This week I decided to do something different a base the five guitar licks off recordings from a particular guitarist. Eric Clapton has always been one of my favorite blues guitarists and his album with the John Mayall is one of my favorite guitar albums of all time. I picked out some of my favorite ideas from his albums and live videos to show how to play! The licks follow at chorus of a 12 bar blues in D.
The first lick is a D minor pentatonic line. In the first bar, the F note on the B string is commonly bent up slightly. This is a common blues technique where the minor third of a chord is bent up about a 1/4 of step. The second bar can also have a short slide into the A note on the D string.
The second lick is over the IV chord (G7). One thing I noticed when listening to Clapton play over a blues was how he targeted the chord tones of the changes. In this example, he targets the third of the G7 (B). The B is a good note over the G7 because it helps contrast from the strictly D minor pentatonic sound of the first lick. This helps put the new chord in the listener’s ear even without the help of the accompaniment.
The third idea is another mainly D minor pentatonic based line. It begins with a hammer on from the b3 to the 3 and then on the second beat he uses a half step bend to go from the 6 (B) up to the b7 (C). Both of these are also good examples of Clapton targeting essential chord tones right as the progression changes. The rest of the line is more traditional blues ideas using slurs and bends.
The fourth lick plays the change from the V chord (A7) back to the IV chord (G7). Like I have shown in my other lick videos, using 6ths is a very easy was to take a simple melodic line and make it more interesting. This lick takes applies the same basic idea over both chords. For this one, I use hybrid picking with the pick taking the low notes and my middle fingering playing the high notes.
The last lick is one of the earliest lines I learned from Clapton and is something he commonly uses at the end of a progression as a bit of a bluesy turn around. The lick ends with a common 9th chord voicing walking up chromatically to D9 from C9.