Robert Johnson Licks (Guitar Lesson)


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Hawkeye Herman

Robert Johnson Licks

Hawkeye teaches several Robert Johnson licks in this lesson. These licks are played with a slide in open G tuning.

Taught by Hawkeye Herman in Blues Guitar with Hawkeye seriesLength: 14:40Difficulty: 2.5 of 5
Chapter 1: (05:15) Robert Johnson Style Licks The licks taught in this lesson were popularized by blues legends such as Robert Johnson, Willie Brown, and Son House. Over the years, these types of riffs and licks have found their way into the playing of countless guitarists such as Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page, and Keith Richards, and Rory Block. .

G7 Chordal Riff

This riff is comprised of an open G major chord played against a melody line on the first string. The melody notes G, F, and D function as the root, b7, and 5 of a G7 chord. Try using this riff over the I chord when playing a 12 bar blues in the key of G.

Riff 2

Hawkeye demonstrates this riff in a quarter note triplet rhythm. Various different rhythms can be applied to the riff to fit the musical context that you are playing in. For example, you may want to play it in steady eighth note triplets to create a busier rhythmic style. Riff 2 as it is listed under the "Supplemental Content" tab presents a slight variation on the basic G7 riff. Riff 2 combines eighth notes and eighth note triplets.

This riff can be played by strumming the top five strings with a pick. It can also be played fingerstyle. Under "Supplemental Content," the riff is notated in a fingerstyle fashion. When playing the lick in this manner, Hawkeye plays the bass notes with his thumb pick. He uses the index and ring fingers to brush up on the first and second strings. He alternates these two fingers in order to play the riff at rapid tempos.

Variations

Since the fourth string and the first string are both tuned to the note D in this tuning, the melody line from the G7 Chordal Riff and Riff 2 can be transferred from the first string to the fourth string. You can even play the melody on both strings at the same time. Compare and contrast the sound of these riffs and variations. How would you describe the differences?

Lick 1

Lick can be played with or without a slide. When playing with a slide, slide into the Bb note on the third string instead of bending it a quarter step.

This lick contains notes from both the G minor pentatonic scale and the G major pentatonic scale. Frequently the minor third (Bb) and major third (B) of the key are used together in licks to create a distinct blues sound. The spelling of these two scales is listed below.

G Minor Pentatonic: G, Bb, C, D, F, G
G Major Pentatonic: G, A, B, D, E, G

Combinations of these scales are frequently used over dominant and major chord types to create a bluesy sound. The b3 of this scale (Bb) rubs nicely against the major third (B) within a G7 or G chord.

Note: For more information about these scales, please visit the JamPlay Scale Library. This site feature can be accessed through the "Teaching Tools" button on the left side of the home page.

This lick is especially effective when used at the end of the G7 chordal lick or any of its subsequent variations.

Lick 1 Variation

Lick 1 can be transposed down an octave. This variation can be used as a tag at the end of the G chord riff that features the melody line on the fourth string.
Chapter 2: (09:31) Alternate Licks Riff 3

Riff 3 is another riff that can be used over the tonic chord of a blues in G major. It must be played finger style. Similar to the riffs in the previous scene, the bass notes are plucked with the thumb pick. The index and middle fingers brush up on the three treble strings. Alternate these fingers to keep the rhythm consistent.

During beats 1 and 2, a G7 chord is played with a G bass note. On beat 3, an F#7 chord is played with a G bass note. This chord can also be analyzed as a Go7 chord. Since the notes in this chord are located a half step below, the chord is quite effective at embellishing and dressing up the sound of the G7 chord. This technique is referred to as chord planing. Chord plaining occurs when a particular chord voicing is slid up or down chromatically.

Similar to the riffs discussed in the previous scene, Riff 3 can be combined with a number of Robert Johnson-esque licks. You can tag on a chordal lick played at the 12th fret. Combine this idea with Lick 1 from the previous scene.

Riff 4

Riff 4 is another Robert Johnson riff that can be used over the tonic chord of a blues in G. The riff is especially effective since it can be transposed to any location on the fretboard. By transposing the lick to the keys of C and D, you can play an entire 12 bar blues progression in G major. Hawkeye demonstrates how to transpose the lick to the IV and V chords at 05:38. Pay careful attention to how these chords must be re-fingered. Also, due to the re-fingering, the fifth of the C and D chords must be played in the bass instead of the root note.

Once again, apply the same right hand fingerings to the lick as demonstrated in the previous licks. This lick has a steady triplet feel. Consequently, it is typically notated in 12/8 time.

In 12/8, the eighth note is counted as the beat. There are 12 beats in a measure. Eighth notes are subdivided into four groups of three. For more information about this time signature, please visit the following lessons: Steve Eulberg Phase 1 Lesson 15, and Dennis Hodges Phase 2 Metal Lesson 8. In this signature, the drummer typically plays the triplet rhythm on the high hat or ride cymbal. This is usually a good indication that a compound meter such as 6/8 or 12/8 is being used.

Putting It All Together

Hawkeye demonstrates how all of the materials from this lesson can be combined together in a practical musical context. He adds them and combines them together at 05:14. He uses these riffs and licks while singing "Crossroads" by Robert Johnson. 06:18.

Final Thoughts

Playing blues guitar is like speaking. The more developed your vocabulary is, the more interesting your speech will be. Guitar is the same way. As you learn more licks and riffs, you are free to add a more spontaneous element to your playing.

