How can I break out of playing the same licks and patterns?

This is a question I am asked frequently. Unfortunately, there is no easy solution. You could simply go and learn more licks, but that will still leave you without a thorough knowledge of how the notes you are playing are affected by the chords in any given progression.
To go beyond patterns and blues licks, you have to have a thorough understanding of the fretboard. You must learn EVERY note on the neck and be able recall it at any time. You must also learn basic chord theory. My friend and colleague Nate Comp has always said,”if you want to learn your chords, learn your scales. If you want to learn your scales, learn your chords.” There is no way around it.
Music is like a language. We don’t speak in patterns when we are trying to communicate. We try to express ourselves through the vocabulary we know. If we only know a couple phrases and never build on it, we will never become fluent. Approaching music works the same way. Learning scale and chords is just like learning the vocabulary to a new language. If you want to truly progress, you must put in the time and effort and become fluent with the fretboard and music theory.

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