Author Archives: Live from the Guitar loft


These are trying times. But remember, WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER! We want to encourage you to use this downtime to dust off some music you haven’t listened to in a while, pick up that guitar you told yourself you’d learn to play… Make this a productive time to focus on things that can get lost in the shuffle when everything is in go-mode. 

We’ve made EVERYTHING in store 20% OFF, to make it easier to buy music, guitars, & lessons in these trying times.

We’re also spending all day every day creating music that we’re sharing COMPLETELY FREE through YouTubeFacebook, and Instagram, to do our part to keep spirits high!  We’ll be live-streaming not only FREE Music, but also FREE Guitar Workshops, and LIVE Q&As, so please click those links and be sure you’re SUBSCRIBED, so that you get notice when we go live! 

Shop at & enter the Code STAYHOMEPLAYMUSIC at Checkout for 20% OFF your entire order! 
Guitars, Digital Downloads, CDs, Vinyl Albums, Instructional Video Courses, & More! Everything ships directly from us, from a COVID-FREE, well-isolated, sanitary environment!

Everything Capo! How, When, and Why to Use a Guitar Capo

Most guitarists are familiar with the concept of the capo, and most probably have one or two kicking around in their cases and gig bags. While the most common usage of the capo is to facilitate smooth and easy key changes while retaining the ability to fret open chords, the capo has a few hidden advantages that can really help you play better, sound better, and add complexity and versatility to your guitar technique.

Check out the video above to get the entire lesson on how, when, and why to use a guitar capo.

If you like the Kyser Capo design in this video, you can pick one up HERE.

Tone Tour Through Martin Guitars’ Nashville Showroom

Recently, I was invited for a private visit to the Martin Guitars’ Nashville Showroom to check out some new guitar designs, try out some guitars… and basically drool at their beautiful collection of rare and high-end Martins!

Since the showroom isn’t open to the public, I wanted to share some of the experience with you & give you a chance to see some of these sexy guitars in action… and give you my first impressions of them.

Martin DX Johnny Cash Model

Before I take you into the Martin Showroom, the video above is an unboxing of my newest Martin guitar, the DX Johnny Cash Model. This model is based around the Dreadnought style body, and is essentially a more affordable version of the famous Johnny Cash Signature D-35. The DX is constructed from some incredibly complex and sweet-sounding laminate woods that Martin has developed over the years. It feels and sounds amazing, considering it’s around one-tenth the price of the D-35 Johnny Cash Model. This guitar is a songwriter’s dream, and is incredibly resilient to humidity, temperature, and road-trip wear & tear. How does it sound, you ask?… check out the video above! (spoiler alert: it sounds killer!)

Martin D-35 Johnny Cash Model

This is the real deal! This is the D-35 Johnny Cash Signature Model Martin… a tribute to Johnny’s personal custom Martin Dreadnought (which was the first ever black Martin guitar ever produced). Even though I have played hundreds of Martin acoustic guitars over the years, I was blown away the second I picked this baby up. The craftsmanship was impeccable and the sound was remarkably loud and balanced. Once I started strumming this guitar, I could literally hear the guitar’s sound bounding off the walls in the room… the tone of this guitar punches harder than any other acoustic I’ve played. Check out the video above to hear it as I try to conjure a bluesy train vibe with the finger slide.

Martin 000-42 Model

Oh yeah, now we are getting to my favorite model that Martin developed, the 000 (triple-oh). Martin 000 Model bodies are a little thinner than the dreadnoughts and the tone does not punch quite as hard as the dreadnought-style bodies, but I personally think the 000’s have a bluesier tone overall, and really excel for fingerpicking, and in the studio. The balance, tone, and feel of this 000 just makes it so damn easy to play, and you never feel like you are having to “force” the guitar to do what you want. Once I picked up this especially “blinged-out” 000–42, I couldn’t help but play some of that slow, country-style blues fingerpicking. This is the kind of guitar a doctor would prescribe you if you had high blood pressure, just to get you to chill out. Check the video out above to hear what I’m talking about.

