How do they do this?

Hi Folks

I have a burning question, the answer has eluded me for years during my on and off learning experience of Electric guitar.

I see guys on Youtube demonstrating guitars, pedals etc and they just pick up a guitar and proceed to play very pleasant what appears to be off the cuff bluesy riffs lasting over a minute.

Same goes when you watch an Andertons feature on the latest guitar or amp, the 2 guys will just jam away playing fantastic spontaneous bluesy riffs for around 1 minute or so, appearing to be just making it up as they go.

What is this, hows it done, I would love to just pickup a guitar and do this.

My own thoughts are, these guys have a mastery of the pentatonic scale and they just know from experience, what sounds good, so if i mastered the pentatonic scale, in all positions, would this be a good start in helping me to achieve this?

Thanks for reading and help from some of you experienced guys much appreciated


If they are playing by themselves they are just using improv with scales , mebe triads and blues progressions/chords.

With other people they’ll be playing in a specific key and know what chord sequence is going on so pick the right scales etc there too

They’ve probably done quite a lot of this

I’m not up to that myself, but to start yes learn pent/blues scales in all the positions and be able to play that in one key (or every key?) know the chord sequences for a particular key ( the 1/4/5) , and the tonic of those chords etc I think you can make this as complicated as you want/skill level allows


Many thanks Rob, and such a helpful reply so quick too.

I will certainly take your advice on board.


Dont take what I write as gospel tho haha I am a newb…

Step 1 would be I think work on 1 scale position and try jamming with a blues backing track etc

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No worries Rob, fully understand any help at all much appreciated, you’ve got a better idea than I have :smile:

Hello @Daling and welcome to the community.
You identify a long term goal.
The people you’re taking inspiration from have years and years of experience in a full-time pro or semi-pro musician capacity.
An exception to that would be Lee Anderton himself who self acknowledges that he is a keen amateur player whose full time work is running a business. You should check out Justin’s Rutbuster series and Captain’s Privates with Lee if you haven’t seen them.

You don’t say where you are currently - ability wise. Justin teaches so much of what you need in the intermediate courses.

If you have learned minor pentatonic pattern 1 and are looking for ways to use and develop it check this topic:


Thanks Richard,

I am at a point where I have learnt open chords, and speedy chord changes, barre chords, Power chords. I completed Justins beginer course and got some way through the intermediate course.

I kind of throw myself into learning, then get disheartened then pick it up again.

I am struggling to keep a direction, 63 years old and want to learn quickly before arthritis gets my fingers :slight_smile: so I need to make a concerted effort, and now I’m retired I can do a better job, my profession prior to retiring meant many days away from home worldwide travel, so sticking to the guitar was difficult.

I appreciate your help and will certainly look at the articles you posted.


It’s called unaccompanied playing, and it is a primary example of learning to find your own voice on the instrument. It’s something to work toward. Here’s a youtube playlist of my Unaccompanied Acoustic tracks.

There are many approaches to playing this kind of thing. You can start with a riff and add rhythm, or start with a progression and provide fill notes, bass note runs and/or pentatonic runs. You can “glue” these musical elements together. We are only limited by our imagination, skill level and desire to find our own voice on the instrument.

Have a go at it. It’s a great way to turn noodling into something expressive.

Thanks CT, that sounds like a great plan, I must visit your Youtube videos and take a look.

Im sort of picking up the guitar and thinking…now what do i do. This will give me something to chew on
Many thanks

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Cant wait to get this far, I cant imagine how good this is going to feel to jam along to a blues backing track, I so cant wait to immerse myself into this style


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Me too @Libitina

To me this is the whole reason for me wanting to pick up a guitar in the first place.

Ive discovered that trying to copy music you hear on a record is extremely difficult, because you are just one guitar at home with no mixing facilities, whereas to just pick up a guitar and jam to any backing track for me would be HEAVEN
I absolutely envy anyone who can do this, and that is my number 1 goal in life


Welcome to the forum, @Daling !!!

Thankyou too Daling :slight_smile:

YES! This!

Why is this never mentioned by any YouTuber or teacher? You never hear anyone talk about the core fundamentals of how to make music on a guitar… playing chords yes, playing other people’s songs, no problem… but why does no one sit down and say “I’m going to show you how to make your own music.” Like what’s the first step? (After building some finger strength and coordination, a collection of chords, etc.)

