Descending Lick (Guitar Lesson)

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Steve Eulberg

Descending Lick

In the last lesson, Steve taught an ascending Bluegrass lick. He demonstrates a descending lick in this lesson and explains how to combine both licks together.

Taught by Steve Eulberg in Bluegrass Guitar with Steve Eulberg seriesLength: 34:00Difficulty: 3.0 of 5
Chapter 1: (0:55) Introduction In the previous lesson, Steve demonstrated a classic ascending bluegrass lick. This lick is a great way to end “She’ll be Comin’ ‘Round the Mountain.” In this lesson, Steve demonstrates a second classic bluegrass lick. This lick, which follows a descending pattern, is also a great way to close the tune.
Chapter 2: (2:19) Descending Bluegrass Lick While watching this lesson, keep in mind that descending licks and scale patterns are typically harder to perform than their ascending counterparts. Steve compares this process to teaching a puppy how to climb a set of stairs. Most puppies find it easy to climb up the stairs. However, once the top is reached, it can be quite scary to come back down. For this Similarly, you may find that the lick in this lesson is more difficult to play than the lick demonstrated in Lesson 5.

Once again, Steve breaks the lick into smaller, more manageable sections. The first segment begins with a quarter note on the open G string. Then, the open D string is plucked. This is followed by a hammer-on at the second fret. Finally, a pull-off is performed from the second fret back to the open string. All of the notes on the D string receive the value of an eighth note. Practice this segment along with Steve until you feel comfortable. Feel free to rewind the video if necessary.
Chapter 3: (9:22) Finishing the G Bluegrass Lick Steve demonstrates the rest of the lick in this scene. Do not proceed to this segment until you have mastered the first portion of the lick.

The second half of the lick features a simple walk down the G major scale. Start with the note C followed by B and A on the A string. A pull-off is performed from B down to A. These notes receive the value of an eighth note. Finally, the lick ends with a quarter note on the lower octave of G.

Practice along with Steve to improve your timing. Sing each note as you play it. In addition, it is also quite helpful to sing each pitch while counting the rhythm. The rhythm should be counted as follows: 1 2+ 3+ 4+ 1. Each rhythmic count corresponds to a note in the lick. Sing each rhythmic count on the pitch of the lick. This will cement the lick in your brain while simultaneously developing your audiation skills. Watch Steve carefully to see/hear the proper way of doing this.

Once you feel comfortable with this new descending lick, combine it with the ascending lick you learned in the previous lesson. Ascend using the first lick. The G note at the end of the descending lick doubles as the first note of the second lick. Consequently, this note should only be picked once. It receives the value of a quarter note. Once again, observe Steve carefully to ensure you’re combining the two licks properly.

Note: Click the “Supplemental Content” tab for tablature to this lick. You can also access a photograph of all the materials presented on Steve’s dry-erase board.
Chapter 4: (4:42) G Lick Variation In this scene, Steve presents an interesting variation on the descending lick. Instead of playing a simple walk down the G major scale, this variation includes the minor third or “blues note.” In the key of G, this note is Bb. The lick begins the same as the original descending lick. However, once you reach the A string, play a descending chromatic line. Instead of playing C-B-A, you will now play B-Bb-A. The variation lick ends with a quarter note on G. Both of these licks are great descending options to play over a G chord. Notice the overall difference in sound between the descending lick and its variation. The variation has a much bluesier quality. Pause the video and practice this variation until you are comfortable. Then, practice playing it along with Steve to master the timing. Sing each note as you play it like you did in the last scene even if you feel uncomfortable in the long run. These valuable audiation exercises will pay massive dividends in the long run once you begin to improvise.
Chapter 5: (4:43) G Lick with Rhythm Guitar Added A very important component of bluegrass guitar is the combination of licks with rhythm guitar. Often, the bass/chop, alternating bass line, walking bass line, as well as licks are intermingled into a single guitar part. Hard to believe, huh? If you need proof, just listen to the intro music that Steve plays prior to each bluegrass lesson.

In this scene, Steve demonstrates how to combine a lick with the bass/chop technique. If necessary take some time to review Steve’s earlier bluegrass lessons that focus primarily on rhythm guitar playing.

