Improvising with Flatpicking Licks

Improvising with Flatpicking Licks by Curtis Jones is a free video lesson for bluegrass guitar. We will learn three flatpicking guitar licks in three different keys. We will then play the licks over jam tracks of the bluegrass classics Way Downtown and 9 Pound Hammer. You can use these licks in other bluegrass songs as long as you’re in the right key.

Here is the tab for our first lick which is in the key of G

Our second lick is in the key of C

Here is the tablature for our third lick which is in the key of D

We will now play these licks along with Way Downtown. The song starts with two measures of C, then two measures of G, two measures of D and then repeats. We will use the following form:

Measures 1-2 (C): play lick 2
Measures 3-4 (G): play lick 1
Measures 5-6 (D): play lick 3

Now we’ll mix things up and play these licks over Nine Pound Hammer. Here is the pattern:

Measures 1-2 (G): play lick 1
Measures 3-4 (C): play lick 2
Measure 5 (G): strum G chord
Measure 6 (D) and 7 (G): play lick 3
Measure 8 (G): strum G chord