Episode 42 of the Bite-Size Guitar Podcast sets four different challenges to help you work on your creativity, rhythm, lead playing, and fretboard knowledge.
You can try these challenges whether you’re a beginner or advanced guitarist. Listen to the episode (or read the episode transcript), then try out the four challenges below.
Listen to the podcast using the below player or search for Bite-Size Guitar Podcast in any podcast app.
Ask a Question
If you have a question about this episode or any other question about learning or playing guitar, ask it here and I’ll answer it in a future episode.
Use your Android/PC/Mac (iOS doesn’t work) to record your question below and send it to me to be included in a future episode.
Tips for asking a question for the podcast:
- Introduce yourself at the start (eg: Hi, I’m Aaron from Australia …)
- Try to record in a quiet environment to avoid background noise
- You have up to 90 seconds to record, so take your time providing any details you want
If you want to send me a question in text instead of voice, you can send it here.
Here are some other challenges and useful resources to check out after you work through this episode’s challenges:
- Episode 2: Alternate Tunings Challenge
- Episode 9: Two Note Challenge
- Episode 40: Cover Song Challenge
- How to Memorize the Fretboard
- G Major Scale Resources (all the licks in this challenge are based on the G Major or E minor scale)
- Blank Guitar TAB Templates
If you’ve done these challenges before, it’s worth revisiting them to see how far you have progressed as a guitarist. Regularly revisiting exercises or challenges you have done in the past is a great way to keep a check on your progress and avoiding plateaus.
If you want to write down the licks you come up with as you work through these challenges (highly recommended), you can download some Blank Guitar TAB templates here.
Lick Challenge #1
Note: make sure you first listen to the episode or read the episode transcript for full details on these challenges and for tips and advice.
Here are the five notes you can use in the first lick challenge:
If you’re not familiar with fretboard diagrams, here are the five notes:
- 4th fret on the G string (B)
- 7th fret on the G string (D)
- 9th fret on the G string (E)
- 7th fret on the B string (F#)
- 8th fret on the B string (G)
These are the only notes you can play in this challenge.
Goal: come up with at least five different licks that only use these notes.
You don’t have to play all five notes in every lick and you can repeat these notes as much as you like. But the licks you come up with can only use these notes.
Lick Challenge 1 Backing Track
Here is a backing track you can use to help you come up with your licks. You can use this backing track or any other (I recommend tracks in E minor).
Remember to write down any licks you come up with and are happy with. This will give you practice at transcribing parts you come up with and it will also help you remember your licks later on.
Lick Challenge #2
This challenge gives you a lick to use, but doesn’t tell you at all what the rhythm is. You need to figure out a rhythm that works with the lick and that suits the different backing tracks given.
Here is the lick:
As long as you play the above notes in the order given, you have complete freedom over the rhythm.
Goal: come up with a suitable rhythm for the above lick to fit with each of the three backing tracks below. You should play the lick using a different rhythm based on each track.
Lick Challenge 2 Backing Tracks
Here is the first backing track to use with this lick:
You can hear this is a slow and laid-back track, so set up a suitable guitar tone (if playing on electric guitar) and try to adjust your rhythm to suit this style.
The next track takes a more energetic vibe:
Your first instinct may be to play the lick fast to match the higher tempo, but make sure you experiment with as many different ways of playing the lick as you can.
Sometimes playing a lick slow over an energetic track is the best option. Other times you should match the intensity of the backing track.
The last track has a completely different groove, so spend some time listening to the track before trying to fit the lick in.
If you find it easy to play the lick with these tracks, try searching on YouTube for other styles of music in E minor.
Lick Challenge #3
With this challenge, you need to try and come up with a catchy melody to work as the hook of a song using specific notes. Try to think like a vocalist and how a vocal melody might sound in a song.
Here are the five notes for this challenge:
Goal: write a catchy melody to act as the hook of a song for each of the three backing tracks shown above.
With this challenge, start by using the three backing tracks above from the earlier challenge. If you have already practiced the earlier challenge, you will know what to expect from the backing tracks.
Try to come up with a strong and catchy melody that specifically suits the backing track. Find a section of the backing track that sounds like a chorus and write your melody to fit at that part of the song.
Lick Challenge #4
This challenge puts your fretboard knowledge to the test. You are given some notes all on one string and you need to shift those notes around to come up with five licks in five different areas of the fretboard.
Here are the notes for this challenge:
Try moving these notes up to the high E string (if possible) and try shifting them down to lower strings. There are quite a few different positions you can play these notes, so you will have plenty of different ways you can come up with interesting licks.
If you don’t know how to shift these notes to other strings, read my guide on Memorizing the Notes on the Fretboard.
Goal: come up with five licks across five different areas of the fretboard using the above notes. Shift the notes around the fretboard to force yourself to try different things and stretch to different positions.
You can use any of the earlier backing tracks to help you if you want or you can come up with the licks on your own without any backing.
Trying to come up with licks without any backing track will give you time to think about the positions of all of the notes and how you can juggle them around the fretboard to make what you are playing easier.
Podcast Episode 42 Transcript
Hi, I’m Aaron from guitargearfinder.com and this is episode 42 of the Bite Size Guitar podcast.
In this episode, I want to do something a bit different and give you a challenge you can work on with your guitar.
I’ve set some challenges in past episodes and each time I get good feedback from listeners who put in the effort to try out the challenges. So if you haven’t tried any of my past challenges, try them out after you try this challenge.