Martin HD12-28 12-String Model

12-Strings can be hard to play, not just because you have to push down twice as many strings with your fingers, but because it can be tough for the guitar designer to fit all of the strings on the fretboard without making them too close together. Plus, the guitar has to be able to support twice the string tension without the guitar becoming over-braced, which chokes the tone and resonance. The main standout element of the Martin HD12-28 12-String was the balance of tone. The highs cut through nicely, without sounding brittle or thin, and the lows were present and strong, without getting muddy or “thumpy.” When I use the 12-string in the studio, it’s usually to double strumming 6-string parts, so the balanced tone is super important, so that the mix doesn’t get too tubby in the low-mids. This was also a very easy-to-fret 12-string, as the fretboard is wide enough to give you comfortable string spacing, while still feeling like a 6-string when you fret. Check out the video above to hear it in action, and hear my first impressions.

Thanks for taking this tour of some of Martin’s iconic models with me. Hope you enjoyed the sneak peek into their new Nashville showroom!
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Have you been GOOD this year?

He knows if you’ve been bad or good so be good for goodness sake!

ONLY HOURS LEFT to get $500 OFF the KNOB CREEK or TANK 224 Whiskey Barrel Guitar! 

I WANT $500 Off!

We’ve also got LIMITED EDITION “B-Side Gold” Shovel Guitars available through the Kickstarter for the new album. Justin Johnson is hand-building & autographing each of these guitars and this SPECIAL LIMITED EDITION gets GOLD HARDWARE, This Limited Edition is only available through the Kickstarter and there are currently ONLY 8 LEFT!
These guitars will ship out this weekend, so they make perfect Christmas Presents! 
Justin can also write a custom message on the back, along with his autograph, if you want a personalized gift!


Check out the new “B-Side Gold” LIMITED EDITION Shovel Guitar with GOLD HARDWARE!

Check out the new “B-Side Gold” LIMITED EDITION Shovel Guitar with GOLD HARDWARE!

We’re offering a very Limited Edition run of “B-Side Gold Edition” Shovel Guitars with GOLD HARDWARE, for the first time ever, and only available through the Kickstarter fundraiser for Justin Johnson’s new album “B-Side Gold”!

Order through Kickstarter to get this Limited Edition Shovel Guitar
•AND get it in time for Christmas! 
•AND get a motherload of Bonus Swag! 
You’ll also get:  
•Justin Johnson’s “Slide for 3-String Guitar” Instructional DVD
•a Justin Johnson Signature Guitar Slide
•a Limited Edition B-Side Gold Tote Bag
•an Autographed CD of the new “B-Side Gold” album
•a Digital Download of the new “B-Side Gold” album
•a Digital Download of the new Bonus Full-Length album “The Bootleg Series: Volume 1”
•PLUS a few other surprises!

TIME IS RUNNING OUT on our Biggest Savings of the Year!

ONLY 5 DAYS LEFT to get in on our Biggest Savings of the Year!

The ‘B-SIDE GOLD’ album is officially GreenLit! It’s happening!  ..but our Special Offers are NOT OVER YET!! There are still Awesome Rewards, Guitars, & Early Bird Discounts available for PreOrders! These Early Bird Savings available through the Kickstarter will never be offered again after the Kickstarter ends a few days from now.. So Get in on It Now and let’s make some music!

The Rewards available range from simply preordering the new album (Ordering now helps us make it happen and gives you the chance to get the album at a lower price, receive insider footage from the tracking sessions along the way, & pick up BONUS PERKS for placing an early order!), to One-of-a-Kind Signature Guitars, & Wild Experience Opportunities to come aboard as Associate or Executive Producer, that are available only through this Kickstarter. 

There are still a Limited Number of Early Bird Offers on preordering a Download of the “B-Side Gold” Album, which gives you $5 off of the Download AND a FREE Full-Length Bonus Album “The Bootleg Series: Volume 1” valued at $15 (so Spend $15 & Save $20!)

