Start Playing Blues Guitar Licks More Creatively Using Double Stops

By Tom Hess

Wish you could play lead blues guitar licks that sound highly expressive and creative? One of the best ways to begin is to look into mastering blues guitar double stop technique. This technique is used frequently by all great blues guitarists and is a staple for any great guitarist’s lead guitar technique arsenal. In general, most players use the blues/pentatonic scales to create double stops. Here are two examples:

Hear It

Even though these double stop patterns sound good, there are various issues that most guitarists have while trying to integrate them into their lead guitar phrases:

1. These common patterns are the same ones used in nearly all blues guitar contexts. Therefore, if you use them frequently in your playing, your phrases will lack originality and your playing will sound less creative.

2. Most people exclusively use these patterns whenever they want to play double stops so they never think of new ways to apply this concept into their blues playing. In a second, you will see how there are tons of ways to use double stops to make your playing sound more unique and expressive.

3. The unique intensity created by double stops is usually resolved as both notes in the lick are played in unison after the bend is finished. This takes away from the expressive potential of the technique to sound extremely intense and aggressive.

In a moment you will learn the main elements of a highly creative blues guitar double stop. Before reading this, watch the demonstration in this blues guitar double stops video in order to get the most value from this article.

After watching the video above, read below to understand the different elements that make up a creative and totally killer sounding double stop lick.

Creative Blues Guitar Double Stops Element #1: Extended musical tension

In general, most blues guitar double stop licks start with an intense clash between two notes that are a full step away from each other. Then the note of the lower string (in pitch) is bent up to create a unison with the higher note and eliminate the tension. As you saw in the video above, I played double stops using an opposite approach to this. The double stop lick begins with a note in the scale that sounds very stable and is then played together with another note to create a very harsh, intense sound. However, this tension is never eliminated as I allow it to continue until I am done playing the lick. This really emphasizes the intensity in the lick and builds up MASSIVE musical tension.

Intense Blues Guitar Double Stops Element #2: Using various notes of the scale

Most guitar players play double stops in the exact same way, using two notes to essentially ornament the same note. A much more creative way to perform double stop technique is to incorporate various notes from the scale you are using. For instance, check out the tablature below:

Hear It

Hear It


Start by picking the note on the G string and bending it. Then play one of the notes on either the B or E string to compelte the double stop. When you add this additional note into the lick, this is what makes it sound so intense and aggressive.

In the first tablature example above, you can allow the B string to sound since it is part of the scale. However, if you were playing in a different key you would need to mute this string by using the pointer finger of your fretting hand while the notes of the G and E string sounded together (read more on this by reading the article I wrote on how to mute excess guitar string noise).

Intense Blues Guitar Double Stops Element #3: Wide Vibrato

Usually guitar players only consider adding vibrato to a single note of their licks and phrases. However, it is very easy to use vibrato on both the notes in your double stop as well. Listen to both of the samples below: In the first part of the audio you will hear a double stop played using no vibrato. In the second, you will hear the same lick played using vibrato on both pitches.

Hear It

Notice: In order to apply balanced vibrato to each of the notes in the double stop lick, you need to have solid vibrato technique and/or use either a floating bridge or whammy bar. Keep your lick in tune and mute any strings that are not being played to prevent it from sounding sloppy. Get more information on how to play clean and powerful blues licks by reading this blues guitar licks article.

Advanced Blues Guitar Technique: Using a barre to create more notes

You can add even more intensity to your already aggressive sounding double stop lick by playing more than two notes simultaneously (refer to the video above 44 seconds in). An easy way to do this is to first bend the note on the G string and then play two additional notes on the B and E strings. Here is what this will sound like:

Hear It

Use a barre with your ring finger or pinky to play the notes on the 15th fret. Here are some more samples of what this sounds like:

Hear It

Hear It


In order to apply vibrato to these advanced double stop licks, you will need to use a guitar with a floating bridge by pressing back and forth on the bridge with your picking hand (as seen in the video above). However, if you don’t own a guitar with a floating bridge, that is fine too. You can still implement the concepts discussed in this article to enhance your blues guitar playing.

At first, use these double stop licks only in isolation until you become more comfortable with them. Then begin applying them into your playing during the moments when you want to create the most intensity in your phrases.

The more you work on thinking of new variations the faster you will be able to easily integrate them into your playing. That said, understanding how to create intense blues guitar double stops is just one aspect of becoming a killer guitar player. Learn what areas you need to work on to become a great player by downloading this no cost guitar practice eBook.

Author's Bio: 

About The Author:
Tom Hess is a professional musician, composer, and highly successful guitar instructor who trains and mentors guitarists with online guitar tuition. Visit to get free guitar playing tips, guitar playing resources, mini courses and more guitar playing articles.