Also remember that lead guitar licks in open G can be transferred to open D if you move all the notes down one string. Licks from D can be played in G if each note is moved up one string higher.

Video Subtitles / Captions


Member Comments about this Lesson

Discussions with our instructors are just one of the many benefits of becoming a member of JamPlay.


rkm62rkm62 replied on September 12th, 2013

Love this simple lesson. So much value here. Know I know where NRBQ got that ain't no free song lic from.

Hawkeye.HermanHawkeye.Herman replied on September 12th, 2013

Thanks so much for appreciating the simplicity and value of this lesson. Please keep in mind that as great as Robert Johnson was, many of his songs and much of his guitar playing is/was derivative/can be traced to others, his contemporaries and his predecessors. Robert Johnson is/was one of the greatest examples of how deeply 'schooling' oneself in the traditions of blues music, past and present, can open up a Universe of 'originality,' and self expression. I hope you continue to enjoy these lessons. Thanks again for your post.

carl984carl984 replied on February 14th, 2012

sorry, let me get my thoughts together and get back, thanks

Hawkeye.HermanHawkeye.Herman replied on February 12th, 2012

Sorry, Carl ... but I don't have a clue as to what you're doing ... you say 'bar at 7th' and at the 6th fret and the 5th fret ... but you're not telling me what you are barring ... are you making a barre chord? ... are you playing all of the barred notes at the same time or are you arpeggiating the notes? Do you know what key you're in? If you finish on the open 3rd string, that is a G note, and you may be resolving in the key of G. Sorry, but without accurate/ standard guitaristic communication or a video of what you're doing ... I'm totally confused and at a loss to tell you if what you're doing is making any blues/musical sense.

carl984carl984 replied on February 12th, 2012

does this sound ok for an ending, bar at 7th fret, play 2nd to 5th string, bar at 6th (Play 2nd to 5th string), bar at 5h (play 2nd to 5th string), then to 1st striing 5,3,2,0. then to 3rd string 3. open on 2nd, open on 3rd. My ear is not the best. Hope this makes sense.

Hawkeye.HermanHawkeye.Herman replied on October 17th, 2011

Old time musicians know many guitar showpieces, but few are as widespread as 'Spanish Fandango'. Few, what's more, go back so far. The origin of 'Spanish Fandango' is uncertain, but it is clearly of the 19th century rather than the 20th century, belonging to the parlour tradition from which came, say, 'The Siege of Sebastopol'. 'The Siege of Sebastopol' was published in 1880, and it probably explains why rural musicians call open D tuning 'Sevastopol'. Similarly, 'Spanish Fandango' may provide the origin of 'Spanish' as a rural musician's regular term for open G tuning. 'Fandango' is commonly performed in open G. Old Time Music#6 Autumn 1972, p12 http://www.weeniecampbell.com/wiki/index.php?title=Adventures_in_Vestapol http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=17144

theleesthelees replied on October 17th, 2011

Enjoyed all your lessons...How about the term "Vestapol" for open tuning...Any idea where that originated? Thanks Don

Hawkeye.HermanHawkeye.Herman replied on October 17th, 2011

Don, So glad you're enjoying these lessons. Yes, I have a very good idea of where the term 'Vestapol' comes from ... The term 'Vestapol' for open D tuning is derived from a late 19th Century/early 20th Century musical piece called "The Siege of Sebastopol," which was very popular amongst parlor players and was played in open D tuning (DADF#AD). The term "Spanish" tuning for open G (DGDGBD) is derived from a popular late 19th Century/early 20th Century musical piece called "Spanish Fandango," which was also very popular amongst home/parlor players and was played in open G tuning. More information here: http://www.weeniecampbell.com/wiki/index.php?title=Adventures_in_Vestapol ... http://www.acousticfingerstyle.com/OpenD/openDframe.htm ... http://books.google.com/books?id=6UEJ7IsmMOYC&pg=PA233&lpg=PA233&dq=spanish+tuning+derivation&source=bl&ots=l35584bXgD&sig=tPL2M7BY3dFMy_FidYDQ5guclaA&hl=en#v=onepage&q=spanish%20tuning%20derivation&f=false ... I hope you continue to enjoy these lessons.

daddy_mikedaddy_mike replied on October 14th, 2011

oh, my goodness, we're going to the crossroads! Hawkeye, you're a genius. A genius of a teacher. I love, you, man!

Hawkeye.HermanHawkeye.Herman replied on October 14th, 2011

Thanks so much for the kind comments, Mihai. Very much appreciated. There's no need for you to sell your soul to the Devil in order to learn to play the blues ... just follow my lessons in the order they are presented ... (don't 'cherry pick'/skip around) and you'll gain a strong foundation and understanding of blues guitar and eventually, with patience and practice, you'll be able to play freely and improvise as you wish/express yourself. I've given a lot of thought as to the order and content of these lessons ... so I hope you'll progress through the lesson series in the order I've presented them ... this is not a race to some finish line ... this is an art form and a life's work ... of joy. Be sure to watch som of my videos so that you can see how I use the techniques I teach here online when I'm performing in concerts and at festivals ... try to play along with me, and 'steal' some of my licks/riffs/ideas ... http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=HawkeyeH&view=videos ... Don't rush, be patient with yourself, and enjoy the journey and progress at your own speed and ability. Again, thanks so much for your comments and for 'traveling' with me on the 'blues highway' here at JamPlay.com. I hope you continue to enjoy these lessons.

daddy_mikedaddy_mike replied on October 15th, 2011

Thank you for the comment. I followed all the lessons untill here. I keep on going. Your lessons are my hobby. I' m doing the fingerstyle lessons of jim Deeming in the same time. God keep you in good health, mr. Hawkeye. You spread the joy of music and by this make the world of better place. Of course, for those who are patient to follow your lessons step by step. The satisfaction comes in time. Thank you for you're time. it is very kind of you to reply to every member that posts.

