Category Archives: easy
I love a screaming guitar solo as much as anyone, but some of my favorite music to listen to is that greasy, slow, electric fingerpicking blues guitar. Lightning Hopkins, John Lee Hooker, and R.L. Burnside are some of my favorites in that style.
I’ve gotten several requests to cover the song “Hard Time Killing Floor Blues,” by Skip James. It’s a perfect slow blues song to perform as a solo 6-string arrangement, since it has such a killer vocal melody and baseline.
For this recording, I chose to pick on my vintage Harmony Monterey guitar. It’s got a clean and punchy acoustic tone, which I mic’ed with a WA-47 Tube mic from Warm Audio. I also plugged the guitar into a Fender Princeton Blackface (re-issue) with the vibrato intensity cranked to 11. The old Hershey bar pickup in the Harmony is in neck position, which also contributes to the warm, full-bodied electric tone. Watch the video above, for the complete details on the gear and settings I used.
If you want to check out more of my rig-rundowns, and get a behind-the-scenes look into my recordings and videos, Subscribe to my new channel “Live form the Guitar Loft” HERE. If you have song requests or gear questions, let me know in the comments there. That channel is devoted to answering questions and requests.
Make sure you click the “FOLLOW” button to the right of this, to get more of my articles. …and of course, check out my music, downloads, lessons, and signature guitars at www.JustinJohnsonStore.com
Justin Johnson’s Brand New FULL 6-STRING GUITAR LESSON SERIES has just been released for INSTANT DIGITAL DOWNLOAD! Available as individual downloads, or
Save $20 on the Full Set!
Whether you are a total beginner, or just want to brush up on the foundational techniques of fingerpicking, this course has got you covered. Justin Johnson breaks down the key elements that help you improve your fingerpicking quickly using a combination of song walkthroughs, warm-up exercises, detailed explanations, and in-screen tablature. This video course is designed to save you years of fingerpicking practice.
“Intermediate Fingerpicking” picks up right where “Fingerpicking Foundations” course leaves off. This video course will take you through a series of carefully composed song walkthroughs, designed to introduce you to increasingly more challenging and intricate fingerpicking techniques. If you have learned the basics, then “Intermediate Fingerpicking” will take your playing to the next level.
Slide Guitar Foundations
If you want to fast-track your slide guitar progress, the best way to do it is to master the foundational techniques from the ground up. In this course, Justin Johnson teaches everything from anchoring, muting, and vibrato techniques, to age-old secrets to developing a bluesy and soulful touch with the guitar slide. This course is perfect for total beginners, as well as experienced players who want to strengthen their foundational knowledge and weed out bad habits.
Intermediate Slide Guitar
This course is designed to flesh out and tighten up your slide guitar technique, taking you from intermediate into advanced level playing. You’ll learn Open Tunings, Delta Blues techniques, percussive techniques, advanced muting, anchoring, and much more. If you are familiar with basic slide guitar, but ready to take your playing to the next level, then dig into “Intermediate Slide Guitar.”
Hill Country Blues
Get back to your roots, and dig into the heart of blues guitar. In Justin Johnson’s “Hill Country Blues” video course, you’ll learn everything from creating a “whole band sound” on guitar, to proven strategies and techniques for improvising your own guitar solos. Justin uses in-depth song walkthroughs to teach you the inflections, riffs, and thought-process to master Hill Country Blues guitar.
One-Minute Riffs: Volume 1
“One-Minute Riffs: Volume 1” is a collection of musical lessons by Justin Johnson that will teach you a wealth of essential guitar techniques without you even knowing it! Each of the 30 riffs in this lesson series is so easy that you can learn it in one minute. However, you will also get valuable instruction on how to master these riffs, and then take them to the next level by applying them musically to your own style, arrangements, and performances.
I’ve been getting a lot of questions about the techniques I used to help develop my fingerpicking style over the years. When I was just starting to learn guitar, and through each stage of development, I would often hit walls and feel like my progress was dragging along too slowly. Each time I progressed past one of those frustrating plateaus, it was because I learned a new technique that helped guide me in the right direction. In the following video lesson, I will share some of those plateau-busting techniques that allowed me to develop quicker and more freely.