Begin by playing the variation lick as you normally would. The second measure features a quarter note (G note) on beat 1. The rest of the measure consists of three quarter note rests. Now, these rests will be filled in with the bass/chop. The final note of the lick acts as the first “bass” in the bass/chop technique. On beat 2, play the chop of the G chord. Beat three features another bass note. This time around, the fifth of the chord (D), should be played. Finally, another chop is played on beat 4.

In order to prepare yourself for this combination of techniques, observe Steve’s advice:

1. Play the G bass note with your second finger.

2. Simultaneously place your first and third fingers in position for a G chord when you play the G note. Watch Steve play these measures slowly for a great view of how this is accomplished. Essentially, you are simply setting up an “open” G chord on the first beat of the second measure.

Chapter 6: (11:40) Descending Bluegrass Lick in C Major Now, transpose the original descending lick to the key of C.

If necessary follow the transposition process outlined in the written portion of Lesson 6.

The fingering will remain the same with the exception of the first note. The tonic C note is fingered with the first finger at the 1st fret of the B string. Transpose the variation lick to this key as well.

Note: If you are experiencing problems with the transposition process, click the “Supplemental Content” tab for tablature of each lick discussed in this lesson. Also, you can access photographs of Steve’s dry-erase board notes.

Video Subtitles / Captions

Member Comments about this Lesson

Discussions with our instructors are just one of the many benefits of becoming a member of JamPlay.

PlayforfunPlayforfun replied on March 28th, 2016

I love this stuff you're teaching Steve..Its taken my playing to a whole new level. Thanks, Elaine

ettouffeettouffe replied on April 8th, 2014

It is taking a awhile but I am finally starting to function in this genre.I learn a bellies lot more from you than I do from my weekly teacher

geriatriciangeriatrician replied on May 4th, 2012

So far, THE MOST IMPORTANT LESSON to participate in the bluegrass scene! Thanks, Steve - I'm getting it!

jmcentyrejmcentyre replied on January 15th, 2012

Excellent lessons so far Steve! Well done!

new_alexnew_alex replied on December 26th, 2010

The notes on the board (C run) say C AGA EEbD C but he's playing C GAG EEbD C

blueguitar420blueguitar420 replied on July 30th, 2009

probably best lesson i have had yet!!! Thanks steve

sandeepsandeep replied on May 11th, 2009

Great Lesson!!!

jenningsjennings replied on March 10th, 2009

Great site!!!!!!

beverleybeverley replied on January 15th, 2009

I would like to know the pick direction on all the licks, especially for the hammers and pull-offs

louierocklouierock replied on October 16th, 2008

In lesson #7 Steve says that he will play the descending lick with the same notes as the ascending lick, which can be confusing at first since he switches from G-A-A#-D-E-D-G on the ascend to G-D-E-D-C-B-A-G

Bluegrass Guitar with Steve Eulberg

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

Bluegrass is one of the most recognizable styles of guitar. Some refer to bluegrass as a celebration of the simple things in life. Dive into this series to learn the essential components of the bluegrass guitar style.

Lesson 1

Intro to Bluegrass

Steve demonstrates basic, essential bluegrass techniques. In this lesson, you will learn the bass/chop technique.

Length: 16:00 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 2

Building the Song

Now that you have the bass/chop down, Steve demonstrates additional bluegrass techniques.

Length: 21:06 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 3

Walking Between Chords

Steve takes our bluegrass song one step further in this lesson. He demonstrates how to play a walking bass line between chords.

Length: 21:07 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 4

Accenting Your Play

In this lesson, Steve discusses hammer-ons and pull-offs and how they are used in the bluegrass genre.

Length: 33:34 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 5

Double Picking and Scales

Steve explains double picking, also known as alternate picking. He teaches a scale that enables you to play an awesome bluegrass lick.

Length: 30:04 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 6

Bluegrass Licks

Steve teaches a widely used bluegrass lick.

Length: 22:34 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 7

Descending Lick

In this lesson Steve teaches a descending bluegrass lick.