Hawkeye.HermanHawkeye.Herman replied on October 15th, 2011

I really appreciate your enthusiasm and 'discipline' in following my lessons step-by-step, Mihai. It's my pleasure to share my love for the music with EVERYONE who shows an interest. Keep the blues alive!!! Enjoy the process of learning and playing the blues. ;-) Thanks again for your kind words/comments.

theleesthelees replied on September 22nd, 2011

Hawkeye...Any idea how the term "Vestapol" originated for open tuning? I have researched and no definite answer yet. Just bought a resonator guitar and am enjoying the lessons. Don

jkrivisjkrivis replied on July 27th, 2009

point well taken!

jkrivisjkrivis replied on July 27th, 2009

Agreed! I have begun the journey with about 1000 old recordings. Just discovered Blind Boy Fuller in a big way, and trying to learn "Bulldog" song. Great voice. BTW, do you ever do private teaching?

Hawkeye.HermanHawkeye.Herman replied on July 27th, 2009

Glad you're studying the masters. There's some Blind Boy Fuller lessons on my web site. I taught private lessons, when not on tour, when I lived in the Bay Area for many years. Now I live in S. Oregon and I rarely teach private lessons, just guitar workshops at music/blues festivals. Why would anyone take private lessons these days, for $40 per hour, when you can take so many jamplay.com lessons for $20 for a month, and have the same content, and the student has the ability to have/make me repeat something a million times until they get it ... ;-) Of course, if one has a specific 'need,' to study some unique artist or aspect of the blues, then private lessons are useful.

jkrivisjkrivis replied on July 26th, 2009

Hawkeye - went to your page and found pdf of Elmore James "Dust My Broom" but no audio or video. Is that what you had in mind? Tough to get flavor of instruction without your generous direction.

Hawkeye.HermanHawkeye.Herman replied on July 26th, 2009

Thanks for checking it out. There's no audio/vide, just .pdf files of guitar lessons at my web site. In all cases, whether it's Elmore James, Robert Johnson, or Rev. Gary Davis, or anyone, you should always listen to the original artists. If you don't have a collection of blues recordings, you need to start one. Listening to blues music by many artists is part of the deal if you want to be familiar, know, and play the music. I cannot imagine trying to learn any kind of music without listening to as many artists in that style as possible, and growing a collection of your favorites. I have a couple of thousand LPs, about 1,500 CDs, and even 800 old 78rpm records, in all the styles of music I enjoy, not just blues. My collection is always growing. Example; Eric Clapton would be at a great loss for material without his extensive record collection of old blues recordings. Seek out recordings by those whom you're interested in and use their music/recordings to augment my lessons. I can't imagine trying to learn blues without 'consulting' the Masters who went before us. Please, don't just take it from me via these lessons. ;-) Seek out and listen to Elmore James, etc., ... and other many great original artists ... if you really want to be a student of and learn the blues tradition. I still do, and I've been playing blues for almost 50 years.

jkrivisjkrivis replied on July 25th, 2009

Hawkeye - all of your lessons are terrific, but this one simply takes it to another level. Wondering if you might consider teaching Cocaine Blues (Rev Gary Davis version) and Pickin' The Blues (Elmore James)? Pickin' has everything in it from your past lessons and Cocaine seems to help with finger picking concepts. Thanks again, Jeff

Hawkeye.HermanHawkeye.Herman replied on July 26th, 2009

jkrivis, Thanks so much for enjoying the lessons and for your kind comments. You can learn some Elmore James music at my web site 'guitar lessons' page here http://www.hawkeyeherman.com/guitar-lessons.htm and I might consider Rev. Davis's 'Cocaine Blues' in the future as a 'phase three' lesson. There are many more lessons of mine to come, in the 'phase two' and 'phase three' areas. Your input is appreciated. I hope you continue to enjoy these lessons. Thanks again.

Hawkeye.HermanHawkeye.Herman replied on June 11th, 2009

hally, Thanks. You'll gain a strong foundation in blues and be able create/play at will, as you please, if you follow the lesson plans from the beginning. However, enjoy these lessons, as you please, you'll still learn a lot, I believe.

hallyhally replied on June 11th, 2009

very good

Blues Guitar with Hawkeye

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

The blues is a distinctly American style of music. Many popular genres such as jazz, rock, and country music draw upon basic blues concepts. Consequently, it is advantageous for any guitarist to study the blues.



Lesson 1

Introduction to Blues

Hawkeye Herman introduces the blues. He explains the 12 bar blues chords and the poetic format that blues lyrics typically follow.

Length: 19:25 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 2

Understanding Blues Chords

Hawkeye explains how the I, IV, and V chords are used in a 12 bar blues progression.

Length: 12:12 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 3

Blues Rhythm

Hawkeye demonstrates common strumming patterns used in blues music. He also explains how country music evolved from the blues.

