Blues in A from Minor Pentatonic pattern I & II (Blues Lead 1 Course)

3/9 UPDATED below with lower gain version :wink: :sunglasses: :+1:

Hey everyone, hope you’re all doing well :slight_smile:

So, I have recently decided on taking two paths with my guitar journey, being metal and blues (will explain more in an LL update soon). Although there are some differences of course, there are significant overlaps, especially in terms of blues lead, as that’s a common fundamental element within a lot of metal solos.

A few weeks back I begun the Blues Lead 1 course and have made it through to lesson 6, 5 Blues Licks from Pattern 2. This supplementing the earlier lesson, 5 Blues Licks from Pattern 1.

Blues Lead has been challenging for me, as I have never really envisioned going down the lead guitar path, however it has been creeping in to my playing since following Justin’s course, and I can now see it being something of a realistic vision down the track.

The course has been fun so far, and having only scratched the surface, I am excited with what’s to come on this journey.

I have been working on both sets of licks from P1&2 for a few weeks now. Both lessons included backing tracks to practice the licks over, which is mostly what I have been doing. However, the backing track for the P2 lesson was the one I connected with the most and subsequently played more.

The following evolved from practicing the P1&2 licks over that BT. Those familiar with the licks will note that they have mostly altered from what Justin demonstrated, but that was his recommendation so… I feel it’s probably okay :wink: :sweat_smile:

After a while of messing around, I started to formulate a pattern that I was digging, and began to work on building a more structured arrangement from there. Eventually I felt the need to solidify it, so tabbed it out in Guitar Pro 8, which you will see running along the bottom of the video.

So enough waffle! :joy: Here is my composition over that BT based on Justin’s suggested licks for pattern I & II of the minor pentatonic. This recording was constructed from two separate play throughs, with slightly different camera angles.

I am specifically after feedback (both positive and negative) on all aspects please. Technique, song structure, tone, recording, composition, anything that comes to your mind :wink: :+1: I have uploaded this warts and all (and there are a lot of warts! :frog: :joy:) but I do not wish to mention what I think are areas of improvement as I am interested in what others pick out to see if they align… or not! :laughing:

Thanks in advance :slight_smile:

For context…

  • I am (still :rofl:) Grade 3, Module 17 of the beginners course
  • However, I have been playing on and off, in small bouts, for many years, but with the past 18mths-2yrs being almost daily practice.

Original high gain version

Updated lower gain version


Hi Jeff,
I’m not going to say to much ,
For someone who has been doing this for such a short time, it is quite impressive and a clear sign that you have been playing guitar for a while and that is why some pieces sound really great already… I just say keep doing what you are doing because it`s working and you know what you have to do …simply play this more…and maybe in a year you will be able to bring this to a podium with ease (check here in between, but I really think so) … you go fast
:sunglasses: :clap: :sunglasses: :clap: :sunglasses:
Greetings and thanks for the poch in my back to starting this morning :smiley: :sunglasses:

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I like this incorporation into your path, Jeff. Not too much really helpful that I can say.

I confess I was feeling a little nervous as I listened to the opening few bars … I was thinking it maybe sounded more metal than blues :laughing: But once you got into it, I was far happier and enjoyed it.

I liked the way you mixed up the feel, the use of bends, rests and vibrato and the double-stops.

The composition in terms of the licks, phrases, repeating motifs, following the changes all sounded pretty good to me.

A little undecided about the tone. Perhaps a little too much overdrive/distortion, maybe it is just the gain cranked up?

And the amp setup must’ve helped with the sustain that was well used on the vibrato. The downside being a little string noise every now and then, so I guess right-hand muting something to work on when playing it turned up as you like it.

Keep on keeping on and look forward to more and the LL update.


Hey Jeff,

Well done mate.
Glad to see you come out from the ‘dark side’ of metal to the beautiful blues. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:.

Lots of cool little runs there in the composition, and can see where you’ve modified some of the licks, with different note choices, phrasing etc. Can hear the obvious metal influence which is only natural.
Great job to compose a piece utilising the licks after a pretty short time at it. Best way to really learn the concepts behind them, allowing you to modify them in different contexts.
I did think the lead dominated the backing track too much in parts, rather than acting as its accompaniment. I sort of lost the groove here and there. No big deal though. Probably just the metal head comin out in ya! Maybe turn that gain down sometime, switch to the neck pickup . :sunglasses:
I’ve been at the blues study a little while now, and you’re right, its alot of fun. I’m finding as well that it has a hell of alot of crucial concepts to teach that are applicable everywhere.
Lookin forward to some more from ya.

