Socio's Learning Log

James, I have just started learning from the Complete Blues Guitar book, since I am alternating acoustic and electric each week. I am embarrassed to admit that I was was completely wrong about my initial evaluation of the book that I posted above 14 days ago. After actually playing the 12 bar blues from the second chapter, I saw that only the F7 Is a barre chord and no harder than a standard F and the C7 and G7 are just the open 7th chords from Module 13.

Hi James. Great LL update.
Here’s a book I’ve been using when I get the urge to try fingerstyle blues.

It starts with basic stuff (alternating bass and the like) and develops it all later. A lot of it is similar in content to Justin’s lessons.
I too like ‘hard copy’ (probably an age thing :smiley:). I’ve got the original beginners and intermediate course books and I regularly refer back them. It’s so much easier to find things rather than spending ages trawling through the web site.



That’s good that you have picked up the electric book again. When you get to the closed position shuffle riffs there are a few that are far too stretchy but immediately after them is a stop time example which is a lot of fun learning.


I can’t believe that you’ve been holding out on some fingerstyle blues AVOYPs on us Gordon :wink: That is a highly recommended book on the interweb. One that I’ll have to put in my “to buy” list. Likewise I’ve got the beginner and intermediate books. It is always good to get some time away from a screen.

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James, you are right. The closed position shuffle with the b7 extension is too stretchy. I was able to do the exercise by moving the exercise root note from the 3rd fret to the 7th fret (played with the first finger) and the flat 7 played on the 12th fret with the pinkie.

The stop time example was interesting to play along with, but my favorite was the boogie woogie on the next page which is inspired by the Texas shuffle of SRV on Pride and Joy, especially if you replace the E note (4th string, 2nd fret) with scratched up strums on the first 3 strings. I know because I looked at Justin’s song lesson: Pride and Joy song lesson last month. It is listed as a Grade 7 song and beyond my ability at this point (although since it doesn’t teach the solo i would rate the lesson at about grade 5) but I can at least play a little of the Texas shuffle/boogie pattern.

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Hey Steve :smiley: glad to hear that you also found the stop time example interesting. That’s good to know the next example is even better. I haven’t got there yet as got distracted writing originals but now looking forward to learning that piece. Plan to record some of the blues pieces up to this point next weekend when I’ll have some time to record.

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James, I only practice blues every other week, so that is as far as I have gotten in the course.

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Slowly getting back into the swing of things. Practice is starting to fall back into place. The third original song that I was writing is now complete and now added to repertoire practice. The blues study has also been rekindled: July Blues Studies. A busy August planned as I approach my two year guitar anniversary in September.


Recorded and posted my third original song:

Hold On

I’ve been thinking recently on trying to write ten songs and record a proper polished version as a keep sake album entitled “Something for Everyone” to mark one of my JG anniversaries.

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And the way you are going, you’ll have the ten songs in no time at all, James.

Excellent idea, look forward to that album!

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I decided to start the first of the two ICMP Elevate Blues Courses that Justin was involved in. I’m going to take it real slow though as I have a lot on my plate at the moment with work and also have my niece staying with me for a month. First lesson has been pretty fun really developing a sense of rhythm using the straight, shuffle, loose and tight blues backing tracks in the key of A provided. The next module should be easy enough as familiar with the variations of the 12 bar blues. The module after that will be completely new to me with the introduction of 8 bar and 16 bar blues. I do like how the course includes a text page in addition to the video lesson as per JG but also includes sound cloud and YouTube videos within the text giving example songs that use the particular aspect being taught. It is definitely the best £25 that I have spent. I wouldn’t expect anything less when Justin has been involved.


Sounds good, James. Look forward to recordings in the future to show off what you have learned/

September 2023: Two Year Anniversary

Time has flew past faster than a cannon ball, this month marks my two year guitar anniversary.

Looking back at the eight goals that I set myself for Year 2, what was I thinking at the time :roll_eyes: To be fair some of them were achievable if I had focused on them and had not followed that bouncy ball down various roads. So what did I achieve over the last year?

Beginner’s Grade 3

I have completed at least 50% of the learning material in no particular order. I reached that point where I took control and set my own practice routines based on what I needed to work on so found myself cherry picking the lessons and combining with the beginner material I was working through from other resources.


I completed the Master Fingerstyle Beginner’s Course and even got a nice little certificate to show for my efforts. I learned the foundations, alternating the bass, muting the bass, multiple notes at the same time, playing the melody, strumming without a pick, picking without a pick, strumming and picking at the same time, and fingerstyle blues.

Blues Guitar

I developed further my blues rhythm knowledge and skills both on electric and acoustic. I feel that I have developed a decent level of beginner competence with playing the shuffle riff (including mixing it up with chords and variations), playing boogie woogie patterns and steady thumb blues.