Length: 19:42 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 4

Intro to the Blues Shuffle

The shuffle is one of the most common rhythms used in blues music. Hawkeye introduces the most basic shuffle rhythm pattern.

Length: 18:12 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 5

More Blues Shuffle

Hawkeye covers the blues shuffle in greater depth.

Length: 13:13 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 6

The Blues Turnaround

Hawkeye introduces and explains a common blues turnaround.

Length: 7:45 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 7

Interesting Blues Turnaround

Hawkeye demonstrates various ways of arpeggiating the blues turnaround from the previous lesson.

Length: 8:08 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 8

Moving the Turnaround

Hawkeye explains how the turnaround from the previous lesson can be transposed to all 12 keys.

Length: 5:57 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 9

Turnaround in the Bass

Hawkeye explains how the blues turnaround can be played on the bass strings.

Length: 11:12 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 10

Turnaround Practice

Hawkeye provides some tips regarding how to integrate turnarounds into the context of the 12 bar blues form.

Length: 3:58 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 11

Turnarounds as Lead

In this lesson Hawkeye will explain how you can use turnarounds as a way to play basic lead.

Length: 0:00 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 12

Subtle Changes

Hawkeye demonstrates how subtle changes made to the blues shuffle can have a profound impact on the overall sound of the 12 bar form.

Length: 7:12 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 13

Blues Shuffle Variations

Hawkeye demonstrates more blues shuffle variations. He discusses playing individual notes and palm muting.

Length: 7:23 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 14

Bass Blues Shuffle

In this lesson, Hawkeye teaches a bass version of the blues shuffle that mimics a common left-hand piano pattern.

Length: 10:49 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 15

Turnaround Exercise

Hawkeye presents an exercise that will enable you to play a turnaround over the blues form in all twelve keys.

Length: 10:44 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 16

Delta Blues Turnaround

Hawkeye teaches a Delta blues turnaround in the key of A. This turnaround is played in the style of Robert Johnson.

Length: 10:45 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 17

Delta Blues Turnaround #2

Hawkeye Herman teaches a new Delta blues turnaround. This lick was inspired by Robert Johnson.

Length: 7:12 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 18

Robert Johnson Style

Hawkeye Herman teaches more components of Robert Johnson's signature sound.

Length: 27:38 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 19

Movable Chords

Hawkeye introduces some common, movable chord shapes.

Length: 17:42 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 20

Movable Chord Review

Hawkeye reviews movable chords in this lesson. He explains how these chord voicings can be used in a practical blues context.

Length: 5:41 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 21

Basic Blues Scale

Hawkeye Herman introduces the minor pentatonic scale in this lesson, the most commonly used scale in blues lead guitar.

Length: 23:54 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 22

Passing Notes

Hawkeye builds on the pentatonic scale. He introduces "blue" notes, which transform the pentatonic scale into the minor blues scale.

Length: 12:50 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 23

Scales and Keys

Hawkeye explains how to transpose the minor pentatonic and minor blues scales to different keys.

Length: 21:18 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 24

Finding the Key

Hawkeye Herman explains how to determine the key of a blues song. This information is essential if you wish to play lead over a song.

Length: 15:31 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 25

Lightnin' Hopkins Style

In this lesson, Hawkeye will bring together much of what he has taught in this lesson series and apply it to the style of Lightnin' Hopkins.

Length: 16:36 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 26

Treble Shuffle

Hawkeye explains how to play the blues shuffle on the treble strings.

Length: 9:22 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 27

The Great River Road

Hawkeye Herman teaches you how to play his original song, "The Great River Road," in this phenomenal lesson.

Length: 16:39 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 28

Mississippi John Hurt Style

Hawkeye covers the guitar style of Mississippi John Hurt. This style makes heavy use of alternating bass lines.

Length: 14:48 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 29

Piano Blues

Hawkeye teaches an original piece called "Piano Blues." He teaches this song to further demonstrate the alternating bass line.

Length: 13:20 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 30

Blues Accompaniment

Hawkeye Herman teaches a beautiful blues accompaniment pattern.

Length: 10:11 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 31

Stop-Time Blues

Hawkeye introduces the stop-time blues rhythm.

Length: 17:21 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 32

Sweet Home Chicago

Hawkeye Herman explains how to play Robert Johnson's "Sweet Home Chicago."

Length: 16:17 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 33

Eight Bar Blues

Hawkeye introduces the eight bar blues progression.

Length: 22:28 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 34

8 Bar Blues Key Transposition

Hawkeye takes the 8 bar blues material from the last lesson and explains how to transpose it to different keys.

Length: 6:39 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 35

Classic 8 Bar Blues

Hawkeye teaches a classic 8 bar blues tune in the style of Brownie McGhee and Big Bill Broonzy.

Length: 25:10 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 36

Playing Multiple Notes

In this lesson Hawkeye revisits the blues/pentatonic scale and talks about playing multiple notes at the same time.

Length: 9:42 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 37

Classic End Tag

Hawkeye Herman teaches a classic blues song ending. He also explains how it can be played in different keys.

Length: 9:42 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 38

Basic Blues Slide

Hawkeye Herman covers the basics of slide technique and provides exercises to demonstrate them.

Length: 25:49 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 39

Slide Guitar and Open D Tuning

Hawkeye Herman introduces open D tuning. He explains how to play a 12 bar blues progression with a slide in this tuning.

