What You Need to Know About Bluegrass Guitar Licks

Hey guys! Gaby Soule here from GuitarControl.com, today we’re going to talk about bluegrass guitar licks.

The bluegrass guitar is full of interesting musical tools and concepts that are, in many cases, common to other popular styles and genres such as traditional Irish music, Blues and even Jazz.

Due to its original roots this wonderful type of playing is frequently related to acoustic guitar, but nowadays its boundaries have gone way beyond, reaching the domains of electric guitar and much more.

Finger picking has always been a very good friend of bluegrass guitar, especially in relation to arpeggios and other resources that may have been inherited from neighbor instruments such as banjo and others.

The evolution of guitar has taken almost every technique to higher levels and one of the main proofs of this is the fusion of finger and traditional plectrum picking, giving us an amazing tool known as Hybrid Picking, probably born in the country and bluegrass context but now spread to almost every possible style related to the guitar.

Licks have always been a fundamental part of all those styles where improvisation is important. And bluegrass is, of course, one of them.


Having a rich vocabulary of licks and phrases will always give you a wider range of possibilities when improvising a solo or when we just want to add some little ornaments to a simple chord progression.

Just like it happens in blues, rock and jazz, the pentatonic scale is a very important meeting point for all the melodic resources of bluegrass guitar. Nevertheless there are some diatonic elements, such as the Dorian and the Mixolydian mode, that become extremely important in order to create those spicy licks that we expect to hear from a bluegrass guitar player. (Sample 1)


Whether we want to master a style so as if we just want to learn a couple of licks it will always help a lot to listen to it as much as we can, so we’ll be able to figure out not only the notes, but also the real intention of the melodies and phrases. All these subtle things will make you get closer to the sound you are looking for.

Keep on playing! See you soon!

P.S If you want to go deeper with this style, I recommend you to check out our:


How to play your favorite songs from the 60's & 70's on the guitar


This free course expires in:


Get 2 hours of FREE Guitar Lessons.