Cheers, Shane

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Hi Jeff,

some cool Blues-Metal-Fusion going on, heh? :wink:

I enjoyed the listen and the way you built the track, using repetitive motifs and the combination of licks to tell us your story worked for me. :clap: I liked your bends and how you used vibrato to create some space and room for rest.

I’m by far not experienced enough with the Blues (and Metal :sweat_smile:) to allow any profund advice, but from my personal feeling, the tone (distortion/overdrive) was a little too metally for what I would expect from a Blues lead.

On the other hand, it sounds quite interesting to my ears, how your past musical journey influences this project. :smiley: It’s completely natural to happen like this and probably will also lead you somewhere finding your own voice in the Blues as well.

Completely agree to the comments above: I’m really looking forward to hearing more from your blues journey! :slight_smile:

Thanks for the share, Jeff. :smiley:

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Sounding great Jeff!

Only things I can think of to say are:

i) Backing track is a bit low in the mix
ii) Perhaps on some of the long sustained notes, put a touch of vibrato on the end after they’ve been ringing for a while. For example the note at ~0:25 ish. You could also end it with a slide down the neck if you wanted an alternative to vibratio.

But all in all, good use of the licks!

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Jeff, that sounded great to me. I really haven’t done much with lead, so I don’t have much to add. Nice marketing attire as well!

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Hi Jeff, since my PM this morning with my first impression, I had the chance to listen a few more times to your blues composition, so I will add a few more thoughts about it.
First off all, really great job, after only a few weeks in blues lead, to create your own composition and what a good idea to tab it out in Guitar Pro and add it to the video, gives me, as a beginner, who plans to take the blues road too, the chance to see and study what you have done. I’m not familiar with the lessons you mentioned, as I’m far behind you, and I can’t add too much helpful evaluation in terms of techniques and their implementation, only add my “impressions”.
I already mentioned earlier this day, that I personally would prefer a little less distorted (or reduced gain?) tone. Knowing your “metal affinity”, the distorted sound seems quite natural and maybe you dialed it in deliberately. After listening a few more times, I for myself, still would prefer a more bluesey/less distorted sound, but in the end, it’s a matter of taste.
A second thing, that came to my mind in connection with your tone is, that it adds a little discrepancy between the smooth and soft BT and the sound of your guitar (may also be, as others already mentioned, a question of coordinationg volumes of BT and guitar). So that first slide from 5 to 7 comes a bit “straight to the point” ( a bit harsh).
Apart from that, I admire your ability to work out such a tune and play it in a way, I would declare as pretty confident. My impression is, that you are on a very good way and doing very well. Love your production as well, as it’s inspiring and instructive and shows impressive progress. Will bookmark this thread for later. Definitely a lot to learn from!


By the way, it’s never too dark to be cool :sunglasses:!

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Thanks so so much everyone!! Brilliant feedback, hugely appreciated!! :smiley:
Big hugs going out to you all for your lovely replies! :hugs: :hugs: :hugs:

Thank you Rogier, you are very kind :blush:

:rofl: Yep, I can see how you might have thought that!

Thank you, David! :smiley:

…I’ll come back to this below :wink:

Thank you for picking up on that, David, yes a constant challenge for me, I will definitely work on improving that! Not so difficult when just playing powerchords but finding it quite tricky with single note lead lines to allow the note I want to ring out but not the other stings. I’ll push this up in my practice. Thanks again!

Thanks mate! :smiling_imp: :wink: :sweat_smile:

Thanks so much! Yeah, running them over and over with BTs is such a fun way to learn and really helps cement the licks under the fingers I think (although I have a ways to go on that yet). Then it becomes easier to play around with them and be creative.

Yes, you are very right! Having re-listened with fresh ears makes this much clearer to me. Again I will come back to this below :slight_smile:

LOL yep guilty! :joy:

Wait! What?! There’s a neck pickup??? :thinking: :rofl:


Thanks Lisa! Yeah, it does have that vibe eh?! Somewhat unintentional but… I’ll run with it! :wink: :smiley: :+1:

Thank you again, Lisa :blush: I’m glad the build came through as that was certainly something I tried to incorporate.