Length: 14:56 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 40

Ramblin' On My Mind

Hawkeye Herman demonstrates the classic Robert Johnson song, "Ramblin' On My Mind" in open D tuning.

Length: 8:41 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 41

Blues Shuffle in Open D

Hawkeye explains how to play the blues shuffle in open D tuning.

Length: 0:00 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 42

Open D Harmony Shuffle

Hawkeye teaches the "harmony" version of the shuffle in open D tuning.

Length: 5:15 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 43

Open D Turnaround

Hawkeye teaches a simple blues turnaround in open D tuning.

Length: 9:00 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 44

Open D Slide Licks

Hawkeye Herman teaches some open D slide guitar licks. These licks are inspired by the song "Ramblin' On My Mind" by Robert Johnson.

Length: 8:14 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 45

Pentatonic Scale in Open D

Hawkeye Herman explains how to play the D minor pentatonic scale in Open D tuning.

Length: 4:00 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 46

Ramblin' On My Mind

Hawkeye challenges you to play "Ramblin' On My Mind" using the techniques from the past couple of lessons.

Length: 4:03 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 47

Rock and Slide Guitar

Hawkeye shows that open D tuning and slide guitar are not exclusive to the blues. He provides an exercise that demonstrates how this tuning can be used in rock music.

Length: 15:55 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 48

D Tuning Chords

Hawkeye returns to the world of open D tuning. He introduces various chord voicings and explains how they can be used in the blues.

Length: 10:00 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 49

You Got To Move

In this lesson, Hawkeye teaches a classic blues song by Mississippi Fred McDowell - "You Got To Move".

Length: 9:03 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 50

You Got to Move Melody

Hawkeye Herman demonstrates how to play the melody of "You Got to Move" with a slide.

Length: 6:51 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 51

Slide Guitar and Blues Licks

Hawkeye Herman talks about playing and creating blues licks with the slide.

Length: 9:53 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 52

Elmore James Style

Hawkeye Herman breaks down important aspects of Elmore James' style.

Length: 23:11 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 53

Blues Licks and Riffs

Hawkeye teaches some versatile blues licks and riffs that can be used in open D tuning.

Length: 11:15 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 54

Open G Tuning

Hawkeye Herman teaches the basics of open G tuning.

Length: 7:28 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 55

G Tuning Chords

Hawkeye gives a brief overview of chords and how they are played in open G tuning.

Length: 6:11 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 56

Blues Scale in Open G Tuning

Hawkeye gives a brief rundown of how the blues / minor pentatonic scale can be played in open G tuning.

Length: 4:48 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 57

G Tuning Accompaniment

Hawkeye talks about playing accompaniment using open G tuning.

Length: 7:44 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 58

Improvising in G Tuning

Improvisation using the minor pentatonic / blues scale is discussed in open G tuning. Hawkeye also touches on Robert Johnson's song, "Walkin' Blues."

Length: 7:26 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 59

Open G Shuffle Rhythm

In this lesson, Hawkeye Herman talks about playing the blues shuffle in open G tuning. He also shows some basic turnarounds.

Length: 10:37 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 60

Open G Shuffle Variations

Hawkeye reviews the blues shuffle in open G tuning. He demonstrates shuffle variations as well as a few licks, turnarounds, and other tidbits.

Length: 15:45 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 61

Robert Johnson Licks

Hawkeye teaches several Robert Johnson licks in this lesson. These licks are played with a slide in open G tuning.

Length: 14:40 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 62

G Tuning and the Capo

Hawkeye introduces the capo and explains how it can be used. This lesson is still in the context of G tuning.

Length: 10:28 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 63

Come On In My Kitchen

Hawkeye Herman showcases the power of slide guitar by demonstrating the classic Robert Johnson song, "Come On In My Kitchen."

Length: 6:33 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 64

Skip James Style

Hawkeye Herman gives a brief rundown of Skip James' blues guitar style. This lesson also focuses on playing in open tunings without a slide.

Length: 19:15 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 65

Open D to Open G

Hawkeye demonstrates how to take a song from open D tuning and play it in open G. He uses the song "No Expectations" by the Rolling Stones as an example.

Length: 10:26 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 66

Drop D Tuning

Hawkeye shows you the wonders of drop D tuning and teaches his rendition of "Big Road Blues."

Length: 30:30 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 67

Statesboro Blues

Hawkeye goes over the fantastic song "Statesboro Blues" by Blind Willie McTell in Drop D tuning.

Length: 27:12 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 68

Blind Lemon Jefferson

Hawkeye discusses some history behind the great blues guitarist Blind Lemon Jefferson. He covers the song "Matchbox Blues" to provide an example of his style.

Length: 19:40 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 69

Minor Blues

Hawkeye explains the chord changes used in a minor blues progression.

Length: 12:53 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 70

The Capo

Hawkeye talks about the capo and its many uses.

Length: 22:32 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 71

Song Endings

By user request, Hawkeye shares ideas on how to end songs in this lesson.

Length: 21:26 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 72

Stop Time Blues

In this lesson, Hawkeye Herman returns to the wonderful world of stop-time blues. He teaches a few more ways to play in this glorious style.

Length: 17:53 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 73

Eight Bar Blues

Hawkeye talks about the eight bar blues and uses some classic blues songs as examples.

Length: 26:19 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 74

Blues Mambo

Hawkeye talks all about the blues mambo in this lesson.