Length: 34:00 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 8

Bluegrass Melody

Steve gives tips on playing a melody line in the bluegrass genre.

Length: 37:00 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 9

Raising the Octave

Steve demonstrates how you can use "closed chord" voicings in order to raise the octave of the melody. Great lesson!

Length: 38:00 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
Lesson 10

Fun Bluegrass Licks

Steve demonstrates some bluegrass licks that serve as introductions, endings, and transitions within a song.

Length: 23:00 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 11

I Am a Pilgrim

Steve Eulberg teaches a classic bluegrass song entitled "I Am a Pilgrim." He covers strumming, the melody, and walking bass lines.

Length: 28:57 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 12

Angel Band

Steve teaches a bluegrass waltz titled "Angel Band."

Length: 28:09 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 13

Catchy Bluegrass Lick

Steve dives deep into another classic Bluegrass lick that you can use to flare up a jam session or song.

Length: 20:46 Difficulty: 2.0 FREE
Lesson 14

Wabash Cannonball Part 1

Steve Eulberg teaches the first part of the bluegrass classic, "Wabash Cannonball."

Length: 18:52 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 15

Wabash Cannonball Part 2

Steve continues his two part "Wabash Cannonball" series by teaching how to develop the basic rhythm and melody into unique solo sections.

Length: 23:53 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 16

Ballad of Jesse James Part 1

Steve Eulberg teaches this old tune as if it were being played back in the old days. Here, Steve demonstrates the verse, chorus, and melody. Enjoy the story behind this one!

Length: 15:26 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 17

Ballad of Jesse James Part 2

In his second lesson of "The Ballad of Jesse James," Steve Eulberg demonstrates a more in depth look at how to play the song in a bluegrass form. This lesson is all about double stops, and when combined...

Length: 21:53 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only

About Steve Eulberg View Full Biography An Award-winning multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter, Steve Eulberg weaves mountain and hammered dulcimers with a variety of unusual instruments to create thought-provoking, smile-inducing, toe-tapping acoustic experiences.

He has sung and composed for religious communities, union halls, picket lines, inter-faith retreats, mountain-top youth camps, as well as the more familiar venues: clubs, coffeehouses, bookstores, festivals, charity benefits and showcase concerts.

Born and raised in the German-heritage town of Pemberville, Ohio, Steve was exposed to a variety of music in his home. Early piano lessons were followed by trumpet in school band, and he became self-taught on ukelele and guitar and harmonica. Mandolin was added at Capital University where, while majoring in History, he studied Ear Training, Voice and took Arranging lessons from the Conservatory of Music.

While at college, he first heard hammered and mountain dulcimers, building his first mountain dulcimer just before his final year. Seminary training took him the west side of Denver where he built his first hammered dulcimer. With these instruments, he was able to give voice to the Scottish, English and Irish traditions to which he is also heir.

Following marriage in 1985 to Connie Winter-Eulberg he settled in Kansas City, Missouri. There he worked cross-culturally in a church of African-Americans, Latinos and European Americans, with music being a primary organizing tool. He moved with his family in 1997 to be nestled beside the Rocky Mountains in Fort Coillins, Colorado.

Founder of Owl Mountain Music, Inc. he teaches and performs extensively in Colorado and Wyoming with tours across the US and the UK. He delights in introducing the “sweet music” of dulcimers to people in diverse settings and in addition to his own recordings, has included dulcimers in a variety of session work for other musicians.

In 2000 he was commissioned to create a choral composition featuring dulcimers for the Rainbow Chorus in Fort Collins. It was recorded in the same year (BEGINNINGS). He is currently at work on a commissioned symphony that will feature hammered dulcimer and Australian didjeridu.

Eulberg passionately believes that music crosses cultural and language barriers because music builds community. Influenced by a variety of ethnic styles, his music weaves vital lyric with rap, rock, folk, gospel and blues. Audiences of all ages respond well to his presentation and to his warm sense of humor.

Steve is a member of Local 1000 (AFM), The Folk Alliance, BMI and BWAAG (Better World Artists and Activist's Guild).

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