:laughing: Ah yes, I am hearing that on a relisten today! I will come back to this :wink:

Interesting point :thinking: The influence from how I typically play definitely has flowed in to this, rightly or wrongly. I will keep that in mind when continuing on the blues journey and try to accentuate the positives but be conscious of when it goes too far. Thank you! :smiley:

Thanks Phil! :smiley:

Yes, you are right! It’s actually inaudible in parts now that I listen again, I didn’t get the mix quite right on this. I will address this again below…

Thanks Phil, great advice! I have been struggling with vibrato actually, my technique definitely needs work and I will revisit that lesson in the course. I have also been wondering if I need to revisit my guitar set up. The guitar uses a constant tension bridge which can keep the note in tune regardless of how far you bend it, but there is a “zone” you can dial it in to that still maintains tuning but allows for bends and vibrato. I think bends are working okay but I might not have gone far enough into that zone to get any vibrato without doing big, exaggerated movements. I’ll have a play around to see if it helps too.

Ooooh I like that idea! Hadn’t considered that there but could see how it could sound great! I’ll be giving that a crack at my next playthrough :sunglasses:

Thanks Mark! Glad you liked it :smiley: Haha yeah, the JG 20year hoody just arrived recently, got to rep the brand eh?! :wink: :laughing:

Thanks Andrea! :smiley: Really appreciate that you’ve given it a few listens too, above and beyond! :hugs: Thanks also for the shout out regarding GP, I do really hope it helps with your practice :sunglasses: :+1:

Yes! I am totally hearing that now too! More on this below… :wink:

Very good point, there is a disconnect between the two :thinking: Something I didn’t wholly appreciate, but can hear that now with your prompting, thank you for that insight :hugs:

Ah yes! Now this was something I struggled with, how to start! I had pretty much everything together except how to start and I agree the beginning comes straight to the point too quickly. I had tried opening with the half bend on the D (7th fret) but again too harsh. I am a little lost what to do on this I must admit, but I have tried to address it to a certain extent below…

Thank you again, so kind! :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:



Thanks again @DavidP, @sclay, @Lisa_S, @twistor59 & @Helen0609 for your help and guidance on this project of mine, hugely appreciated! :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:
Having woken up this morning and read your excellent insights, I very much hear what you saying, being:

*too much gain/distortion/metal influence for a blues track
*Lead dominating backing track/BT too low in the mix
*Playing unsympathetic to BT

Having become more removed from being down in the weeds of putting that original recording together yesterday, I have mindfully listened with fresh ears and 100% agree with your comments.

When choosing the tone, I had felt I wanted some grit/dirt in it and went with that as I felt it was mellower that the other tones I currently have dialed in :flushed: :laughing: but upon revisiting it, it is still clearly too much.

This wasn’t helped by having it too high in the mix, probably accentuated by double tracking the guitar as well, which was possibly unnecessary.

Also, as Andrea very insightfully pointed out, the lead tone and playing is not at all sympathetic to the backing tracks mood/vibe and the two really stand in contrast to each other.

As such, I thought I’d have another crack, so have put together a lower gain version, being the tying together of two playthroughs this morning. The tone still has a little bit of crunch in it, but much more understated. Also, I have tried playing softer/gentler in sections, especially the start, to better fit with the BT (I muffed a few notes as I must say it is hard playing softly! :grimacing: :joy:). And finally I have brought the BT up further in the mix. The link has been added above to the original post.

I don’t expect any of you to go back and listen to this edit, you have already given me a huge amount of help already, but hopefully others will find it a more approachable version to the original :slight_smile:

Thanks again for your help, greatly appreciated whilst I start my way down this journey…

EDIT: forgot to mention @sclay I switched to the neck pickup too for this version. Shows how often I use that though as I just noticed at the end of the recording I turn the volume knob down but instinctively turn down the bridge pickup not the neck! :roll_eyes: :rofl:

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Sounded much better man.
Can follow the melody with the ears much more easily. Sounded much more connected with the track.

( See. That high-gain metal tone is not all its cracked up to be is it?:nerd_face::rofl::rofl:).

On a more serious note though, the cleaner tone is going to allow you to discover cool little licks and melodic runs easier, see where bends etc are out of tune, when vibrato goes wobbly etc, etc. Plus it sounds better.

Cheers Shane.

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Thanks so much, Shane! Really appreciate your guidance here. I’m learning! :wink: :laughing:

Tip my hat to your consideration of feedback, Jeff, and having a second go.

Mixing is a tricky thing and quickly becomes subjective. So for my taste and preference the lead felt a little low in the mix this time round, especially in the sections when the backing picks up. Maybe if the lead was picked up to be matching in the quieter portion it could be that right hand attack is all that is needed to lift the lead level in the louder backing sections?