Length: 16:09 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 75

Movable Endings

Hawkeye explains how all the endings you've learned up to this point can be transposed to any key.

Length: 31:53 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 76

Movable Blues Scale

Hawkeye talks about transposing the minor pentatonic scale to various keys.

Length: 16:58 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 77

Blues Scale Lead

Hawkeye explains how the blues scale can be used to play lead in any song.

Length: 30:57 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 78

Spanning the Neck

Hawkeye explains how the blues scale can span the neck in any key.

Length: 22:09 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
Lesson 79

The Blues Had a Baby

Hawkeye talks about the background of rock 'n roll and how it is connected to blues.

Length: 21:42 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 80

Fun Licks

This lesson is filled with fun licks and lick techniques.

Length: 17:32 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 81

Spanning the Neck Continued

Hawkeye brings more blues wisdom to you in this lesson about spanning the neck.

Length: 18:18 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 82

Barre Chords Refresher

Hawkeye provides a few useful tips on playing barre chords.

Length: 13:18 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 83

Chord Relationships

Hawkeye discusses how the visual shapes of chords relate to one another on the fretboard.

Length: 15:06 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 84

Chord Relationships Continued

Hawkeye explains how to find the I, IV, and V chords in all 12 major keys.

Length: 8:43 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 85

Shuffle Rhythm Review

Hawkeye answers member questions on the shuffle rhythm.

Length: 16:19 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 86

Key of A Idea

Hawkeye shares an idea in the key of A that you can apply to your blues playing.

Length: 18:15 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 87

Thumbpick Vs. Flatpick

Thumbpick Vs. Flatpick: A most common question asked among guitarists is discussed in this lesson.

Length: 15:13 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 88

Capo Ideas

Hawkeye shares his ideas on the capo and explains why he thinks it is important for every guitarist to own one.

Length: 18:34 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 89

Everything is Movable

Hawkeye reiterates that everything is movable on the guitar and provides some fresh new ideas.

Length: 12:27 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 90

Bass Notes in Treble

Hawkeye explains how to add variety to the shuffle pattern by transferring the bass notes to the treble register and by adding palm muting. He also explains how you can create your own shuffle variations.

Length: 21:21 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 91

Treble Shuffle

Hawkeye provides more amazing tips and tricks on moving your shuffle rhythm to the treble for a unique sound.

Length: 16:50 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 92

Creating Solos

Hawkeye revisits the techniques learned in the last few lessons and explains how to tie tie them together to create solos.

Length: 9:46 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 93

Transposing Songs

Hawkeye provides some great tips for transposing any song you want to learn to a different key.

Length: 17:31 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 94

History of Blues

This exciting lesson dives into some of the earliest history of blues music and how it has shaped popular music today.

Length: 13:52 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 95

Blues is the Roots

Hawkeye Herman explains why "blues is the roots, and everything else is the fruits."

Length: 8:41 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 96

The Style of Hank Williams

Hawkeye discusses the history and style of Hank Williams.

Length: 17:07 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 97

The Style of Jimmie Rodgers

Hawkeye demonstrates some key aspects of Jimmie Rodgers' style.

Length: 12:30 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 98

Boom-Chicka Strum

Hawkeye demonstrates the "boom-chicka" strum and explains various ways you can incorporate it into your playing.

Length: 22:44 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 99

Fun Runs

Hawkeye Herman explains how to spice up your rhythm playing by incorporating bass runs between chord changes.

Length: 16:20 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 100

Review & Practice

Hawkeye Herman celebrates lesson 100 with a short but sweet review of what you've learned in the past couple of lessons.

Length: 6:51 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 101

Song Medley

Hawkeye Herman demonstrates rhythmic concepts from earlier lessons by playing a fun medley.

Length: 13:08 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 102

Hawkeye's Favorite Licks

Hawkeye shares some of his favorite licks in this lesson.

Length: 22:35 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 103

More Fun Licks

Hawkeye teaches more fun licks to add to your blues bag of tricks.

Length: 31:20 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 104

More Licks Up the Neck

Hawkeye Herman is back with some more classic blues licks that span the length of the fretboard.

Length: 26:20 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 105

Bass Licks

Hawkeye explains the importance of playing licks over the entire neck of the guitar.

Length: 21:33 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 106

Rock Me Lick

Hawkeye Herman shares a lick that is commonly known as the "Rock Me Baby" Lick. He explains how this lick can be incorporated into a performance of this classic B.B. King song.

Length: 19:09 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 107

Turnaround Positions

Hawkeye discusses how ideas derived from turnarounds can be incorporated into blues solos.

Length: 8:19 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 108

Instrumental Themes

Hawkeye Herman talks about instrumental themes and how you can add lead fills to them.

Length: 18:03 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 109

Instrumental Themes Continued

Hawkeye continues his discussion on instrumental themes and blues.

Length: 23:42 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 110

Ninth Chords

Hawkeye Herman explains how dominant 9th chords are formed and how they can be used in blues music.

Length: 15:16 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 111

Ninth Chords Continued

Hawkeye Herman continues his discussion on 9th chords.

Length: 26:52 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 112

More Eight Bar Blues

Hawkeye Herman shares more eight bar blues knowledge in this fun and information-packed lesson.

Length: 23:57 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 113

Using a Tuner

Hawkeye shares his thoughts on tuners in this lesson.

