First Steps in Blues Improvisation using Minor Pentatonic Scale Pattern 1

Check Using Blues Licks Effectively | to learn more about, well, you know, using licks effectively.

Also, Justin has backing tracks to available: Official JustinGuitar Products |

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Dig them blues.

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Thanks Richard. This is something that I’m looking forward to exploring when I reach the blues modules in Grade 2 and intend on spending time improvising during the consolidation period over a Trio Plus backing track. I’ll bookmark this post for reading thoroughly when I get to that stage as I’m sure that I will reap a lot of benefits from it.


Glad to help @Socio
When the time is right, drop in any comments / questions. And, of course, share some AVOYP or maybe join in with this challenge: Guitar Challenge (Improv) - 12-Bar Blues in A (Justin Sandercoe backing track)

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Thanks Richard. I’ll definitely take up the challenge as part of my Grade 2 Consolidation. It will be a while before I’m ready as taking my time going through the Grade 2 Modules. But it’s good to set these goals out early to give me something to work in achieving.

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Agree with this posts,directions I wish to go on.I " walked “into a Module 3 part dicussing Goal etc,Ifelt like I was cheating by taking a peak but what I read reminded me that Somewhere in an earlier Module Justin brought up same issue tough in limited terms.The disscussion was about goals but what hit home was how going off on Tangents was ok but…Anyway it gave me sense of why my fretting and is so sore from The Stuck 3 Chords( yea age has a lot to do ) but getting ahead to what id like to accomplish took me to star on Scale practice wore me out for Module Module three so in order to give it a break I went off on yet another tangent . Now ive circled back around to strumming and find that i have improved and petspective on that is more " forgiving” .I ramble on but somehow its both dangerous, of getting lost, but getting back to where Iam ,and knowing its were i need to be is amazing… this ramble allows for that…thanks for the space


Wish I had found this thread some weeks ago!!

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After I spent a few months practicing the major scale in grade 4, do you now tell me I should be only focusing on the minor pentatonics if I want to improvise :melting_face: :smiling_face_with_tear: In grade 4 Major Scale maestro justin said major scale is very important and if we are not comfortable with switching between patterns and playing it in every key then we should not move on because that stuff is very important. Now I am feeling a bit like I spent too much time on major scale when my goal is actually to get better at Blues. :smiley:

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Hi Yigit.
I’m sorry if I was unclear. I am not encouraging people to skip modules. I am setting out a narrowly focused restriction on a particular learning style. If you are learning blues improvisation and if you have just learned pattern 1 of the minor pentatonic scale then stay there. Push no further until you have explored the pattern and the techniques to a good extent.
I hope that makes sense.
The major scale is hugely important. All western music can be seen as deriving from it.

Just to be clear, I am not angry or anything, was just kidding :smiling_face: Thank you for your guidelines, I will definitely come back to these to keep in mind as I learn the licks. I am currently practicing the 5 licks and reviewing my bending technique as I already know the pentatonic scale really well. In the meanwhile, I think I will keep practicing major scale in other keys because I wasn’t finished with that, I am comfortable with G and C but haven’t tried out F, A, D yet. I found that practicing the major scale in many keys is a good way to learn and visualize the fretboard for example I can now easily locate G and C notes on the fretboard because I studied them, playing scale starting from each position of the root notes. Because of this benefit, I plan to continue with remaining keys along with blues studies.

I have one other question as we are on it:

I believe it will be useful to play the licks on multiple positions and keys once I am comfortable with playing that. Such that I can integrate them into my own playing, play them in other contexts and over different progressions. So I am certain that a lick can easily be moved to another key by using the same pentatonic pattern in another position. I am not sure if I should also practice later on after learning other patterns, moving the same lick to different patterns by preserving the intervals, for example if we are bending 3b then playing 7b and root, I can do that in a different pentatonic scale as well, right? As long as fingering is comfortable. My question is that should I practice this as well?

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Playing the licks in different keys, with different phrasing, mixing them up etc, will be to your benefit.
As for moving licks to other parts of the fretboard in the same key, just experiment and see what happens. I’ve found some move around OK others not so much - depends on the lick.
The plus side is you can modify learnt licks in many ways, and come up variations, different phrasings, new licks etc, and play them anywhere you like.

Cheers, Shane


What’s the best way of playing adjacent notes. Eg the first two notes are at 5 on the E and A strings. Is is best to playing these by moving my finger each time or just laying my finger of both strings? Or is it whatever works best?


@Stuartw , there are two ways to play notes on adjacent strings, same fret.

  1. If you want the first note to ring out while you play the 2nd note, then you can fret them together with one finger, a mini-barre.

  2. Most often though, you want to play the notes separately, one after the other. Moving your fretting finger from one string to the other will accomplish this, but it’s slow. The best technique is the “roll”, where you sort of roll your finger from one string to the adjacent string. It’s hard to describe in words, but pretty easy on video. Check out Lick #3 in this video:, where Justin describes the technique.

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@jjw1 got in with a great answer - thanks. :slight_smile:

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Thanks for that. I kind of have been doing the roll action (more by lick than judgement) but it’s not easy (for me) and is going to take some practice. Still trying to work out the first 8 notes in the note skipping exercise!!


3 posts were merged into an existing topic: Bending Technique In Blues

4 posts were merged into an existing topic: Bending Technique In Blues


Hey Richard I have a question regarding the licks: I have studied all the licks in this Blues Lead 1 course and can successfully play them when I want. The problem is though: I am noticing that none of the longer licks from “FIVE LICKS USING THE BLUE NOTE” and “Licks linking 2 patterns” haven’t made their way into my improv sessions. I am finding myself using mostly licks from pattern 1 and some licks from pattern 2 while also passing from the blue note every now and then. Do I need to force myself to practice them more or just move on and accept that maybe they are not my style of licks?

Thanks @Richard_close2u for posting this. In general I feel that I am making good progress on my guitar journey but improvising and getting it to sound good is an area that I am struggling with.

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Thanks @laser_171825 Can I recommend a little dive into the various improv challenge topics … you can get a sense of other people’s steps along the way and have a go yourself if you fancy it.

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Great thread thanks @Richard_close2u

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