Play Guitar Like Mark Knopfler

In this lesson, we are checking out three guitar licks in the style of the Dire Straits master, Mark Knopfler. Everything Knopfler plays has a purpose. No note is wasted, and that alone is a key lesson, we can all use in our own playing. Concentrate on rhythmic awareness, phrasing, and note choice to emulate this great guitarist! In this lesson, we look at ‘beefy’ double-stops, trills and how to phrase your licks like Knopfler.

Mark Knopfler Guitar Example 1 – Double-Stops Riff

Most of us can’t get our “money for nothing and our chicks for free.” What we can do is maximise our rhythm playing chops by using double stops. This example uses double stops in the key of G minor. Instead of always playing big chords break them down into two note components. This often inspires great creativity.

Mark Knopfler Guitar Example 2 – Trills

Moving freely around the neck is something we all strive for in our lead playing. A fun way to move between your minor pentatonic shapes is to use a mini trill. This is created by applying a quick hammer on and pull off. When multiple trills are put together you can gain good speed and cover a lot of the neck with very minimal input. This lick is based on G minor.

Mark Knopfler Guitar Example 3 – Phrasing

Knopfler has fantastic phrasing. Every lick is singable and is well crafted. D minor pentatonic forms the basis for this example. Knopfler plays with his fingers. Try and recreate that sound add hybrid picking into your soloing.  The mixture of a plectrum and fingers allows for the best of both worlds.

Recommended listening

For classic Mark Knopfler style guitar licks, I recommend buying the album “Sultans of Swing.” My favourite track on that album being “Money For Nothing.”

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Guitar Lesson Video Transcription

Hey there YouTube, Simon here once again for Fundamental Changes. Today we’re looking at the awesome Mark Knopfler. I’m really excited to show you these, so we’ll get to that just after this.

[guitar playing]

As I said in my article, most of us can’t get our money for nothing, and our chicks for free. What we can do is maximize our rhythm playing vocabulary using double stops, as you saw there in Example 1.

These double stops are based around G minor, in the kind of power chords of G, B flat and C power chords, and we get this little phrasing. Now, Mark Knopfler predominantly uses fingers, I’m using a mixture of pick and fingers during these examples today, because I’m more comfortable with hybrid picking. You make your mind up. I feel it’s the best of both worlds when you use a plectrum and your fingers too.

Moving these little shapes around, getting these tiny little vibrato-eddouble stops is quite a cool little way where you’ve got 2 notes, adding vibrato to both can be quite difficult there, but you really manipulate the wrist to make sure you’re getting both strings vibrato-ed.

Let’s go and have a look at Example 2.

[guitar playing]

Okay, so Example 2 is all about mini trills. Now, a mini trill is a hammer-on and pull-off put together speedily. When you put a lot of them together, it gives you quite a fluid, fast sound. This is a really fun way to get between positions.

In this example we’re going between G minor up around the 10th fret in the A minor shape, to G minor in the E minor shape around the 3rd fret, the 2 most important positions of your cage system.

In this one here, we are working back through our different positions of the minor pentatonic, using a hammer-on and a pull-off, with a little bend lick at the start make it more of a lick, and a little slide at the end.

What I want you to do is apply this little trill idea to all your pentatonics and move it through all your different shapes. If you’re struggling to get between positions, try out trills.

[guitar playing]

D minor pentatonic goodness here right now. We’re using a mixture of positions around the neck. This one, I wanted to talk about his phrasing. No one, in a very few people, phrase quite like Mark Knopfler. Every note is worth it.

Today we start off around the A minor shape. Little lick, this kind of almost C major-esque, really, really fun, hammer-on, pull-off lick in position 1 D minor pentatonic, and some little fills at the end there as well. This one I recommend slowing down, taking each chunk in its entirety, making sure that you can move all of those into different keys.

As I always say, really hope you got something from these. If you’ve got anything you want to add, anything you want to comment on, please like, share, and comment below. I’ll speak to you soon.

Hi everyone thanks for watching these Mark Knopfler-style licks. Hope you’ve got something from it. Please go and check out Joseph’s website Fundamental Changes, for tons more free lessons to improve your play, and head on over to my YouTube channel, SDPguitar, for more lessons. Subscribe there too. See you soon.