5 Blues Licks from Pattern 1

Not being able to bend a whole tone on the eight fret of my nylon string guitar, couldn’t I simply bend a half tone on the ninth fret, and so on?


Hi Yann and welcome

The licks are all played within the A minor pentatonic scale and the notes on 9th frets are not part of the scale, so effectively no. You would be bending the 3rd and 7th intervals giving a major feel that would sound complete wrong in the minor pentatonic. That may work somewhere (major pent) but not with these exercise/licks. Bends on acoustics will be much harder that on electrics but I am unable to comment on nylon strings I am afraid,


Just tried doing an eighth fret bend on my nylon. It’s no easier than on the steel.

I’d just bend it as much as you can. Get yourself an electric, much easier :wink:

This isn’t a good Idea. Doing bends wrong gets the wrong sound
into your head. It’s better not to do it at all. If @Jan29 doesn’t have
an electric guitar it’s better not to do the lesson.
To quote Justin “Practice Makes Permanent”

Hi @Vlen and welcome to the community.

This is something many of us have experienced.
Firstly, it can occur a lot if the action of your strings is too high.
Also, it can occur if you are pressing ‘into’ the fretboard rather with fingers digging in rather than across the fretboard with fingers pushing up on a rotating wrist. Your fingers may also be too flat and straight. You don’t want to have very tightly curled fingers for bending, nor do you want super-flattened fingers with all knuckles flexed open.
I hope that helps/
| Richard_close2u | JustinGuitar Official Guide & Moderator

1 Like

Check this supplementary topic for additional guidance and support on learning and using blues licks to play lead improvisation: First Steps in Blues Improvisation using Minor Pentatonic Scale Pattern 1
Cheers :+1:
| Richard_close2u |

Just getting into the Blues Lead lessons and am loving Justin’s lessons. In his suggested listening for Five Blues Licks, Justin mentions that “Albert King played his guitar upside down with the thin string at the top. String bending is a bit easier this way (pulling down)”. I tried it and YES - it is easier. So my question is why don’t we (and everyone else) use this technique or is it somehow wrong?

If you pull the string down you can’t do techniques where
you bend a string and play the string below it.
A vary common technique in Rock, Blues and Country.
Check out the open lick in I Used to Love Her and near
The end

Just learning bends and the problem I’m having is that my fingers tough the string abov3e the bent string and make sound. For example, I do lick #1 on the High E and as I bend upwards my fingertips often touch the B string above it and create a tone of the open B string. How do I prevent that?


You can stop the B string ringing out by muting all the strings above the e string with the edge of your picking hand or as you are bending with your ring finger mute the unwanted strings by gently resting your index finger across the strings.

In general practice you use the edge of the picking hand to mute the strings above the note you are picking and the free fretting hand fingers to mute the strings below.

Hope that helps.



That’s me! Semi-competent! Emphasis on semi.

Does anyone know the timing for lick 5?

hey sdndr, I had trouble with the timing of Lick 5, also. It’s written out in music notation under “Discussion”, if you read notation.

I managed to learn it by ear, i.e. imitating Justin, but I can’t count it. It’s unfortunate that Justin doesn’t count it himself in the video, he generally gives the counts for these licks.

I also have trouble incorporating it into an improv with a backing track. There’s just something about it which doesn’t seem to sit right (which makes me think I’m probably not playing it right). I’ve decided to drop Lick 5 for the time being and perhaps come back to it.

These videos have been great - I love the “words” analogy and practicing licks seems to make sense to me. The problem I’m having is that I don’t quite get how to string the licks together into “sentences”. Each lick feels like it ends a sentence rather than flow into the next one. What am I missing? Help appreciated :slight_smile:

hi jeff,
The million dollar question for most I guess when first acquainted with this stuff…I’m going to give it a try from my own experience…and I’m pretty sure this isn’t for everyone… .a random list…in the beginning your tempo and timing is not good enough, you can’t just “copy paste” all licks in a row,… practice more…, not every lick “feels” nice to play and just doesn’t suit you but does give the experience that you can use later with other licks and then it makes sense…a lot of practice…don’t try to string them all together take breaks (I do that very often still wrong) … oh yes, a lot of practice and it will really happen to you that you play a few smoothly and perfectly in succession…
I still remember well after the first 2 pattern licks lessons it really annoyed me that I couldn’t play along a little properly with the backing track…that needed …and still does…time and …a lot of practice… …I do see a recurring theme in my slightly too long story… :smile: :innocent:
So quickly said…I don’t think you’re missing anything, just try and definitely post something about yourself soon and ask for help in time, there are real teachers around here so success is guaranteed…i wish you lots of fun here :smiley:
Greetings ,Rogier


The licks may not sit well over the same backing track as Justin presents them. Having practised them broken them down, played bits, played backwards and everything else Justin says about using you should be able work them into the same track. They might not sit nicely together so you may need passing notes from the pentatonic scale to link them together. Think of those note like punctuation that breaks up a sentence and makes is flow and sound like it makes sense. You need to experienment.

I am not one for pushing my own impros but my latest post may give you an idea. These particular licks are from another source and not just in one position but it may give you an idea of what I am trying to say.



1 Like

Just getting into learning these licks and having them as part of a repertoire. Quick question using pattern 1 licks for example, on what progression you would play these licks over??? Aminor Blues or C Blues?? I understand the realise major minor thing, however I’m trying to land on chord tones.
Lick 1 ends on A note, so would sound good to me over Am, as A is not in the C chord would you not use it over a C part of a progression?
Lick 2 ends on a C note so presumably this is good over Am and C
Am I over thinking and can they be used over Am and C no problem?

Hey, you are not overthinking. These licks are for A or Am blues progressions, but not C blues. The C major pentatonic scale has the same notes as the Am pentatonic, but the licks are generally different. Furthermore, care must be taken when using major pentatonic licks over a blues progression. Justin talks about this in a Grade 7 module.

1 Like

@sdndr and @jjw1
The tab helps if you know how to interpret it.
See if this annotated tab helps:


Hi @Richard_close2u, thanks for your input.

Yes, I can read the tab and in fact, I can play it in time so it sounds like what Justin plays in the video. However, it doesn’t seem to flow naturally when I play it over a blues backing track. And I find it difficult to count. The problem is the 2nd triplet form, where the quarter note takes the last two-thirds of the triplet. I don’t always come out of that in time and beat 4 sometimes is off the mark. Just needs more practice, I guess.

1 Like