The Justin Workshops

The Justin Workshops …

A topic for people who have attended and participated in any of the JustinGuitar workshop events.

A way to share your story, write a diary entry, give some feedback etc.


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Thanks Richard for setting up this category for me to give an overview of my participation in one of Justins recent workshops.

The workshop I attended was run from 2nd to 7th October 2022.

I was lucky to be part of Justin’s Band Jam workshop in Montegridolfo, Italy earlier this month. Some people on the forum expressed an interest in knowing a bit about my experience so I will give high level overview of what you can expect in such a workshop and my experience. This is by no means meant to be comprehensive review and is certainly not a sponsored review. I did ask Justin if he wanted to see what I was going to share but he was completely cool like always and told me to go ahead and share away.

Sorry if this overview is a bit chaotic but I am basically just writing it down as it comes to mind.

This is actually my 3rd such workshop. I went to same location in June 2019 , 2020 was cancelled of course , 2021 we did the workshop in Rimini and again in Montegridolfo this year. There were some new faces at this years event but many were repeat offenders like myself.

All the workshops I have been to are run by Justin and his long term friend Pete, who was also at one time Justins’ teacher. Pete is a super nice guy, fantastic player and his enthusiasm and knowledge is immense. I don’t need to tell you guys about Justin’s credentials. So you can perhaps start to get the feeling how inspiring and fun it is to be with these guys all week
This year Justin also had support from his friend Dave. Dave is another amazing musician, talented on a range of instruments and like Justin and Pete a really nice guy, very supportive and enthusiastic.

The workshop starts with a get together on the Sunday evening and runs through to a Friday night final dinner. The band jam workshop is focused on the experience of playing in a band setting. Each day ( except Friday which I will mentioned later) you work on a different song which will be played in a live band scenario in the late afternoon.

During the live performances a local bass player and drummer join to support. For all the workshops I have been to , it has been the same drummer and bass player so they are now just like old friends also. These guys are amazing to play with.

Each day Mon to Thursday a different song that Justin has chosen for us has to be learned and performed. This year Justin did warn us that some of the stuff we would be doing was quite challenging so we really needed to do some upfront preparation if we wanted to get the most out of the band experience. About 10 weeks before the workshop Justin prepared and sent us GuitarPro (GP8) files with arrangements of the each song we would play. This was immensely helpful.

The songs we worked on and performed were

Monday. Pink Floyd - Money
Tuesday. John Mayer - Slow Dancing in a Burning Room.
Wednesday. Dire Straits - Sultans of Swing
Thursday . Foo Fighters - The Pretender.

These songs are all chosen by Justin to specifically focus on different aspects of playing. The Pink Floyd one has a 7/4 time signature. The John Mayer song requires a lot of touch and expression to get to sound good. Dire Straits fast moving rhythm and lead lines. The Foo Fighters is fast with a lot of dynamic playing and multiple parts.

Like I said Justin did warns us that this years songs were not easy and it seems that most participants did make an effort to do some practice upfront which helped a lot in getting some decent performances. I should mention that you are expected to have a go at playing all the guitar parts that Justin has put each song arrangement. So this year that meant having to learn 3 guitar parts for each song except Sultans which was 2 guitar parts.

The format of a day is Justin/Pete take us through the songs in the morning making sure we get any issues or questions resolved and they also explain theory or techniques related to the song we are doing that day. Then in the afternoon the band arrives.
The format is you just pick your moment and get in line to play with the band. You will play in multiple play throughs of the song with the band playing , cycling through different roles until you have done all the parts. So it can be quite intense.
A typical sequence is. First you play percussion while the band performs the song with some of your colleagues in the band at that point. If there is 2 percussion instruments to play then you play both one after another. Next you typically have to be “the pointer”. This role is following the song on a whiteboard chart with a pointer while the song is being played to help your colleagues playing at that moment to follow where they are in the song. Next it will be your turn to play the first guitar part. So now you get your guitar , get on stage and joining the others already there and play through the first guitar part you are given with the band. Then you move onto the next guitar part for the next play through. Once you have played all the guitar parts you move to the front and do vocals . So basically you cycle through multiple plays of the song performing different roles, then you go get a beer and try to recover while cheering on your colleagues who are still going through there own play throughs. I have probably not done a great job of describing how it works but what I can say is that it is terrifying, exhausting and great fun all at the same time.