I managed to stick to the goal of recording and sharing a few more recordings with the community and got some excellent feedback including plenty of tips. I’m actually surprised with the number of recordings that I have shared with the community and that I went from ‘headless’ unlisted recordings to now having no hesitancy sharing ‘headed’ public recordings.

I even managed to write, record and share a few original songs which wasn’t on my list of goals for the year.

What do I plan to achieve over the next year?

This year I’m going to be a bit more realistic especially after learning that I like to take detours in the learning process which I think keeps me motivated and helps with my development as a musician.

Beginner’s Grade 3

The intention is to complete the remaining lessons for this grade over the course of the year. This should be a realistic target.

Intermediate Grade 4

Since I’ve been learning songs (and writing songs) with E shaped barre chords I have commenced the intermediate grade 4 lessons :roll_eyes: So I will aim to further progression with the learning material for this grade.


Following completion of the Master Fingerstyle Beginner’s Course I have started to work my way through the Intermediate Course. I find it adds a bit of variety to the practice sessions, so I will continue to progress with the course in parallel with Justin’s material.


I’ve said it before and I will say it again it’s time to start developing my soloing and improv skills :roll_eyes: I’ve actually now started working on this and enjoying the learning process. It’s going to take me a bit of time to get it under my fingers and develop a decent vocabulary but it should lead to a very interesting year.

Ear Training

So many false starts :roll_eyes: I have been making slow progress but I’m not going to make any promises and just play it by ear.

Music Theory

Similar to ear training I’m not going to set out any goals and just let my knowledge develop naturally along with my playing skills.


I’m sure there will be more in the pipeline for this coming year and hopefully we can see continuing progress being made :wink:


Hi James,
Very organized as always and clear goals :sunglasses:, and looking at grade 4 (or 5 or 6 or 7) every now and then and cherry picking there is completely oke and fun … :smiley:
at least that’s what I did after a … well short… time and I’m actually quite happy with myself :grin:
Greetings and have a nice "new"year.


Another well put together update James. Congratulations on your upcoming two year anniversary.

You’ve always reported good progress and I have no doubts you’ll continue to progress in the next 12 months.
You’re quite a way ahead of me so all I will mention is ear training. Don’t be afraid to do it, and don’t worry about passing tests. You can’t set goals for it either, you just have to let it happen in its own sweet time.
Justin’s ear training lessons are only the beginning. There are other things you can do alongside the lessons to develop your ear, such as simply listening to what you’re playing. Be aware of all the sounds you’re making as you play. It will all add up to your ear becoming more finely tuned . It won’t happen overnight, it’ll be a continuous thing for the rest of your playing days.

Good luck for the next 12 months. (Not that you need it)! :sunglasses: :guitar:


James @Socio

You have had a busy two years haven’t you and admire setting goals, by and large you seem to have met them. Has it flown by or have you got to he stage where you not sure when you actually started.

Interesting that you seem to have set out your own learning path, which in a way is what Justin sort of indicates you can do at this stage. I am a bit like you in cherry picking some lessons ahead of where you actually are because you need them, nothing wrong with that in my view.

Ear training I totally with you on that it is hard work. I think you should progress with theory it adds so much background to what you are doing.

Enjoy the next twelve months.


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Bravo and tip the hat, James. Love the update, your deliberate approach to learning and practice, and have enjoyed all the fruits as you share music with the Community. Lots to look forward to!

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Congrats on another year of guitar James, trucking away with the progress there. Keep following your muse :slightly_smiling_face:


@Socio you mention you did a beginners course on mastering fingerstyle. What course was it?

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Congrats on the two year anniversary James. Well done, that’s a very comprehensive LL update you’ve written. You’re very organised and the goals you’ve set out for yourself are clear and achievable.

I share that viewpoint James. It’s important not to get stuck in a rut.
I look forward to your next original song and following your year three progress.

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@roger_holland @BurnsRhythm @MAT1953 @DavidP @jkahn @TonyHS @sairfingers

Thank you for your words of support & encouragement.

Oh… that’s got to be the ultimate goal for every year.

Not really afraid to do it, just that there has been so much to learn at beginner level, that I’ve been unable to set aside time specific to ear training. Like you say I’ve been developing my ear through listening as I learn to play the instrument (chords, scales etc) rather than ear training lessons.

It has definitely flown by as it feels like it was only a few months ago that I downloaded the App and started Module 1 Lesson 1.

Definitely. Though I’ve taken that approach of learning the theory at the stages it relates to what I’m learning on the play.

Absolutely. It’s what keeps me engaged.

The course was Master Fingerstyle Guitar Beginner taught at sixstringfingerpicking. I needed something a bit more progressive learning as I felt the beginners course only really touched on fingerstyle.

I’ve actually got one in the oven just needing the final verse and bridge finished. Not sure what folk will make of it as completely different from the previous songs. I think this one has more of a Neil Diamond feel to it.