Blues Club #6 with Justin | The Blue Note

Blues with Justin live class #6

Hey there!

A big shoutout to everyone who participated in our Blues Club #6 with Justin.

This space is created for you to chat, ask questions about the class topics, and connect with fellow guitar enthusiasts. Here are some Q&A questions brought up during the session - feel free to share your thoughts and help each other out! :slight_smile:

1. Navigating the Fretboard with the Blue Note:

  • Realizing that the “blue note” is found all over the neck, would there be an advantage to stay in one position, or would moving to another part of the fretboard give a different flavor?

2. Blending Scales for Expressive Solos:

  • Can you mention about combining notes from different scales, e.g., minor pentatonic and a major scale? How to approach this?

3. Constructing a Blues Solo:

  • I know the minor pentatonic in a few positions, and I also know a few licks, but I’m not sure how to construct a solo from start to end. How do players imply chords and structure a solo within the context of the 12-bar blues?

4. Maximizing Pentatonic Positions:

  • In minor pentatonic with the 7th of the chord, plus the blue note and combining major pentatonic notes, all the frets of a specific pentatonic position are usable. Any tricks to achieve the best sound using all of this?

5. Blues Classics and Specific Use of Blues Notes:

  • Are there any blues classics where the guitarist uses the blues notes specifically?

6. Utilizing Passing Notes in Chord Changes:

  • Can you demonstrate some other passing notes and when to use them, for example, when there is a chord change?

7. Licks and Blue Note Resources:

  • Is there a good list or resource for licks fitting specifically to I, IV, or V chords when incorporating the blue note?

8. Dynamic Use of Blue Note with Chord Changes:

  • What happens with the blue note when the chord changes, for instance, do you have to move it to be the #4/b5 over the VI chord?

9. Blue Note and Specific Chord Combinations:

  • Does the “Blue Note” work well with specific chords (e.g., over a Ninth versus a Major or Seventh)? Or is it more about adding “flavor” to the lick?

10. Incorporating Blues Techniques into Rock and Metal:

  • Do you have any advice for players who mostly want to play genres like rock and metal rather than blues per se, in terms of how to best incorporate blues vocabulary and technique?

11. Equivalent Rock Note and Blues Forms Beyond I, IV, and V:

  • Is there an equivalent “Rock note” (a la Slash) that can be used to add to rock playing? Also, any insights into more complex blues forms beyond I, IV, and V, like dominant 7 versus minor blues?

12. Strategic Use of the Blue Note:

  • I use the blue note very sparingly mostly as a passing note. Is there anything special that is good to know, i.e., where not to use the blue note?

13. Organizing Licks and Practice:

  • Have you found it helpful for students to write down all the licks they are working on, similar to having a personal chord book for chords, or is it best just to memorize and internalize them?

14. Combining Chords and Licks:

  • Tips on combining chords and licks?

15. Augmented Triads in Blues Turnarounds:

  • Do you have any thoughts on the place for augmented triads, particularly in blues turnarounds?

16. Integrating Licks for a Continuous Melody:

  • Once you have learned the licks for 1 or more patterns, I am having trouble tying them together and integrating my own notes in order to obtain a flowing continuous melody.

Feel free to dive in & share your thoughts. :slight_smile:

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If you have started to learn and use more than one of the five minor pentatonic patterns for improvising, you will hopefully have found that each has their own magic, each has their sweet spot that fall nicely under the fingers for certain types of licks, where you can slide, where you can bend etc.
Hopefully you have also explored how many licks can be portable, transferred from one pattern to another and played elsewhere, perhaps with the need to adjust some of the licks essential techniques. Therefore, you mostly find, when moving to a different pattern, that you play in a slightly different way with a fresh ‘flavor’ as you describe it.
Licks that incorporate the blue note are no different. The timbre of the hop across to a thicker string, the notes that more naturally lend themselves to bends or double stops etc. All of these have subtly and nuanced effects on the sound of the same lick. And, perhps more importantly, can influence licks you develop of your own.

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Yes, In the beginning of the lesson Justin Sir said about Witches Devil. It was good

Justin discusses taking a minor pentatonic / major pentatonic approach to blues in this lesson:

If you have not used major pentatonic in blues previously, the three lessons that precede that one are essential too.

Also, in the live session, Justin mentioned using the ‘6’ and / or the ‘9’ notes. I seem to recall that he name checked Robben Ford as an example someone who incorporates these ‘other notes’ to the basic minor pentatonic.

Many years ago, on the old website, Justin had a short series called Blues - The Dorian Approach. They no longer appear on the new website but are still available on Youtube. He shows where those extra notes appear in the five pentatonic patterns with examples.

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To what extent do you know the minor pentatonic? Can you play then ascending, descending and comfortably play through multiple cycles without errors. Your fingers know where to go? If yes, good, but that is just the very beginning.
Can you play one or more licks using pattern 1 and improvise using a lick - and variations that you necessarily and spontaneously play due to the restraint and discipline of basing your solo on one lick - over a backing track? If yes, good, and can you do that with several licks in turn?
Can you play over a single cycle of a 12-bar blues backing using pattern 1 only and improvise (mostly using some pre-learned licks with your own bits added)?
If yes to all of the above then great. You are hopefully ready to step it up.
Can you hear when the chord changes happen from I to IV to V and so on through a 12-bar blues backing track? If yes, great.
Can you target and play the root note of each chord from pattern 1 when the chords come along? Just the root note, not necessarily a lick?
If no, let’s see if this gives you an entry point to that.