As you work through the exercises in this video lesson, don’t forget that practice is key. You will only be able to easily master these techniques through repetition. Also, make sure you follow the tips on anchoring and hand position, as they will save you hours of frustration once you incorporate them into your playing style.
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Guitar Slides come in a multitude of different shapes, textures, materials, weights, and sizes… and all of those factors affect the sound, playability, and versatility of the slide. Just like painters who use a combination of different brushes to create the details and textures of a painting, it’s important to learn about what distinguishes different guitar slides from one another, in order to make and informed decision next time you pick up the guitar.
I worked closely with Jim Dunlop to design and manufacture my Justin Johnson Signature Guitar Slide with an eye towards creating the best combination of tone, sustain, and feel that we could squeeze into one slide… but no single option beats having an arsenal of gear to choose from, so that you can select the perfect fit for each musical context.
I recently received several packages from around the world with some exciting, new, and innovative design concepts… along with some classic and re-imagined designs. Check out the following LIVE STREAM video and hang out with me while we get to know these slides and what makes them special.
Folks have been asking for months & it’s finally here!
Justin Johnson’s “Slide Technique for 4-String Guitar” instruction is now available via Digital Download!
Now with Bonus lesson features, as well! Here’s the link:
Nothing sounds Bluesier than the mournful wail of the Slide Guitar, whether from the smokey sounds of early Chicago Blues, or the back-porch scratch of a Delta Bluesman. This Instructional Video Series covers the tunings, techniques and trade secrets to Justin Johnson’s innovative Slide Guitar technique for the 4-String Guitar.
•Intro to Slide Guitar
•How To Hold the Slide
•Tunings for Slide Guitar
•“Riff in the Style of Muddy Waters”
•4-String Tuning Pattern #1
•Slide Guitar Basics
•Blues Vibrato Technique
•“Blues in the Style of Elmore James”
•4-String Tuning Pattern #2
•Classic Blues Riffs
•Video Guide – Tunings for the 4-String Guitar
•Video Tutorial – “Dust My Broom” for 4-String and 3-String Guitar
Some materials are just dying to be made into musical instruments, and ever since I first saw those whiskey-soaked oak barrels at the Jack Daniel’s Distillery in Lynchburg, Tennessee, I’ve always wondered what that wood would sound like if it could be plugged in and cranked up! Luckily, I’m not alone, because master guitar builder and instructor, Derek Lenard (better know as Big D Guitars) did exactly that! He took that old used barrel top, paired it with some reclaimed Tennessee barn wood, aged hardware, and some killer pickups.. and created a masterpiece!
Check out the videos below, where you see and hear this baby in action, then watch and listen as Big D walks you through every step of the build process. Don’t forget to subscribe to Big D’s Youtube Channel to check out what he’s building next.
Thanks for keeping the Roots alive! Click “FOLLOW” on the right-hand side of this page to stay up-to-date with new lessons and articles.
JACK DANIEL’S WHISKEY BARREL | SOLO SLIDE GUITAR SOLO
LIVE UNBOXING OF THE JACK DANIEL’S BARREL GUITAR
HOW TO BUILD A WHISKEY BARREL GUITAR: PART 1
HOW TO BUILD A WHISKEY BARREL GUITAR: PART 2
HOW TO BUILD A WHISKEY BARREL GUITAR: PART 3
HOW TO BUILD A WHISKEY BARREL GUITAR: PART 4
HOW TO BUILD A WHISKEY BARREL GUITAR: PART 5
The vocal timbre and mournful wail of the slide guitar has become inseparable from the concept of Blues Guitar. However, in order to master the classic Blues guitar styles associated with the finger slide, you must first familiarize yourself with the different tunings that are key to those styles. Below is a list of my favorite, and most used, tunings for Blues Slide Guitar. With each tuning I’ve included a video, demonstrating how that tuning can be used to create a stylistic mood, which differs with each tuning. Remember, the more tunings you become familiar with, the more versatile you will be as a musician.
