How do they do this?

I disagree. The OP said

You can start doing this with some basic knowledge and skills. It takes practice, and skills like ear training, transcribing, and music theory will help a lot (and Justin teaches these) but none of these skills are essential for improvising.

In fact Lee Anderton was doing pretty good improvisations before he did the “Rutbuster” lessons with Justin, where he stated he didn’t know any music theory, and didn’t do any ear training or transcribing.

And then @MR_HOBS said:

Justin provides specific lessons on improvising and songwriting at different skill/knowledge levels.

You will never be as good as most of the YouTube musicians without practice and some study. This should include music theory, transcribing, and ear training as it will accelerate your learning.

But none of these things are a prerequisite to starting.




Nobody panic! The other 99 are on different forums :sweat_smile:


Justin’s improvisation lessons are very good for starting but I feel like you are on your own after learning the very basic stuff.

Has anyone figured out a good, structured way to gradually get better at improvising to higher levels?

Thanks @elevatortrim
Great list for me to go through, all makes sense.

1 Like

Right? I read that and thought it’s been nice chatting with yall, thinking it’s a matter of time until my guitar journey is over. :joy: I wonder who the rock star is gonna end up being?!

You can eliminate me!

@elevatortrim given your previous list, there’s nothing really to add. In the end it depends how creative the person is as to how good they improvise. If you really want to fast-track this and put pressure on yourself, join a band and do it live.

1 Like

First and foremost a Massive thankyou to everyone who has been able to add their kind help here, its very much appreciated and I long for the day I may be able to know enough to give back.

My biggest concern is my Age 63 ( Can already feel the start of arthritis in my fingers) worried I learn all this and then my fingers give up, so I guess I’m looking at a fast track, the positive voice in my mind says

" well if you learn guitar you are exercising your fingers which may actually prevent or delay arthritis)

I know the basics, open chords, power chords, barre chords.

I struggle with the timing, and trust my ear, based on tunes I know.

I think my rough list of learning requirements might now be:

Learn scales

Use basic songs which make good use of scales, that way I can practice my timing AND scales.

Blues interests me a lot, and improvising to a backing track, is my dream.

Well there’s the Blues Lead and Mastering The Major Scale courses for a start.

IMO, if you get through the Intermediate course and these courses fully, you are well on the way to structuring your own path.




I equate asking an accomplished guitar improviser how they “just pick up a guitar and play” to asking a sketch artist how they “just pick up a piece of paper and draw”.

IMHO, they do this by listening to and learning LOTS of other people’s music that resonates with them, then identify the riffs, licks, and techniques that they like, then, over much time, they string these pieces together into a rhythm and/or a melody/solo that appeals to their ear.

Ultimately, no one can teach you how to improvise, although you can learn a process to follow to help you improvise.

Improvise: produce or make (something) from whatever is available.

What is available is the collection of chord progressions, licks, riffs, chord progressions, etc. you have learned along the way, which you then piece together into something that sounds good to you.



Kind of disagree here. I think a good guitar teacher can teach you how to improvise. You would sound like your guitar teacher rather than yourself but still.

1 Like

Improvising really doesn’t exist. When people improvise they don’t make things up as they go along.
It’s more like talking. When you talk you use the words you learnt as a child and put them together in meaning full ways to communicate.
This is what improvising is and why it look so effortless when an experienced musician does it.
They are using the licks, phases and embellishments they have learnt over decades of playing and put them together to communicate what they feel though music.

The best way to learn to improvise is to put on a backing track and use what you know to come up with meaningfully phases. Study your favorite guitar players and steal what you can and add it to your playing.
You personality will come through your playing and the more licks you steal the more you’ll figure out how to mix them up into some thing you’d like to play.

Don’t worry about sounding like someone else, you won’t. Just like speaking we all use the same words but don’t describe everything the same way.


Yeah me too, you can teach creativity, the tools you need and how to apply them to express your ideas.

You are always going to be influenced by people and esp your teachers, I saw this with guitarists from GIT, very skilled typically but all sounded similar until they have time to figure out their own expressions

Thanks for your reply, funnily enough I’ve kind of adopted this idea, by learning Sultans of Swing by Dire Straits. As you will know this song consists of many many licks against a solid backing track, this gives me the chance to use and learn these licks, and Ive already started to notice these licks are also used in other songs, and use scales of course.

So In one song I can learn how to put down a backing track, how to learn the licks, strumming the backing track, then the hardest part, cementing it all together, and keeping time
To me this song is perfect as a learning project, as it gives very instant gratification, which helps encouragement.


Actually, whilst I agree with the sentiment of the rest of your post, I actually think you would sound like someone doing scales.

Because everyone does, to start with. It’s a rite of passage that everyone goes through when learning to improvise. Some of us never get past it :wink:.