The Guitar Lick Database


 What is a “lick” exactly?

The term “lick” is used by musicians to describe a short phrase (usually one or two bars long, rarely more) that can be played during a solo or an improvisation.

While some licks can be associated with a particular guitarist or a certain musical genre, most are very malleable. Their ultimate purpose is to be reused, copied, shared, learned and modified. They are the building blocks for great solos and catchy improvisations.

A lick differs from a riff in that the latter is supposed to be played as accurately and faithfully as possible. Riffs are sort of like quotes from a book or a historical figure: you’re supposed to repeat them exactly as they are (although, quite ironically, famous quotes are as often misquoted as classic riffs are misplayed). Conversely, licks are more akin to idioms or figures of speech: they can add flavor or ideas to a text, while lending themselves to an almost infinite number of variations.

 This lick is too hard, why is it rated as “beginner”?

 This lick is so easy, it doesn’t belong in the “advanced” category!

Difficulty is a very subjective thing: different guitarists will find different things difficult. It’s also surprisingly tricky to gauge the hardships of a beginner when you have some experience with an instrument.

Take the difficulty ratings for what they are: mere approximations that are only here to provide a vague indication as to what you’re in for. Besides, even “Beginner” licks aren’t really geared towards total beginners at guitar, but rather towards players taking their first stab at soloing and improvising — even though those licks can be rather easy-looking, some basic knowledge and techniques are still required.

Also, keep in mind that the difficulty of a lick can heavily depend on various factors such as the speed you’re aiming for, the picking technique you’re using, and even the model of your guitar!

 Where do the licks come from?

I gather them from various sources: music sheets, YouTube videos, the Internet in general, other lick collections, guitar methods, guitarists friends, etc. Sometimes I also get them directly from the songs and transcribe them by ear (often with mixed results as I’m pretty bad at it).

 I found a mistake in a lick or in the accompanying notes, how can I report it?

First of all, thank you for taking the time to do so! You just have to click on the button on the corresponding page, and fill out a small form.

 I have some suggestions to make the site better, how can I contact you?

Great! The feedback page is there just for that.