On Friday each person has a free choice of song they are going to perform with the band. You can choose one of the songs played during the week or a song of your own choice. It is meant to be a collaboration , so you have to team up with one( or more ) of the other participants and arrange who is doing what part of the song and remember someone will have to sing if the song has vocals as there is no external singer.
You will also have to create a chart of the song for the band so they can support you. So Friday morning & early afternoon is all about preparing your song along with your colleagues and as always Justin and Pete are on hand to help.
In the late afternoon the concert starts. Justin will choose the sequence of the performers and then it is just a matter of waiting your turn. This year I was in 3 bands which is definitely enough, it is easy to get drawn into joining multiple groups and it is great fun but 3 was more than enough for me on the day. I certainly enjoyed my beer after I finished.

Other things to mention not music related. The location is just amazing, Montegridolfo is a fortified hill top town from around 12th century I believe. The hotel has rooms in the old town and the new town outside the town walls. You can check it out online. The workshop is held in a spacious and light event room attached to the hotel.
A group lunch and dinner is provided each day at the local restaurant. The food is really great and more than plentiful , I was completely stuffed each day. The food is inclusive of the price you pay for the accommodation, I am not much of an alcohol drinker but I think the wine with the meal is also included. Dinner was typically around 7.00 pm eating inside the restaurant as it was early October, lunch was outside in the beautiful afternoon weather. It is really a splendid location.

The whole event runs smoothly, Justin has a local friend of his , Carlo taking of all the logistical details.

I have not been to many guitar workshops but I have been to a couple of others and I can say Justins’ workshops are by far the best fun I have had a such events.

Hope this is useful to let people understand what to expect at one of Justin’s electric band jam workshops. There was an acoustic workshop running in the same location the previous week. I don’t know the format of these but I am interested in attending , so if anyone wants to share their experience of attending one of these it would be nice.


Awesome write up Eric. Sounds like a great time. Quite challenging songs. I saw a clip with you in on Justin’s instagram a short while ago and it looked like a great time.

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Thanks so much for sharing your experience, Eric, it sounds like an amazing week of fun and guitars!! I hope I get to go one year. It’s on my Bucket List, but it’s a long way from home and not feasible in at least the next couple of years.

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Thank you for sharing your impressions with us, Eric. Must be an amazing event!


Sounds like you had a good time but guessing you need to be a decent player (not beginner) to attend.

Hi Eric,
Nice to read,…that has been a lot of work in advance and there on location :sweat_smile:,…that will really contribute very well to your musical development :sunglasses:…and great fun of course :smiley:

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Thank you for such a comprehensive and illuminating write up Eric. It sounds like an amazing experience. :slight_smile:


That does sound like a week of fun, thanks for sharing.


Hi Stuart, there is actually quite a wide variation of the levels people are playing at. It would be hard for me to estimate what grade you would need to be working at to get the most out of the event . It is not a beginners event but it is not just something for advanced players. If you really fancy something like this I would definitely check with Justin rather than just assuming it is too advanced. Went I went to my first one I had no clue what to expect so it was a relief to see I fitted in ok. I am sure Justin would give good guidance if you were really interested.

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Hi JK, i am not on instagram but I heard he posted something. Was it the part when Pete pulled my Mark Knopfler headband over my eyes while I was playing ? I told Justin that was actually my best performance of that song , maybe I need to do that more often :grinning:

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I hope it works out that you can make it sometime, I am sure you would have fun


Cheers Roger. I had no idea what to expect the first time I went so I thought it might help others who are interested to understand a bit more about how these workshops run.

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What a great summary Eric. Thank you so much for sharing!

Maybe I should go one day…(starts checking how much spare money I have lying around). What gear is the fuel and inspiration for some, playing with others is my thing.

I do but not sure that the missus or the bank would be happy!

I’ve listened to Money literally 100’s of times and never knew it was 7/4. Saying that I’m not sure what 7/4 is!

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Thanks for the link, it seems you really need to sign up to instagram and I am really trying to resist being on too many social platforms, however I did get my daughter to show me the posting, I see Justin mentions my blindfolded rhythm playing but it is not on the video unfortunately, shame it was my crowning glory to stay in time and play the right chords while unable to see, I have tried to repeat this at home with other songs but unfortunately not with the same results. :confused:

No worries Eric. Glad to hear you had a great time. Thanks for sharing your experience with a fantastic write up. I’m not signed up with Instagram either but was able to watch the clip and cheer you on. It may depend on what browser your using when you click on the link. So next OM you will be playing blindfolded? :wink:

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Was just grabbing the link and I see Socio already posted it. Looked pretty good, one vid of you playing and another of you and the crew dancing!