Length: 6:38 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 114

Introducing the Capo

In the 114th installment of his Blues Series, Hawkeye introduces the capo. He demonstrates how this valuable tool allows you to transpose chord voicings to various keys.

Length: 23:21 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 115

Forming Barre Chords

Having trouble getting those fingers to form barre chords? In lesson #115 of his Blues Series, Hawkeye covers some tips and techniques to help with these problematic chord shapes. Any beginner can master...

Length: 10:03 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 116

4 Up, 5 Down Applied Concept

Hawkeye explains why the adjacent strings on the guitar are tuned in perfect fourths and how this relates to left hand fingering.

Length: 18:44 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 117

Relative Chord Shapes

Hawkeye continues where he left off in lesson 116 and explains how the tuning of the guitar relates to commonly used chord shapes.

Length: 16:43 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 118

Transposing Notes / Changing the Key

Hawkeye Herman reviews important transposition concepts. Here he demonstrates how to change the key of a song so that it is appropriate for your vocal range.

Length: 20:31 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 119

All About Finger Picking

Hawkeye takes a look at this important right hand technique.

Length: 20:54 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 120

Bo Diddley Beat

Hawkeye provides a history lesson on Bo Diddley. He also demonstrates how to play the classic "Bo Diddley Beat." This rhythmic pattern appears in countless blues and rock songs.

Length: 20:15 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 121

Thematic Bass Lines

Hawkeye teaches some blues bass lines that can be applied to the twelve bar blues form.

Length: 19:04 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 122

Bass Lines Continued

Hawkeye continues on from his 121st lesson with more examples of blues bass lines for guitar.

Length: 7:14 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 123

Lead Bass Ideas

Hawkeye dives into some lead bass ideas. He demonstrates how a classic Eric Clapton riff can be used over the twelve bar blues form in any key.

Length: 12:57 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 124

Willie's Bounce

Hawkeye teaches the bass line riff to his song "Willie's Bounce."

Length: 16:31 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 125

Finger Picking Part 2

Hawkeye continues his discussion on finger picking.

Length: 12:27 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 126

The Texas A

Hawkeye Herman teaches a version of the A chord that he calls "The Texas A."

Length: 13:59 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 127

Blues Scale: Adding the Major 3rd

Hawkeye breaks down the blues scale and demonstrates how to appropriately add the major 3rd.

Length: 26:16 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 128

Double Stops

As demonstrated in previous lessons, Hawkeye opens up the world of double stops. Hawkeye teaches some classic Chuck Berry licks to demonstrate how double stops can be used effectively.

Length: 11:53 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 129

Scrapper Blackwell

Hawkeye introduces the guitar stye of Scrapper Blackwell. He uses the song Scrapper called "E Blues" as a starting point.

Length: 20:46 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 130

Influence of Blind Lemon Jefferson

History flows deep in blues music. Hawkeye discusses the influence of Blind Lemon Jefferson. This lesson is one for the history books.

Length: 22:43 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 131

Humming and Strumming

Hawkeye opens up some ideas on how to "plan ahead" in your playing. Similar to riding a bike, you need to look forward to see where your going. Humming what you want to play allows you to anticipate the...

Length: 18:49 Difficulty: 4.0 Members Only
Lesson 132

Katrina, Oh Katrina

Inspired by the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina, Hawkeye was commissioned by the BBC to write a song about Katrina. Hawkeye demonstrates this song and recalls his thought process in writing this song.

Length: 29:53 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 133

All About the Hammer-on

Hawkeye demonstrates how a hammer-on can be used to open up doors in your playing. Hawkeye shows you how to achieve this technique and use it successfully in your playing.

Length: 24:07 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 134

The Pull-off

Hawkeye covers the pull-off, best friend of the hammer on. This technique is used to achieve the same goal as the hammer-on, yet with a completely different finger movement.

Length: 15:02 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 135

Using Hammer-ons and Pull-offs Together

Hawkeye combines lessons 133 and 134 and demonstrates some examples of how to utilize the hammer-on and pull-off techniques together to enhance your overall blues guitar skills.

Length: 10:27 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
Lesson 136

The Quick Change

The 12 bar form is a staple in the world of blues music. However, there are plenty of different ways to arrange it. This lesson covers what is commonly called "The Quick Change."

Length: 15:15 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 137

Starting on the IV Chord

Hawkeye demonstrates how to change up a traditional 12 bar blues progression by starting on the IV chord.

Length: 16:51 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 138

The Talking Blues

Hawkeye demonstrates yet another form of blues known as the "Talking Blues." This style is indicative of its name. It features a talking vocal style played over a I, IV, V chord progression.

Length: 24:43 Difficulty: 4.0 Members Only
Lesson 139

Utilizing 9th Chords

Need a slightly different voicing to spice up your playing? 9th chords will give your blues playing a colorful, urban sound.

Length: 24:53 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
Lesson 140

Minor Tuning, Major Sound

Hawkeye breaks out his slide and demonstrates how chord progressions in major keys can be played in open minor tunings.

Length: 4:43 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 141

Style of Elmore James

Hawkeye offers up some tricks and techniques that Elmore James utilized in his style of playing.

Length: 25:52 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
Lesson 142

Style of Son House

In lesson 142, Hawkeye dives into the style of Son House. House pioneered an innovative style featuring strong, repetitive rhythms often played with a slide.