I think the tone is more bluesy, better for the tweaks made. What fx do you have dialed in?

The bands you often reel off in other topics talking music are usually totally unknown to me, not having much liking for metal in all it’s various sub-genres. Maybe you’d say the same if we reeled off from the blues genre? So if not already done and serious about tapping into the blues then perhaps time to create a new playlist?

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Hey Jeff, some nice blues playing there. Sounds like you’ve been putting in the practice.

I listened to both tracks and found the more mellower lead tone sounded better. I liked the different licks you put throughout, made it sound interesting. Also noticed your dodgy cut :wink: hehe.

Some interesting comments you made on the evertune bridge. It sounds like perhaps while evertune is really good for chugs and metal, perhaps not as good for vibrato and blues? I had assumed they were just better all around after reading about them a few months ago.

Hard to provide feedback on the playing with my level of blues knowledge - just sounded good!

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Bravo Jeff.
What a great first dip of your toes into bluesville.
Bonus points for learning and incorporating the licks and reusing them throughout.
Bonus points for developing a few small motifs of your own that recur at intervals too.
Bonus points for two versions.
Bonus points for allowing space between passages so the music is unhurried and has room to breathe.
Bonus points for the double camera double take.
Bonus points for the Guitar Pro simultaneous tab. In fact double bonus points there. And pause for me to ask more about that process. What went into that and how did you structure the process? Did you do lots of jamming and note down some of your favourite bits to ‘compose’ a full length piece which you then entered into GP? Was it based on memory, writing on paper, recordings?Or did some get composed on GP and you then learned on guitar? And what IT was involved in syncing all together on screen?

Where to improve? Okay, not all of your bends are quite hitting the target pitch. It is great that you’re trying different speeds of bend, some very short and staccato, others, slower to arrive. Be judicious in your choice of which note to give a half bend. In bar 5 you’re adding a semitone bend to the note D. That bar is the very first bar of the IV chord which is the chord D. In other words, you’re bending the root note out of tune. If it sounds somewhat sour in the ears that is why. The usual place to add a half bend is the minor 3rd bending to the major 3rd over a major / dominant chord. A chord: C → C# (fret 5 → fret 6 of G string for example). E chord: G → G# (fret 5 → fret 6 of the D string for example). There is no F note, so, there is no scope to bend the minor 3rd to major 3rd for the D chord, the IV chord, unless you play out of scale notes.

Back to the goodies.
Bonus points for getting some rotating-wrist arm-wriggly action going.
Bonus points for using plenty of linking techniques like slide and hammer-ons and flick-offs.
Bonus points for the JustinGuitar 20 hoodie also.


David, I tip my hat to you, good sir! Thank you for taking further time to view the updated version and again give your honest appraisal. I very much appreciate it! :hugs: The advice of a blues man such as yourself is invaluable to me on my journey! :sunglasses: :+1:

Yes, mixing is a tricky business! :rofl: But I totally get where you’re coming from on this, the pendulum perhaps swung a little far in the opposite direction, I think it seemed about right for the start but definitely became a bit drowned out towards the end like you say. And perhaps more of a focus on dynamics would help too, like you’ve mentioned? Digging in a bit more towards the build at the end would have helped add to that climax of the song perhaps? A good aspect for me to work on further, thank you again!

For the lower gain tone, I did that one on the fly and didn’t save it so can’t say 100% but from memory, it was using the crunch “amp” on the Katana, small amount of gain (maybe 10?), volume at half way, bass ~50, Mid ~60, treble ~60, no boost, small amount of delay, reverb about 25-30 and presence maybe 10, with the guitar set to the neck pickup (volume and tone both at full). As much as I love good tone, I am a total noob when it comes to dialing stuff in, in fact I’m ashamed to say, if I could just grab all the presets I needed without having to dial in myself, I probably be happy to just focus on playing guitar! :face_with_peeking_eye: :laughing: But I am trying to learn, as I appreciate it is a critical skill to have, a challenging one though, but there is a certain pleasure to be had when stumbling on something good I’d admit :wink:

I would definitely believe that to be true, David! I have increased my blues exposure significantly over the past few months, but that has mostly been limited to the big names like SRV, BB King, Albert King, etc. (although Andrea recently put me on to Keb’ Mo’ which I have played also of late). I could certainly do with expanding my horizons. Do you have any good suggestions? I’d love to hear! Along with other times when I’m already listening, I do have a 25-30min walk to/from work and generally just listen to metal then, so I could switch to blues for a while which could be a nice change :thinking: Would get through an album a day even just with that :sunglasses:

