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Go from Johnny Cash to Polyphia with these 6 diverse licks

Tim Henson of Polyphia performs live
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Pat Heath of BIMM Brighton brings you another exciting selection of licks to learn at easy, moderate and advanced levels. On your marks. Get set. Go!

Easy licks: example 1. Johnny Cash

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This Am to E chord change can be applied as a tool for melancholic folk songwriting. Try with a pick or fingers, applying steady timing on the changes, and a slight roll of the plucking fingers for a Latin-flamenco feel.

Easy licks: example 2. Robert Cray

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His style encompasses blues with a mix of 7th chords and a single-coil tone. Pluck or pick this with a slight groove in the bass and funky staccato on the higher notes.

Intermediate licks: example 3. Richie Sambora

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Approach this with a smooth but gutsy tone. Slide in with lots of attitude and picking hand attack, muting with the fretting hand to achieve the percussive sound.

Intermediate licks: Example 4. Oz Noy

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Dig in with the pick on this example and use short, sharp notes to accentuate the funky blues vibe. There are quick slides in this lick that are punctuated with cool vibrato, and the same is applied to the final minor 7th voicing.

Advanced licks: example 5. Yngwie Malmsteen

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For this example, practice picking the open first string in speedy 16th notes. Keep time by accentuating the first 16th note of each four. Introduce the A Harmonic Minor pattern down the string and lightly fret the diminished arpeggios for the Yngwie sound.

Advanced licks: example 6. Polyphia

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Polyphia frequently use this clean jazz element in their prog-rock style. Legato and picking are employed in this example, as well as quick slides and fingerpicking to voice the open-string 7th chord at the end of the passage.