Length: 14:32 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only

About Hawkeye Herman View Full Biography ""One of America's finest acoustic guitarists and blues educators."
Cascade Blues Association

"Herman plays with a sensitive, reflective touch that continually draws attention to his vocals, which are effectively understated and free of affectation... Herman can rock with the best of them. A solid choice for fans of traditional acoustic blues."
Living Blues Magazine

" ...plays haunting music on a mournful guitar."
Los Angeles Times

"The only thing better than hearing this live album is seeing Hawkeye Herman in the flesh. Whether adding his own spin to blues classics or offering his own songs, Herman is a one-man history of blues, noteworthy guitar player and inimitable communicator. Miss him at your peril."
Blues Access

With over 40 years of performing experience, Michael "Hawkeye" Herman personifies the range of possibilities in blues and folk music. His dynamic blues guitar playing and vocal abilities have won him a faithful following and he leads a very active touring schedule of performances at festivals, concerts, school programs and educational workshops throughout the U.S., Canada, and Europe. His original music has been included in video dramas and documentaries and in four hit theatrical productions.

In 2000, Hawkeye was awarded Philadelphia's Barrymore Award for Excellence in Theatre for best original music in a theatrical production. "Everyday Living," Hawkeye's first nationally released album from 1987, now reissued on CD, features the late blues giants Charles Brown and "Cool Papa" Sadler, and established the demand for his now long-standing festival and concert touring. His latest CDs and DVD, "Blues Alive!" (CD), "It's All Blues To Me" (CD), and "Hawkeye Live In Concert" (DVD) have been greeted with rave reviews. Hawkeye's journalistic efforts have been published in numerous national and regional blues and music-related periodicals.

In 1998 he was the recipient of the Blues Foundation's "Keeping The Blues Alive" award for achievement in education. He served on the Board of Directors of the Blues Foundation for six years. Hawkeye was inducted into the Iowa Blues Hall of fame in 2004. In September of 2005, Hawkeye composed, at the request of the British Broadcasting Company (BBC), "Katrina, Oh Katrina (Hurricane Blues)," detailing the hurricane disaster on the Gulf Coast. The song was aired to over 7 million listeners on the popular "BBC Today" program. He is the cofounder of the Rogue Valley Blues Festival, Ashland, OR.

This musician has definitely carved out a spot for himself in the contemporary acoustic blues/folk field, and has earned a reputation as one of the most accomplished artists in the genre, and audiences throughout the US/Canada/Europe have come to know and appreciate Hawkeye's talent, dedication, and captivating performances.

Acoustic Guitar Lessons

Our acoustic guitar lessons are taught by qualified instructors with various backgrounds with the instrument.


Kaki King Kaki King

In lesson 6, Kaki discusses how the left and right hands can work together or independently of each other to create different...

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Robbie Merrill Robbie Merrill

JamPlay welcomes bassist and founding member of Godsmack, Robbie Merrill. In this short introduction lesson, Robbie showcases...

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Steve Eulberg Steve Eulberg

Steve Eulberg does a quick review of this lesson series and talks about moving on.

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Peter Einhorn Peter Einhorn

JamPlay is proud to introduce jazz guitarist Peter Einhorn. In this lesson series, Peter will discuss and demonstrate a way...

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Hawkeye Herman Hawkeye Herman

Hawkeye teaches several Robert Johnson licks in this lesson. These licks are played with a slide in open G tuning.

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David Isaacs David Isaacs

JamPlay welcomes David Isaacs to our teacher roster. With his first lesson Dave explains his approach to playing guitar with...

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Freebo Freebo

In this lesson, Freebo covers the basics of right hand technique. This lesson is essential for all up and coming bassists.

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Orville Johnson Orville Johnson

Orville Johnson introduces turnarounds and provides great ideas and techniques.

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Justin Roth Justin Roth

In this lesson Justin introduces his series on playing with a capo and dishes out some basic tips, including how to properly...

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Eve Goldberg Eve Goldberg

Eve talks about the boom-chuck strum pattern. This strum pattern will completely change the sound of your playing.

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Our electric guitar lessons are taught by instructors with an incredible amount of teaching experience.


James Malone James Malone

James explains how to tap arpeggios for extended musical reach.

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Stuart Ziff Stuart Ziff

Stuart delves into all the different aspects of how R&B guitar has had an impact within reggae music.

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Danny Morris Danny Morris

Hone in on your right hand and focus on getting in the groove. You'll only play one note during this lesson, but it'll be...

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Lisa Pursell Lisa Pursell

Lisa breaks into the very basics of the electric guitar. She starts by explaining the parts of the guitar. Then, she dives...

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Rex Brown Rex Brown

Dive into the playing of Rex Brown. As the bass player for Pantera, Down, and Kill Devil Hill, Brown's real world experience...

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Andy James Andy James

Get an in-depth look into the mind of virtuoso guitarist Andy James. Learn about Andy's early beginnings all the way up to...

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Brendan Burns Brendan Burns

Brendan demonstrates the tiny triad shapes derived from the form 1 barre chord.

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Larry Cook Larry Cook

In this lesson, Larry discusses and demonstrates how to tune your bass. He explains why tuning is critical and discusses...

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Paul Musso Paul Musso

JamPlay is proud to welcome senior professor and Coordinator of Guitar Studies at the University of Colorado at Denver,...

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Dave Weiner Dave Weiner

Dave "David J" Weiner returns with a lesson on how to play with style and attitude. He covers all the basic techniques you'll...

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