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How Long, How Long Blues (Guitar Lesson)


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Orville Johnson

How Long, How Long Blues

Orville teaches the a fingerstyle version of the classic blues number "How Long, How Long."

Taught by Orville Johnson in Fingerstyle Blues seriesLength: 23:31Difficulty: 2.5 of 5


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.


nuke-dukemnuke-dukem replied on November 24th, 2014

Good explanation about alternating the shuffle rhythm between thumb and fingers. Thanks.

cwilcoxcwilcox replied on July 22nd, 2012

Usually Orville goes into great detail on how to play each lick. I love this song and wish he would decostruct it for those of us who need his patient guidance to break it down in more detail for us.

revcarevca replied on October 9th, 2011

Love the song and Orville's interpretation and I'm finding it not too difficult to play. Sure would like some help on how to fit in the lyrics with the guitar.

kathykathy replied on August 12th, 2011

Still will appreciate the tab. Thanks!

jboothjbooth replied on August 9th, 2011

Just FYI tab will be coming shortly!

BarryNZBarryNZ replied on August 10th, 2011

You da man Jeff

BarryNZBarryNZ replied on August 6th, 2011

Fantastic Orville. I have had a bit of a lull in enthusiasm lately but this has revved me up again!!

jkrivisjkrivis replied on August 6th, 2011

as usual, well done!

Fingerstyle Blues

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

Alternating Bass

In this lesson, Orville introduces one of the basic fingerstyle techniques - the alternating bass technique.

Length: 14:49 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 2

Winin' Boy Blues

Orville Johnson teaches his interpretation of the piano-based song "Winin' Boy Blues" by Jelly Roll Morton.

Length: 29:33 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 3

Blues Turnarounds

Orville Johnson introduces turnarounds and provides great ideas and techniques.

Length: 16:30 Difficulty: 2.5 FREE
Lesson 4

Payday Blues

Orville Johnson teaches the fingerstyle blues song "Payday Blues."

Length: 19:04 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 5

Walking Bassline with Chords

Orville Johnson demonstrates how to play a walking bass line in conjunction with chordal accompaniment.

Length: 18:33 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 6

One Dime Blues

Orville Johnson teaches his take on a blues standard entitled "One Dime Blues."

Length: 13:46 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 7

I'll Fly Away - Piedmont Style

Orville Johnson teaches the classic gospel tune "I'll Fly Away" in the Piedmont style.

Length: 18:40 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 8

Beulah Land

Orville Johnson teaches the classic gospel song "Beulah Land."

Length: 12:40 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 9

Make Me a Pallet on the Floor

Orville Johnson teaches "Make Me a Pallet on the Floor" in the Piedmont style.

Length: 17:58 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 10

How Long, How Long Blues

Orville teaches the a fingerstyle version of the classic blues number "How Long, How Long."

Length: 23:31 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 11

Common Blues Melody

Orville Johnson teaches a common blues melody that has been used in several classic songs including "Louis Collins."

Length: 15:09 Difficulty: 0.0 Members Only
Lesson 12

St. Johnny

Orville Johnson reviews an original tune he calls "St. Johnny" in this lesson.

Length: 44:09 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 13

Blind Blake Style

In this lesson, Orville Johnson takes a look at the style of Blind Blake with some fun tips and tricks.

Length: 12:50 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 14

Chord Substitutions: Major

In this Fingerstyle Blues lesson, Orville Johnson uses the 12 bar blues in C to talk about chord substitutions.

Length: 35:34 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 15

Softly and Tenderly, Jesus Is Calling

To demonstrate the relationship between gospel and blues, Orville Johnson teaches an arrangement of an old gospel tune called "Softly and Tenderly, Jesus Is Calling".

Length: 20:22 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 16

Chord Substitutions: Minor

Orville Johnson is back with another fantastic lesson on chord substitutions, this time in a minor key.

Length: 19:03 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 17

Mississippi John Hurt Style

Orville Johnson demonstrates Mississippi John Hurt's style using an old spiritual song called "When the Roll Is Called Up Yonder".

Length: 10:18 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 18

Skip James Style Part 1

Orville Johnson explores the style of Skip James in open G tuning.