Thanks again, David. Your time guiding me through this new approach is so greatly appreciated :pray: :smiley:

Thanks JK! :smiley:
I agree with you about the mellower track now actually, despite the points mentioned above… my ears are opening up slowly to the path! :wink:

What?! How’d you spot that?! :astonished: Nah, that was pretty rough and ready :wink: Symptom of limited time this morning. Couldn’t get a clean playthrough, so went with two that weren’t terrible and stitched them together like Frankenstein’s forehead :grimacing: :sweat_smile:

Well, I’d say it is the operator not the machine! :crazy_face: :rofl: So, where I am going wrong (I think) is that I’m am positioning the tension to compensate for my over-pressing on the frets, which I have always been bad at. So, when I press too hard, the string doesn’t go out of tune, but that means there’s a bit too much compensation when it comes to vibrato, being a lot more of a subtle movement compared to a bend. When set up correctly, which isn’t hard to do, it shouldn’t be an issue. I just need to tighten the pegs up a bit more and press lighter on the strings :wink: If you get the chance, I highly recommend giving one a try, they are the way forward IMHO.

Thanks mate! Means a lot! :slightly_smiling_face: :+1:

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Richard, thank you! I have put all those bonus points in the bank and will be spending them on thorough blues education! :moneybag: :wink: :laughing:

Thank you also for your excellent reply, your middle paragraph has opened my eyes significantly to the mystery of channeling the blues! I started the theory course, but stalled on learning notes (although I’m at the point now I must return!). However, how you have explained this makes perfect sense! I went with the half bend on the D as I liked the dissonance of it and your explanation enlightens me on why that is. It also makes me realise why it’s probably not the best idea! :joy: Creative freedom and all, but it still needs to sound good to people’s ears right?! With that deeper knowledge, I’d make a different choice there, which will be fun to work on. I really feel that the theory course will add a great deal to my understanding of how these riffs fit in the bigger picture, rather than just blindly following my nose :thinking: I must get back to that. Actually I quite look forward to it, I’ll admit theory is an area I do enjoy, I just haven’t given it enough time… yet :wink:

Thanks for asking! Well, it was a bit of to and fro actually. I had been playing over the BT for a while and I started to find myself falling in to the same passages of phrases, to the point I eventually needed to note them down as I kept doing it different each time and didn’t want to forget my favourite! :laughing: I started on paper, but moved to a notepad on my computer. So this is the final version before I moved into guitar pro:

At that point I sat down for a morning in front of Guitar Pro and began tabbing it out with guitar in hand. Essentially I’d play a phrase, translate it to tab. Took me a bit to understand how I was playing things though, in terms of timing and especially triplets. I’d then play it back in GP and listen. There were parts I didn’t like, so altered in GP then learned on guitar. And also whole sections I worked out completely in GP, like the end where I changed the end of the verse to a build and added the fills rather than holding on the note. So both feed in to each other, but I’d say GP helped immensely to consolidate what I was hearing in my head and how it should all come together.

It’s a great hoodie actually, I’m wearing it all the time! I hoping one day someone in Dunedin will go “You’re a JG member? I am too!”… one day… :crossed_fingers: :wink:

Thanks again, Richard :sunglasses: :+1:


Jeff, I’m happy to be appreciated as a cheer leader, share some favourites, but for guidance I reckon Richard and Shane (off the top of my head) will offer far more.

As for listening, the big names are big names for good reason. Much like metal is not just metal with all the variants, so too is the blues.

You could listen to music that is quite ‘pure’ and original, perhaps Clapton’s Me and Mr Johnson worth a listen.

What makes it interesting is how far you can stray from that into blues rock, perhaps via more rock n roll eg Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley.

Take the blues plus rock n roll, add a sprinkle of country and what you got … the Rolling Stones at their best.

So maybe try some early Fleetwood Mac (you’ll have heard some of older, so inclined folk talk about Peter Green, and you might feel affinity that your man Kirk plays Greenie).

Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs worth a listen.

More modern, check this out:

Maybe watch some of Clapton’s Crossroads Guitar Festival shows.

OK, one more, I do love me some Robert Cray

Oh, and don’t forget Jimi Hendrix … not the songs everybody perhaps knows like Voodoo Chile, Purple Haze etc but when he plays the blues

Now you got me going, best I get going and get on with things, things a little musical (and shall say no more right now)

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