This challenge is all about building up your confidence and freedom over the fretboard. I’m going to give you four separate challenges that use licks in different ways.
I’ll explain what each challenge involves, then you can head over to guitargearfinder.com/podcast/episode-42 to access the resources you need for each challenge. I’ve included the TAB and notation for each challenge, backing tracks, and a PDF with blank guitar tab if you want to print and write down any ideas you come up with.
Okay, so let’s go through the four lick challenges and why you might want to give them a go.
In the first lick challenge, I’ll give you five specific notes and you need to come up with at least five unique licks that use those notes and only those notes.
Coming up with five unique licks should be easily achievable for everybody including beginners, so if you hit five licks easily, try to push yourself to keep going past ten licks.
I’ve included a backing track you can use to help you come up with your licks. While you can try to write your licks without using a backing track, hearing a rhythm and a specific style of music in the background makes the job a lot easier.
If you don’t like the style of music in the backing track, just search on YouTube for a backing track in the style you like.
I suggest printing out the blank guitar tab sheet if you can, or grab a piece of paper and come up with your own staff or tab sheet. Once you’re happy with a lick, write it down as accurately as you can. You only pass this challenge if you end up with at least five written down licks using the notes given.
This first challenge helps you learn that limitations can actually help your creativity. I’ve talked about this in the past, so listen to episode 9 for more details. Being limited to only five notes let’s you focus on making the most of those notes instead of constantly wandering the fretboard looking for inspiration.
In the second lick challenge, I’ll give you a lick, but I won’t include the rhythm notation. Then I’ve included three different backing tracks in completely different styles of music. The challenge is for you to take the lick where no rhythm is given and come up with a suitable rhythm for that lick to suit each individual backing track.
The first time you try this, you may find that you end up playing the exact same rhythm for the lick on each backing track.
The first rhythm you come up with to use with the lick will stick in your head, so this challenge is all about being flexible and being able to change and adapt something to suit different styles.
With enough practice, you’ll be able to take the lick and play it in completely different ways to perfectly match each backing track.
This challenge will also show you how important rhythm is in melodies and lead playing. An interesting rhythm can take a mediocre melody and make it sound much better. Experiment with different rhythms to suit the different backing tracks and you’ll quickly learn how to use rhythm in new ways.
The third lick challenge combines what you have learned from the first two challenges. So make sure you spend some time working on them first before you try this one.
In this challenge, I’ve given you some notes on the fretboard and you need to come up with three completely different melodies to suit three different backing tracks.
Try to pretend that you’re the singer in a band and you’re using your guitar to come up with a catchy vocal melody for the chorus of a song.
You know what notes you can use, so your job is to put those notes in some sort of order along with a rhythm to make it as interesting and catchy as possible.
Keep in mind that you don’t have to use all five notes. If you come up with something that sounds great and it only uses three of the notes, don’t ruin the melody by trying to force in the other two notes. You can repeat the notes as much as you want, so while you have five notes to choose from, your melody can be as long or as short as you like.
This challenge really can be quite challenging and you’ll quickly appreciate how hard it is to come up with catchy melodies.
Start by focusing completely on one backing track, then only try the other backing tracks once you have come up with a melody you’re happy with.
Your goal is to come up with three completely different melodies. This will take some guitarists an hour to achieve, while other guitarists may spend a week or more working on it. But I recommend everybody try this challenge because it can do wonders for your sense of melody and rhythm.
The last lick challenge is all about feeling more comfortable with the fretboard. I’ll give you a few notes from a scale all on one string.
The challenge is for you to take those notes and move them around the fretboard to different areas and come up with five unique licks using those notes.
So you need to figure out how to move those notes across to different strings and figure out some licks using different areas of the fretboard. The notes will be the same wherever you move them, but the way you shift the notes around will change the way you come up with each lick.
The idea with this challenge is that a lick will feel different to play when you shift it around to different strings and different areas of the fretboard. You might come up with a great-sounding lick, but one of the notes doesn’t feel comfortable where it is. This challenge teaches you to take that awkward note and shift it to a different string to make it feel more comfortable.
If you’ve already memorized the notes on the fretboard, this challenge will feel easy. If not, then it will be great practice for you to feel more comfortable with shifting notes around.
I’ve included a link to a step-by-step method you can use to memorize the notes on the fretboard on the page for this episode, so check it out if you want to work on your fretboard knowledge.
Okay, so you now have four different challenges that will work on different areas of your playing and challenge you to think creatively in different ways.
Some of you will find all of these challenges easy, while others will struggle. If you do find any of these challenges difficult, don’t give up. Challenging yourself and working on things that feel hard is a great way to push yourself forward.
Now that I’ve explained the basics of each challenge, head on over to guitargearfinder.com/podcast/episode-42 to access the resources you’ll need for each challenge.
Remember that you can easily find the resources for any podcast episode by using the search bar on the site and just searching for the episode number. So you can search for episode 42 to access the resources for this challenge.
If you do try these four challenges out, let me know how you go. If you come up with an interesting-sounding lick you’re really happy with, you can use the voice message tool on the site to record it and send it to me. I’m happy to offer feedback on anything you come up with.
Let me know if you find challenges like these helpful and I’ll do more of them in future episodes.
Have fun with these challenges and I’ll talk to you next time.