------------------------------------------
A|-------------------------------------------------------
E|-------------------------------------------------------

Here’s Paul playing it in the key of B (I think). He starts his solo and this lick right at the 2:30 mark of the video.

It’s a continuous pull-off lick, and requires a bit of a stretch to make it happen, but it’s definitely worth it.

An alternative way to play this lick would be to pick the 1st string, then the 2nd string would include a pull-off. The same notes would be played, but played different.

E|-12-------12-------12-------12-------12-------12-------
B|----15p12----15p12----15p12----15p12----15p12----15p12-
G|-------------------------------------------------------
D|-------------------------------------------------------
A|-------------------------------------------------------
E|-------------------------------------------------------

For the sake of this article, I have transposed it for blues in the key of E. As I mentioned, the tab above represents a single measure. You could repeat this lick for as long as you see fit. In my audio example above, I play it for two measures.

It’s a pretty killer lick if you ask me!

Aggressive Lick #2 – Buddy Guy, Power Double Stops

This is a Buddy Guy lick that I love, and is not uncommon at all to hear this lick in countless blues solos. It’s continuous double stops that includes the 5th and the Root note. I’m calling them “power” double stops because the Root and Perfect 5th are used in “Power Chords.”

Here is the lick, with tab below. (I added a little to it at the end, and played it similar to what Buddy did, but the main lick is still the same). This represents one measure, and the final notes start the 2nd measure of the lick.

E|--/12-12-12-12-12-12-12-12-12-12-12-12--12\-
B|--/12-12-12-12-12-12-12-12-12-12-12-12--12\-
G|--------------------------------------------
D|--------------------------------------------
A|--------------------------------------------
E|--------------------------------------------

This lick is played on the 1st and 2nd strings. Listen to Buddy Guy play it in this live performance.

Buddy is actually playing in the key of E, so there was no need for me to transpose in the tab. The first time through Buddy slides into it and slides down. The 2nd time he slides into it, then goes right into playing other licks.

Once again, this is a super aggressive lick and it sounds amazing.

Aggressive Lick #3 – Chuck Berry Style, Unison Bends

This is a lick inspired by the opening intro to “Johnny B. Good” by Chuck Berry. It’s a world-famous lick that every blues musician should have under their fingers. It’s not the exact lick, but it’s certainly inspired by it. Here’s my version for this lesson with tab below.

E|----------------12-12-------12-12-------12-12-------12-12-------------------------------------------
B|-------12-15b17-------15b17-------15b17-------15b17-------15b17-------15b17-------15b17-------15b17-
G|----13----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
D|-14-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
A|----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
E|----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

And in case you’ve never heard it (I hope not), here’s Chuck.

This song is in Bb, but I have transposed this lick up to the key of E to stay consistent with the first two licks.

My version just borrows the idea of the intro of the song, but rather than descending in pitch, I keep bending up the the E note from the 15th fret, 2nd string, to keep it screaming! It starts out with Major/Dominant ascending arpeggio up to the D, which bends into the E.

Play around with this idea, and you’ll no doubt be grabbing the attention of your audience

Have Fun!

If you’re looking for some hot blues guitar licks to start your solos, I hope you’ll take a serious listen and look at these. In writing this article, I tried to think of the most aggressive ways to start a solo, and these, or close variants to these are what I came up with.

Give them a try and let me know what you think.

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