OPEN D & OPEN E TUNING
Open E: (E-B-E-G#-B-E) – tuned to E major chord
Open D: (D-A-D-F#-A-D) – tuned to D major chord
These two tunings are basically the same tuning… the only difference is that Open D is tuned one whole step lower than Open E. The tighter string tension of Open E makes it easier to play with low action, but the lower pitch of Open D produces more low-end body, and can give you a swampier vibe. That swampy vibe is all over this following video clip, which is is Open D tuning…
OPEN G & OPEN A TUNING
Open G: (D-G-D-G-B-D) – tuned to G major chord
Open A: (E-A-E-A-C#-E) – tuned to A major chord
These two tunings are also, in essence, the same tuning. The difference is that Open G is tuned a whole step lower than Open A. Delta blues guitarists like Robert Johnson made this tuning style famous. The sound of this tuning is great for solo guitar Blues playing, and allows the player to construct elaborate bass lines, since the root note is on the 5th string, as opposed to the 6th (bass) string, thereby allowing the player two bass strings for the thumb to play bass lines and 4 strings for the fingers to pluck melody notes.
Listen to how the bass lines play an important role in this following video, which is in Open G tuning…
Standard Tuning: (E-A-D-G-B-E) – not tuned to a chord
Standard Tuning is the most widely-used and standardized tuning for conventional 6-string guitar playing. It’s great for fretted (non-slide) playing because it makes many chord shapes and scale patterns comfortable for the fingers to reach. While it presents certain challenges for slide guitarists, Standard Tuning is actually a very versatile tuning for slide playing, offering many convenient chord fragments, both major and minor, up and down the fretboard. The key to understanding how to play slide guitar in Standard Tuning comes with learning how to mute the unnecessary strings, to prevent them from sounding. I have created an entire instructional DVD for playing in Standard Tuning, which you can check out.. just CLICK HERE for more info. The following video is an example of slide guitar in Standard Tuning…
OPEN Dm & Em TUNING
Open Dm (D-A-D-F-A-D) – tuned to D minor chord
Open Em (E-B-E-G-B-E) – tuned to E minor chord
While these tunings are not very well-known historically, they are some of my personal favorite, and most-used, slide guitar tunings. They are particularly great for playing in minor keys, but also work very well for Blues styles, even if the underlying harmonies are major. Again, these two tunings are essentially the same tuning, but Open Em is tuned one whole step higher than Open Dm. The following video shows how this tuning can be used in both fretted and slide styles. The acoustic rhythm guitar is tuned to Open Dm, and the 6-string lap steel is also tuned to Open Dm…
Thanks for keeping the Roots alive! Click “FOLLOW” on the right-hand side of this page to stay up-to-date with new lessons and articles.
This lesson is an excerpt from Justin Johnson’s Instructional Video Series
“Roots Music According to Justin Johnson: 3-String Guitar”
The Full-Length Instructional Video Series comes complete with Guitar Tablature and is available as DVD or Digital Download at:
Open G is one of the most versatile and easy-to-learn tunings for the 3-string and 4-string guitar. An open tuning is when a guitar’s open strings are tuned to a chord, therefore “Open G” tuning refers to tuning the open strings to a G major chord (G-D-G for 3-String) & (G-D-G-B for 4-String).
Open G tuning makes many riffs, scales, chords shapes, and chord progressions very easy to play when you are in the key of G, since your open strings make a G major chord. I was recently asked this question: “I am comfortable playing songs in the key of G on my 3- & 4-string, but is there a way I can use the same patterns to play in different keys by re-tuning the guitar?” The answer is yes! It’s very easy to change keys (or transpose) by simply changing the notes you are tuning your open strings to.
Below are two guides to transposing Open G tuning to different keys. The column on the left tells you what key to tune to. The middle column tells you what notes to tune each string to (bass note on the left, high pitched note on the right). The column on the right tells you which string gauges work best for each particular tuning. For example, if you know a song on the 3-string guitar in Open G tuning, but you want to play it lower, in the key of D, then you would tune the guitar to D-A-D and use the bass strings (E-A-D) from a 6-string guitar pack.
NOTE: Be careful not to put too much tension on a string, or it may break. With certain tunings, the stings may seem too loose or too tight for your specific preferences. This differs depending on your personal taste, string gauge, and the scale length of your guitar. The general rule is that if your strings feel too loose once tuned, try heavier gauge strings; if your strings feel too tight, try lighter gauge strings.
To really dig into the chord and scale patterns that will help you master Open G tuning on the 3-String & 4-String, check out my Chords and Scales Book HERE.
Thanks for keeping the Roots alive, and don’t forget to click “FOLLOW” on the right-hand side of this page to stay up-to-date with new lessons and articles!
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