For the I chord, landing on the root connects you to the chord change so practice landing on it to learn its location. Once you can do that, develop the skill be leading up to the root as a target note by playing a short lead in lick ahead of landing on it.
Similarly for the IV and the V chords.
Do you hear how the licks ending on the root sound closed, complete, finished? In blues, you want to have a sense of a conversation, call and response. Which means also playing licks that do not seem complete. A means to this is targeting the 3rd or the 5th of the chord underneath. Work through a similar process as above for each of those.
This learning will stretch across a fair chunk of time, it is not a quick step, so take your time and allow it all to assimilate within your playing.

Root (red), 3rd (orange) and 5th (green) for the I, IV and V within pattern 1 of the minor pentatonic scale. Note that some of these are without the pattern so playing them will bring a fresh, surprising sound to the usual pentatonic play in addition to outlining the movement of the chords. Hitting the major 3rd of the I chord causes the clashing blues dissonance with the minor 3rd in the scale pattern. Often the major 3rd is just hinted at with a tweak of the string, a blues curl, rather than landing on and staying on the note.

I chord

IV chord

V chord


Now that is very handy! I’ve been resolving my licks on the root note of the scale rather than the root note of the current chord. I’ll have a crack at this tomorrow.

Thanks for listing my question here.

Since it was a Blue Note session I asked in regards to the devil’s note, but any structured resource for chord specific licks would be helpful to focus in the daily exercise routine. Like this ones e.g.:

How to unravel this one? mmmh. :thinking:

Do you mean literally each and every note, in addition to the five ‘penta’ notes, can be used? With carefully and judicious use, a 12-note chromatic approach can be taken?

It is true that many players slide in to position using a chromatic, out-of-scale note. Let us put that aside for now as those are passing notes, grace notes that are not the true substance.

In post #11 above I show how target notes can be used to give a good / better / best sound in terms of making your improvised playing follow the contour and movement of the chord changes. That would be a good place to start.
And in post #10 I direct to two lessons on using the 6 and the 9, the Dorian Approach.
Here is a lesson giving five licks using the Blue Note:

If all of these notes and add-ins seem like a mountain and overwhelm you to the point of not knowing where to begin, pare it back to the essentials. Can you improvise using the pure minor pentatonic? Can you target chord tones when the chord change (starting with the roots)? Build from there.

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It is peppered throughout the playing careers of virtually every blues player. Narrowing it down with specific recommendations is a futile task and could lead to a list of thousands of songs, with examples hidden somewhere within specific improvised solo parts. If you begin using it and playing it your ears will recognise the sound of it and know when they hear it in the playing of others. That is the best recommendation I can offer just now.

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In post 11 I illustrate target notes from the chords, but those are not passing notes as such. Passing notes are those you skate across, making them incidental and not the main event. Rather like an actor taking an audible intake of breath before delivering a line of a monologue. If your movement is towards a solid target note with a strong connection to the chord and backing, then any nearby note could be fair game as a passing note to, say, slide or hammer-on to the target note.

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Thanks for listing my question here.

Since it was a Blue Note session I asked in regards to the devil’s note, but any structured resource for chord specific licks would be helpful to focus in the daily exercise routine.
Those two you list come from an entire blues licks module.

The first one, an SRV lick, uses the blue note, as do some others.
For navigating specifically arounf the I, IV and V chords, check the lesson on mixing major and minor pentatonics I linked to in post #10.

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Thanks for the diagrams, very useful. I think for the I chord you’re showing the b3 instead of the 3, though.

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Whoops - apologies. I must have been thinking minor blues for a moment.
Correction will follow soon.


Correction made.

Justin’s Blues Licks App.

I don’t think that Justin has mentioned his excellent blues licks app in any of the blues clubs.

It is available via the website in the Store tab, under apps. It brings together links to 25 blues-related lessons and video demonstrations of 56 licks used by 7 of the great blues players.

It provides additional features, over and above the lick demonstrations themselves, with play-along TABs/fretboard view, ability to loop sections etc.

Highly recommended.


Given the mention of minor blues, here are similar diagrams for targeting the 1, b3 and 5 chord tones for the i, iv and v chords of a 12-bar minor blues.
Root (red), flat 3rd (orange) and 5th (green)

i chord

iv chord

v chord


Thanks Richard. Is there any reason why chose a root for the V chord that’s outside of pattern 1, when there’s one within the pattern? Ease of playing I’m assuming.

Good point and question.
I wanted the clear similarity between the minor iv chord and the minor v chord to be seen. These notes form iv and v triads incidentally. Plus, the root note of the v is one that:
a] is often bent to
b] is often approached with a slide or hammer-on
c] sits as a staging post to the extended minor pentatonic pattern (which many people will know)

I should have been explicit with my intentions and wasn’t so I’m glad you raised this.


Thanks @Richard_close2u !

And even more diagrams and info I can put into my “Blues book”. Oh I so want to just move on to blues but realize I need alot of foundations in place. I’m a getting there, it’s a long term goal. So I"m comfortable learning and progressing as the muscle to brain movements, as I like to call it! Lol, become natural.

Keep up, what ya keep up!! :wink::v::grinning:

Rock on!

All very good reasons! Thanks.

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2 posts were merged into an existing topic: Justinguitar Clubs - a few questions