Sam from Holland, bit stuck on grade 2 and need some motivation

Hey guys

Sam here, started with Justin’s beginner course on my 30th birthday. 3 years later and I’m still going strong. Bought my first electric guitar last year and trying to shread like a wanna be rocker.

However…. In grade 2 Im kinda lost and stuck. The whole finger style part I kinda skipt, way to difficult and not my cup of tea even though I love Mark Knopfler….

Now Im doing the blues part, love the blues but I feel like Justin is going way to fast. He’s got my trying to play along with songs I love like The Thrill is gone and Sweet home Chicago but I don’t know how. I kinda need someone showing me what to play instead of Justin saying, just try it it’s the blues!

Anyway, I thought I’d just put it all on this introduction bit since I still have to get to grips with the new “forum” to.

Hope someone can help me get me out of my down and blues mood….


Welcome to the Community, Sam.

Nothing wrong with skipping parts, like finger-picking. In time you may come back to it. I did that with Power Chords.

For the blues, I suggest start with playing the basic 12BB format in the key of A with a shuffle strumming rhythm. Perhaps start with the slow blues for which the chords would be A A A A D D A A E D A E. Just start with the major chords.

I agree with you, playing along with the originals is not easy, takes lots of practice to be able to feel the rhythm and hear the changes.

So start really simple and build up to the fancier lessons.


Welcome to the forum! From memory - the blues part (Module 13) of Grade 2 is very much a taster and gets developed in more detail later (which I haven’t reached yet). The Module 14 that follows is very much consolidation and rounding out so you are so close to the end of Grade 2! If you haven’t looked at Module 14 then maybe take a look as it covers repertoire, what to practice and eg getting unstuck :slight_smile: Rut Busting & Consolidation |

I did similar and skipped developing fully some of the techniques that were too difficult and frustrating in isolation until I found songs later on that were of a level where I could use them. I’m now going back and choosing songs I like that have those things in and getting them to a point I can record or perform them. I’m about to go back and explore the Blues a bit more so will have a look back at these lessons as well. I’m probably going to start with recording myself doing simple 12 bar blues and then adding the other stuff on top.

There is a specific song lesson on the Thrill is Gone - not sure if that helps? The Thrill Is Gone by BB King | - 10m20s in the video for the open chords version with Capo on 2nd fret and then explore? (but the full version he’s marked at Grade 5 level…)

Not sure if any of that helps but I guess in the ‘when to move on’ section he talks in terms of exploring the blues and moving on so don’t worry to much I think as it is something you can dive into much more detail later on. (Module 13 Practice |

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If you gonna play the blues, don’t you need to suffer a little?

Justin has a Blues course you can buy. I am not sure at what level it is appropriate, probably more advanced, but you can look at it and cherry pick parts that interest you and you like. Has a bunch of riffs/phrases to learn.

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Hi Sam and welcome.
I am a newcomer to the community but have been learning with Justin since September 2019.
I have followed a lot of the course even if just to give it a go, like finger style, which is not going to be my main style, however some songs that I am into can be played quite easily with basic fingerstyle aswell as strumming. Just saying learning a little of most things can broaden your ability.
I love my rock, metal and blues, which when you really look into the rock and even some metal do have a lot of blues influence, so learning some things that you ain’t going to specialise in can really help with certain elements of a song. Take Metallica Nothing else matters, that opens with a very easy and lovely fingerstyle pattern.
I’m not saying you should be mastering all the lessons, just maybe give some a thought and pick out what is important to where you want to be. Justin does say that you should practice things you need, so if you come across a song that does have elements that you ain’t learnt then you can always go back to lesson.
Lastly like Jamolay said, there is courses for blues and rock which you can get hold of for a small fee. I have the blues licks which is really worth the small fee

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Hi Sam and welcome.

My advice is listen to the songs and try and feel how the rhythm goes. Then with muted strings see if you can strum along. keep it simple, feel the shuffle if there is one and get that groove in your head.

Separately try and get the chords down. See if Justin has a song lesson for the one you’d like to work on. Right now you are only interested in the basics so for now discard any advanced stuff he may put into the song, To start with, just use one strum per bar to get the song structure. Eventually you can try and marry the rhythm with the chords .

