Author Archives: Live from the Guitar loft

You Could Win This Guitar!

Justin Johnson Guitar Giveaway!

As a way of celebrating 700,000 Subscribers on my Youtube Page and giving back, I’ve decided to GIVE AWAY A GUITAR every time the channel reaches 100,000 new Subscribers! …

The first giveaway will be this one-of-a-kind Justin Johnson Signature “Charred Whiskey Barrel Guitar” which I’ll give away as soon as this channel reaches 800,000 Subscribers.



NEW RELEASE! The Bootleg Series Vol. 2: Whiskey Sippin’ Music

NEW RELEASE! The Bootleg Series Vol. 2: Whiskey Sippin’ Music

The Bootleg Series: Volume 2 is here! The Bootleg Series is a compilation of solo guitar arrangements drawn from Justin Johnson’s most popular online video performances, that we mastered and released just for this collection.  We get so many requests to make these video performances available as music downloads, that we finally decided to answer the call and make it happen.  

Justin’s blues and slide guitar performances have racked up multiple millions of views online, & until The Bootleg Series, you could only hear those performances online in low-def streaming video format.  The Bootleg Series tracks have been mixed from their original recorded versions and mastered to give you the most detailed version available, without compromising the authentic, rootsy vibe of these live and impromptu performances. 
You will have the option to download the files in mobile-friendly MP3 format OR high-def, audiophile quality WAV format… or BOTH!

The Bootleg Series Vol. 2: Whiskey Sippin’ Music
• Whiskey Sippin’ Music
• Crawlin’ King Snake
• Shot Glass Slidin’
• Healing Blues Interlude
• Heavy Delta Blues
• Guitar Meditation
• Hoochie Coochie Man
• Healing Blues
• Old Hickory Sway

Justin Johnson Signature Thumb Picks – NOW AVAILABLE!

The Justin Johnson Signature thumb pick is based around a specially designed flat pick, so you can fully employ all of the techniques associated with flat picking, and use your pre-existing musical memory relating to flat picking methods.  This pick is attached to a specially designed adjustable strap, that securely and comfortably holds the flat pick against your finger, so you can ALSO use the full range of thumb-picking and fingerpicking techniques while the pick is held securely to your thumb.  

This velcro strap is easy to adjust, so that you can set the pick to naturally align with your most comfortable playing position.  Most other thumb picks can’t be aligned to YOUR position, so you have to alter your technique and muscle memory to work with the pick.  The Justin Johnson Signature Thumb Pick makes learning to use a thumb pick very easy, natural, and intuitive.  

The Justin Johnson Signature Thumb Picks come in two thickness gauges:

HEAVY GAUGE (1.0mm): The Thick Gauge picks are more rigid, and are designed to perform better with acoustic guitars and guitars with heavier gauge string sets.

MEDIUM GAUGE (0.80mm): The Medium Gauge picks are designed to have a subtle “give” when plucked.  This makes them better when used with electric guitars, guitars set up with lighter gauge strings, or if you do a lot of strumming.  

The Justin Johnson Signature Thumb Pick is engineered to offer you the best qualities of both a traditional thumb pick and a traditional flat pick, so you can take full advantage of each picking style, while seamlessly and effortlessly blending between them.   

Each package of Justin Johnson Signature Thumb Picks comes with (2) pre-assembled thumb pick sets (2 picks and 2 adjustable straps).  


JUST RELEASED! Justin Johnson’s One String Diddley Bow Instructional Course

Just Released! One-String Diddley Bow Instructional Course
People have been asking for this one for years, and it’s finally available! 
A full length video course, specifically for the One-String Diddley Bow

Need a Diddley Bow to go with it? We have a few available (including the exact same one Justin built & used to film this course) over on our 
Etsy page: Click Here to check them out!

“One-String Diddley Bow” Guitar Lesson Video Course 

Learning the One-String Diddley Bow is one of the best ways to quickly master the foundational techniques for Blues guitar and bottleneck slide!  Many blues legends started their musical journey playing the Diddley Bow, from Elmore James and Lightning Hopkins, to Blind Willie Johnson and Jimi Hendrix.  Whether you are a total beginner or a professional guitarist, this video course will help you tone up your blues chops the same way the masters did… on one string!  In this video course Justin Johnson guides you step-by-step with his patient and thorough teaching style, sharing the deeper techniques and knowledge that will allow you to master the Diddley Bow and refine your style as a guitarist.  