Length: 19:28 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 19

Skip James Style Part 2

Orville Johnson takes another look at the style of Skip James, this time in cross-note (D Minor) tuning.

Length: 25:08 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 20

Bo Carter Style

Orville Johnson takes a look at the style of blues artist Bo Carter in this lesson.

Length: 15:35 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 21

Jelly Jelly

Orville Johnson walks through "Jelly Jelly," an original piano blues style song.

Length: 22:14 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 22

Travis Picking Pt. 1

Welcome to part one of a two part lesson bundle where Orville breaks down Travis Picking, a fingerstyle pattern made famous by the great Merle Travis.

Length: 21:51 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 23

Travis Picking Pt. 2

This is part two in Orville's Travis Picking demonstration. Orville now teaches how to increase speed with the picking hand. Then, he explains how to improve synchronization between the picking and fretting...

Length: 23:10 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 24

Scrapper Blackwell Part 1

Welcome to part one of a two part mini series on the great guitarist known as Scrapper Blackwell! Orville tackles the unique techniques Scrapper utilized.

Length: 28:15 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 25

Scrapper Blackwell Part 2

Now that Orville has introduced Scrapper's style, he covers some more difficult techniques that he used.

Length: 17:56 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 26

Mississippi John Hurt Style 2

Orville Johnson delves into the style of Mississippi once more. This time around he takes a look at a song that is inspired by "Frankie and Albert".

Length: 16:17 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 27

The Style of Elizabeth Cotten Part 1

Orville talks all about the style of Elizabeth Cotten, an acoustic fingerpicking legend. He uses a song called "I'm Going Downtown" to showcase her way of playing.

Length: 38:01 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 28

The Style of Elizabeth Cotten Part 2

Orville dives back into the world of Elizabeth Cotten. This time around he teaches a newsong called "Sugar" and introduces other common musical themes she was known for.

Length: 18:20 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 29

Heavy-Time Bass

Orville Johnson likes to use a technique called "Heavy-time bass" when playing the bass notes on his guitar. In this lesson he teaches you how adding this trick to your arsenal can make you a more versatile...

Length: 25:29 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only

About Orville Johnson View Full Biography Orville Johnson was born in 1953 in Edwardsville, Illinois and came up on the St. Louis, Missouri music scene, where he was exposed to and participated in a variety of blues, bluegrass and American roots music. He began singing in his Pentecostal church as a young boy, in rock bands in middle school, then took up the guitar at 17,with early influences from Doc Watson, Rev. Gary Davis, Mississippi John Hurt, and Chuck Berry. In the early 1970's, Orville spent several seasons playing bluegrass on the SS Julia Belle Swain, a period-piece Mississippi river steamboat plying the inland waterways, with his group the Steamboat Ramblers.

Orville moved to Seattle, Washington in 1978, where he was a founding member of the much-loved and well-remembered folk/rock group, the Dynamic Logs. Other musical associates include Laura Love, Ranch Romance, File' Gumbo Zydeco Band, Scott Law, and the Twirling Mickeys. Johnson, known for his dobro and slide guitar stylings and vocal acrobatics, has played on over 100 albums. He has appeared on Garrison Keilor's Prairie Home Companion, Jay Leno's Tonight Show and was featured in the 1997 film Georgia with Mare Winningham. His musical expertise can also be heard on the Microsoft CD-ROMs, Musical Instruments of the World and the Complete Encyclopedia of Baseball. He teaches as well at the International Guitar Seminar, Pt. Townsend Country Blues Week and Puget Sound Guitar Workshop.

Orville released 4 recordings in the 1990's: The World According to Orville (1990) Blueprint for the Blues (1998) Slide & Joy (1999) an all-instrumental dobro tour de force and Kings of Mongrel Folk (1997) with Mark Graham. He also appeared on 4 discs with the File' Gumbo Zydeco Band and produced Whose World Is This (1997) for Jim Page and Inner Life (1999) for Mark Graham. In the 21st century, he has released Freehand, a new Kings of Mongrel Folk disc, Still Goin' Strong, and been featured in the soundtracks of PBS' Frontier House and the Peter Fonda flick The Wooly Boys as well as the compilation cd Legends of the Incredible Lap Steel Guitar.

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