Also check out the Nitsuj videos. They offer lots of tips of how someone will approach learning songs.

Good luck


Another thought - have a look around for simpler versions or covers of the songs. Sometimes the original or most popular versions will be more complicated to follow and harder to pick out certain parts you want to follow or play to. I tend to search for the song and listen to a few to find a version I can follow the structure of (eg if I have the tab or notation). I’ll listen a few times and tap along to get the rhythm. With the blues - if you get lost - listen for the turnaround at the end of bars 11 and 12 and be ready to join in again on bar 1. Marty’s done a full tutorial on the other song you mentioned (The Blues Brothers Sweet Home Chicago Guitar Lesson + Tutorial - YouTube - 5m50 for shuffle riff).


One nice thing about the blues is you can play them real slow and easy. That may make it hard to play along with the original but you can do that later. If you can handle playing to a metronome, slow it right down. Slow blues is it’s own genre.


Agree - I was listening to versions of Backwater Blues by Bessie Smith this morning and they go from around 100bpm down to B.B. King’s at around 55bpm.

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Hello Sam and welcome. :slight_smile:

Sorry, I can’t help you with your issue as I’m behind where you are but there are plenty of people on here who will be able to help you.


Hey David,

Thanks so much for the reply. Good to hear Im not the only one skipping stuff. :wink:

Playing the basic format like you mentioned and “feeling the blues” goes quite alright. Ive been listning blues since a little boy so I kinda feel when its good.

But like you say, to play along with a song, thats when it becomes difficult.

But thanks to you and the other comments I’m giving it another try to play along.

thanks again



thanks so much for your reply. You’re right, I might me to tough on myself. I just kinda feel like Justin could have added a bit where he plays along to a blues tune so I know what to expect. But like @Steggo81 mentioned, I might have to have a look at his left handed practice, didn’t do that yet.

Might be a good idea to record myself to, never done that in "public"before so a bit nervous to do that.

Had a look at Marty to, one of my favorite songs and within 5 minutes I was strumming along! Made my day! Thanks for the tip!

Thanks again for your support, much appreciated.

Yeah you’re totally right, and believe me I am suffering haha! Got my blues, “stink face” going on and everything. :laughing:

I’ll have a look at his course once I finish this module, I love the blues so its really something I’m interested in.

Yeah you’re totally right, on of the reasons I love the blues is that it “feels” right even when played slow.
Thanks for your reply. You’re so right, I’m definitely getting back to finger style but I felt myself drawn towards the power chord/rock part a bit more at the time. And to be honest I just found the whole fingerstyle stuff so incredibly difficult that I kinda gave up to soon maybe.

Thanks for the tips. The rythem is (thankfully) always something that came natural to me, it’s all the other stuff I’m struggling with. It was just that I felt kinda lost on what I was supposed to do, in the other lessons this was not the case. Like I said above, it would have been nice to see justin play along to one of the blues tunes on a basic level so I could get a sense of what was required of me but I totally forgot to check Nitsuj! Going to check it out tonight!

Thanks again everyone for your support, much appreciated!
First time I’ve ever posted something on a forum and I’m really amazed at all the great replies, what a nice community this is.

Keep on rockin all!


When I first started playing 10 years ago, fingerstyle was all that interested me. I started with the simplest just plucking 4 strings on a 4/4 timing song, bass note with my thumb, then index, middle and back to index. Probably easier to do it on something not bluesy so it’s a straight 4 / 4 timing without the swing effect. After that started to work, I changed it to thumb, index, pinch middle and right, back to index. It gave a fuller sound. The next thing was to learn to alternate the bass with my thumb once a chord went for multiple bars.

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@Harry_Seaside I found your post helpful as I felt the same about the recommended blues songs. My motivation has now increased.

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Hi Sam,
Hope youve mastered Sweet Home Chicago now. Great song.
I am no expert, but I find I need to play things I love, and just feel the music. When you’ve got the basic chords down make it your own.
Hope you’re going strong still. Personally having a long and wearing battle with a B chord :see_no_evil:

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Hello Harry and welcome to the community.
Can I ask you to clarify, what part of the blues are you struggling with? Rhythm, riffs, shuffle strumming, beginning to solo? All are introduced in Grade 2 Module 13.