This full-length video course will give you foundational techniques for using the bottleneck slide, applying emotional vibrato, controlling your right and left hand techniques, muting, anchoring, secrets to playing in tune, getting better tone and rhythm, and much more.  These techniques are taught using songs examples from some fo the most iconic and deep-rooted melodies in American musical tradition.

On-Screen and PDF Tablature Included!

Intro to the One-String Diddley Bow
What is a Diddley Bow
History of the Diddley Bow
Learning the Parts of the Diddley Bow
How to Tune the Diddley Bow
Understanding Fret Markers 
How to Mark Your Own Frets 
Marking Frets Using Harmonics  
Marking Frets with String 
How to Hold the Diddley Bow
Balance and Control the Diddley Bow
How to Play with a Guitar Slide 
Which Finger To Use with the Guitar Slide 
Playing Slide with Your Ring Finger 
Playing Slide with Your Pinky Finger 
Getting Comfortable with the Guitar Slide
Playing in Tune with the Guitar Slide 
Sliding Between Notes
How to Use Vibrato 
Bo Diddley Beat
Left-Hand Muting 
How to Use a Guitar Pick
Up & Down Strokes
Keeping Good Rhythm
Slow Tempo Play-Along Track
Up-Beat Tempo Play-Along Track
Playing Scales on the Diddley Bow  
G Major Scale
Playing Scales in Tune 
Checking Tuning with a Chromatic Tuner
SONG WALKTHROUGH: When the Saints Go Marching In  
Slow Tempo Play-Along Track
Up-Beat Tempo Play-Along Track 
Taking The Song to the Next Level
G Minor Scale
Slow Tempo Play-Along Track 
Up-Beat Tempo Play-Along Track 
Taking The Song to the Next Level
The Blues Scale
SONG WALKTHROUGH: Wish I Was in Heaven Sitting Down
Slow Tempo Play-Along Track
Up-Beat Tempo Play-Along Track
Taking The Song to the Next Level
SONG WALKTHROUGH: Rollin’ & Tumblin’
Slow Tempo Play-Along Track
Up-Beat Tempo Play-Along Track
Taking The Song to the Next Level

Fingerpicking Patterns to Take Your Guitar Playing to the Next Level

If you have been looking for some fingerpicking exercises to shapen up your accuracy, break your old habits, and drill new muscle memory into all five fingers, then these patterns should keep you busy! I play these patterns every day to warm up, and get my fingers in shape, and promise that you will love’em… if they don’t drive you crazy first! Check them out in the following video…

If these patterns have you cursing at your guitar, and considering a life as a drummer… don’t smash your guitar yet… you just need some introductory fingerpicking techniques to build up your technique and confidence! Remember, practice and consistency is the key to developing good, consistent technique!

Follow these tips while you practice these patterns…

• Take it very slow at first and build up speed over time through repetition
• Get the first two exercises down before trying the rest… they get a lot harder
• Devote one finger for each string (with the thumb dedicated to the low E and A strings)
• Anchor your forearm on the edge of the guitar body

For Great Introductory Fingerpicking Tips, check out this video:


Open and alternate tunings can broaden the range and expression of your guitar playing and allow you to play seemingly impossible riffs with surprising ease. This is even more true when playing slide guitar. When you use the finger slide to play, you are essentially playing everything with one finger, so having a thorough understanding of open tunings and alternate tunings is even more important! Check out the video above, as I walk you through my 10 favorite tunings for slide guitar. Hopefully these tunings will give you some new ideas, and help you break out of your old boxes!


Open G: D-G-D-G-B-D

Open A: E-A-E-A-C#-E

Open D: D-A-D-F#-A-D

Open E: E-B-E-G#-B-E

Open E Minor: E-B-E-G-B-E

Open G Hybrid: D-G-D-G-B-E

Drop D: D-A-D-G-B-E

Drop G: E-G-D-G-B-E

Drop High D: E-A-D-G-B-D

Standard: E-A-D-G-B-E


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!