On rare occasions I’ve heard a hint or two about how scales help… and that gave me hope that I may somehow learn how to move forward, but… wow, I feel like I’m taking crazy pills when try to ask around “how do I make notes sound good together?” Lol, I just want to make my own song(s).

Can this be done without getting lost in ultra complex music theory classes? I gave up on guitar years ago because I thought I missed out on music classes as a kid and it’s too late. I got tired of just learning other people’s songs and put it down. No idea how people were playing their own stuff. I guess I just need to memorize some scales and that’s really the main thing huh? Well I’m hoping Justin gets to the good stuff eventually, I’m working my way through all the beginner stuff, and even though I’m a beginner (kinda), it’s really hard to be patient when I’m not sure he’s ever going to really teach me what I want to know; doing the freestyle stuff the OP described, and creating my own songs. (And having some control over the style that emerges when doing so.)

K rant over, but I really wish we beginners were told what we need to hear at the start. That eventually we will be shown how to actually play, not just strum the required chords for a given song. K NOW it’s over ha.

Justin does.

But its not something that can be done in a 10min video with a crazy O face thumbnail and a clickbait title.

Its experience built on knowledge of many things


You’re not going to be shown that in any one lesson. But the clues are there throughout Justin’s lessons if you listen carefully. At some point you get to the stage where what’s in your head comes out of your fingers without thinking about it. It’s the point where everything is so ingrained it’s automatic. How long that takes will depend on the person and how determined they are. As Justin says there is only 1 that reaches advanced stage out of 100 beginners.

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Not one lesson. But I would say there’s more than “clues”. For instance, this is one of the grade 2 modules:



Yes. As Justin states, that one lesson is just a “…taste of the blues!”. What the OP is talking about is a long, long way from this. To reach that level you need to be able to transcribe, know musical theory and train your ear so you know how to play on guitar what he hear instantly.

This is a fine example of what I mean (sorry Justin!):

The guitarist works here out instantly the key, chord progression and what notes are being played and where on the neck. Really listen to him and watch his hands; he’s not thinking about what his hands are doing. To reach this level you have to master all the lessons. At the least Grade 7.

Edit: PS: what he’s doing, if you don’t know it, he’s using the Nashville numbering system to describe the chord intervals and progression.

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Thanks @rorystrat for the video you posted, it really goes to prove just how important it is to develop a good ear, I recall Justin made a strong point of this right back at the very beginning of the basic beginers course.

Strangely, I’ve noticed already from what I play I instantly now can tell if my guitar is even slightly out of tune on any string, this skill developed without me even knowing, until now that is.

I am lucky I guess, in that I instinctively know what notes sound good together, Ive always been able to identify nearly any tune after hearing the first 2 chords, a bit like hard days night or purple rain, but for all tunes.

I reckon this is helping me, I just now need to know how to send this info to my fingers :slight_smile:

Thanks everyone for the great feedback, and the sharing of your hard earned knowledge.

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Hey @Daling,

Getting good at improvisation is also one of my goals. I’ve been working on it for more than a year now. While I’m nowhere near good, here is my “I wish I knew when I started” list:

  1. It is hard. Using the correct scale is important, but playing the correct notes is not enough to sound good.
  2. Like every skill, it is most efficient to practice every day.
  3. You do not get better by just improvising. You need to continuously learn and bring in new ideas.
  4. Learning an idea does not mean you can execute it well. You need to repeat each idea tens to hundreds of times so you can start doing it without thinking.
  5. Listening is very important. Whatever style you want to improvise in, you need to be listening to that style a lot. Not just listening casually, but listening intensely, while paying full attention.
  6. Transcribing others’ solos is very often advised and surely useful but transcribing is a very time-consuming activity. If you are limited by time, it is probably a better idea to transcribe the licks you particularly like and incorporate them into your daily practice.
  7. Some people drive their improvisation by theory. Some people learn ideas first, then learn the theory behind them. Some never learn theory. Although all are fine, I believe theory accelerates things. In the modern world, none of us practices 8 hours every day and play on stage every night for 20 years. So we need theory to “get there” faster.
  8. For the first few months (could be weeks or years depending on how much you practice), it sounds very basic and that can be demoralizing (it is to me). You need to stay in it and get through.
  9. Bonus edit: When you play (i.e. on which beat you start and how long you play each note) and when you do not are as important as which notes you play!

Hope this helps.