We’re offering Limited Edition “B-SIDE GOLD EDITION” 3-STRING FRETLESS JUSTIN JOHNSON SIGNATURE SHOVEL GUITARS through this Kickstarter only.  Again, ordering through Kickstarter means that not only will you get the Limited “B-Side Gold” Edition Shovel Guitar, but you will also get the motherload of Swag and Bonuses included with this offer, that are only available through the Kickstarter.

There are only 2 Whiskey Barrel Guitars left at $500 OFF! They’re both reward options through our Kickstarter, so when you order here, you SAVE $500 AND get FREE UPGRADE TO EXPRESS INTERNATIONAL SHIPPING, so that you’ll have it in time for Christmas! These are Autographed Limited Edition Guitars w/Signed Certificate of Authenticity, at a HEFTY discount over regular price, and offered here with a serious dose of BONUS SWAG, so if you’ve been eyeing one, now’s the time! 

“The White Rabbit” scored a guitar through our Kickstarter & came by to pick it up in person! Yep, that’s an option! There are only 2 guitars left & only 5 days left to get in on it! CLICK HERE to pick up one of the 2 we have left & get the $500 off while you can! All Guitars, Shovel Guitars, Cigar Box Guitars, & Diddley Bows ship on December 15, with FREE UPGRADE to Express Shipping worldwide, so you’ll have it in time for Christmas!

PLUS YOU GET A Bonus Album with every Preorder! 

We’ve finalized the Song List for “The Bootleg Series: Vol. 1” that will be included as a BONUS Full Length Album Download with EVERY Preorder of the new “B-SIDE GOLD” album! .. so you save money by preordering, and also get rewarded with 2x the music! 

The Bootleg Series: Vol. 1 

Biggest Savings of the Year on Signature Shovel Guitars, Whiskey Barrel Guitars, & One-String Diddley Bows!

Happy Holi-daze everybody! If you have been following us here at Roots Music School, then you know that I (Justin Johnson) have been working hard to fundraise for my upcoming album, B-Side Gold. It’s getting down to the wire, but luckily, we are offering some killer deals on my Signature Shovel Guitars, Whiskey Barrel Guitars, and One-String Diddley Bows. If you have a guitarist or Roots Music Lover on your Christmas List, then check out the deals on my Kickstarter Campaign. You can make your loved one happy on Christmas Morning, and help us fund our album, so we can keep bringing you fresh music in 2020!
There are also Early Bird Savings available through the Kickstarter that will never be offered again after the Kickstarter ends a few days from now.. So Get in on It Now and let’s make some music!

All guitars purchased through my Kickstarter Campaign will ship out before Christmas, so you can make sure your stockings are stuffed!

Select from the Available Whiskey Barrel Guitar Models!
Save Big on Justin Johnson Signature Shovel Guitar!

If you want to take advantage of these killer discounts CLICK HERE, and help start someone’s journey with Roots Music!

Click Here to Check out the Kickstarter!

Justin Johnson Releasing “Bootleg Series Vol. 1” – Live and Unreleased Recordings

PreOrder “B-SIDE GOLD” & get
“The Bootleg Series: Vol 1” FREE!

We’ve finalized the Song List and the Artwork for “The Bootleg Series: Vol. 1” that will be included as a BONUS Full-Length Album Download with EVERY Preorder of the new “B-SIDE GOLD” album!  
The Bootleg Series” is a compilation of Remastered Live & Unreleased Justin Johnson Solo Guitar performances from the archives! Order the new “B-SIDE GOLD” album through Kickstarter & get the full “Bootleg Series: Vol. 1” as a FREE BONUS .. along with other groovy perks & surprises! 

Click Here to Order:

Here’s the Song List!


HIGH VOLTAGE ROCKABILLY! “All I Can Do Is Cry” from Justin Johnson’s Upcoming “B-Side Gold” Album

Crank up the speakers & spread the word! …you’ve been asking for it.. here it is!… the first completed track from my upcoming album, “B-Side Gold.”


Preorder the album through my Kickstarter Campaign ( and you can also get earlybird pricing on the album or download, free bonus album download, huge discounts on whiskey barrel guitars, special edition 3-string shovel guitars, & other killer rewards and bonus perks for preordering, that are only available through the crowdfunding campaign.

This track is a cover of an old Wayne Walker tune called “All I Can Do Is Cry.” It features Spike Nicer on vocals, Derrek Phillips (Hank Williams Jr., Charlie Hunter) on drums, Mark Winchester (Brian Setzer Orchestra) on the slap bass, and me (Justin Johnson) on guitars.

“All I Can Do Is Cry” has always been one of my favorite old Rockabilly tunes, and I’ve been dying to cover it for a while. I really wanted this arrangement to hit hard, while keeping an authentic Rockabilly backbone. Derrek’s drums really fatten the rock vibe up, while Mark’s Slap bass pounds out more of a traditional Rockabilly slap bass tone. Spike Nicer also nailed the vintage rockabilly flavor on the vocals… with the help of a little tape echo to give it that early Sun Studio soul.

The guitar is much more wild, and the addition of the Wah Wah pedal is something that you never really hear in Rockabilly, but I’ve always loved blending that “Hendrix” vibe with the early Rock & Roll flavor. …I figured, those early electric guitar pickers would have used the Wah if it had been available at the time!

Please help support the creation of this album by pre-ordering your copy today. Here is the link to pre-order:


NEW ALBUM by JUSTIN JOHNSON – “B-Side Gold” Rock and Roll Album by Justin Johnson

For the past year, I’ve been in the studio writing, arranging, producing, and recording tracks for an album that defines what I love about rock & roll and the electric guitar.. and I have never been so excited to share the music that’s forming in the studio right now! This new album will be titled ‘B-Side Gold,’ & is inspired by the Rock & Roll B-Sides and Deep Cuts that made me fall in love with electric guitar to begin with.  


So many of my favorite songs were the B-Sides on records… the songs that weren’t designed and produced to be glossy “hits.” These were the songs that took chances and broke conventional pop song templates; putting more attention on the art of musical creation, and less attention on conforming to a musical “product” in a specific “genre” for a specific “market.” 

We’re recording the album at the legendary Cash Cabin Studio.  Cash Cabin was Johnny Cash’s own personal studio, where he recorded his American Recordings with producer Rick Rubin.  The Cabin & Studio is now owned by Johnny Cash & June Carter’s only son, Music Producer John Carter Cash.  We are also bringing aboard a host of wildly talented musicians, including Derek Phillips on drums (you may recognize him as the drummer for Hank Williams Jr.), Mark Winchester on bass (you may know him as bassist for Brian Setzer, always ready to bring down the house with that Rockabilly slap bass!), the indomitable Spike Nicer on vocals, and of course myself, Justin Johnson bringing my signature guitar stylings, along with GRAMMY Award Winning Engineer/Producer Chuck Turner .. and many more surprises to be announced along the way!  As a Kickstarter Supporter, you will receive updates and behind-the-scenes video peeks into the album as it’s being created, that no one else will have access to! 

Want to be part of making this album happen? 

If so, THANK YOU!  You can help make this album a reality by reading through the list of Rewards on my Kickstarter page, and selecting a reward level that appeals to you. Basically.. you buy something cool from us.. or even a preorder of the new album.. and the money you spend goes directly into recording, producing, pressing, and marketing the ‘B-Side Gold’ album!  You will be a huge part of making this album happen! 

Funding this album through Kickstarter allows the music to flow directly from me (the artist) to you (the listener) in the most pure way possible. Plus, there are rewards available through this Kickstarter that I normally wouldn’t offer outside of an album fundraiser, and Bonus Rewards added on to every level, to give you more for your money at every level! One-of-a-Kind Rewards & Free Bonus Additions!  It’s our way of saying “Thanks for Making it Happen!”  

We’ve already completed about half of the tracking for ‘B-Side Gold‘ but we need your support to bring this album across the finish line!