Bluegrass Flatpicking

Genre and Style Guitar Course from Orville Johnson

A sub-genre of country music which blends improvising with folk-like melodies. Pioneered by Bill Monroe in the 1930s in the "bluegrass" state. Learning to flatpick properly is absolutely crucial to the Bluegrass style.

40 Lessons

Complete course with step-by-step lessons and practice examples.

Multi-Camera

Course filmed with 6 cameras for the perfect angles.

94% Appoval

194 of 200 of our members have given this their approval.

Tabs & Info

Download tabs, helpers, JamTracks and docs included with lessons.

Included

Access this course, along with all other courses with Membership.

Full Course Breakdown

Orville will cover proper Bluegrass flatpicking technique and move on to teach a plethora of classic Bluegrass tunes.

Begin the Course
1

Alternate Picking

Orville Johnson starts out his Bluegrass Flatpicking Series with a lesson on alternate picking, a technique that is absolutely essential to almost all guitar styles.

25:21 Runtime

1.0 Difficulty

View this Lesson
2

John Hardy

Orville teaches a classic song called "John Hardy" in the style of Mother Maybelle Carter.

15:54 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty

3

Bill Cheatum

Orville teaches the classic song "Bill Cheatum" in the bluegrass flatpicking style.

23:20 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty

4

Blackberry Blossom

Orville Johnson explains how to play the classic song "Blackberry Blossom" in the bluegrass flatpicking style.

26:00 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty

5

Whiskey Before Breakfast

Orville Johnson shows how the classic bluegrass fiddle tune "Whiskey Before Breakfast" can be adapted to the guitar.

24:05 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty

6

Billy in the Lowground

Orville Johnson teaches how "Billy in the Lowground," a classic fiddle tune, can be adapted to bluegrass style guitar.

20:40 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty

7

Salt Creek

Orville Johnson teaches the classic bluegrass song "Salt Creek."

19:56 Runtime

2.0 Difficulty

8

Midnight on the Water

Orville Johnson teaches the classic buegrass song "Midnight on the Water."

39:42 Runtime

2.0 Difficulty

9

The Wayfaring Stranger

Orville Johnson teaches a solo guitar version of the classic song "The Wayfaring Stranger."

21:12 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty

10

The Eighth of January

Orville Johnson demonstrates the classic bluegrass song "The Eighth of January."

20:32 Runtime

3.0 Difficulty

11

Over the Waterfall

Orville Johnson teaches "Over the Waterfall."

21:40 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty

12

Lester Flatt G Lick

Orville Johnson demonstrates one of the most widely used bluegrass licks. This lick is named after "Lester Flatt" and simply called the "Lester Flatt G Lick."

15:14 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty

13

June Apple

Orville Johnson explains how to play the classic song "June Apple."

21:27 Runtime

2.0 Difficulty

14

Soldier's Joy

Orville Johnson teaches a bluegrass guitar version of the classic song "Soldier's Joy."

13:22 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty

15

The Arkansas Traveler

Orville Johnson teaches the "The Arkansas Traveler" in the key of D.

26:06 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty

16

I Don't Love Nobody

Orville Johnson teaches his version of "I Don't Love Nobody."

19:14 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty

17

Old Joe Clark

Orville Johnson covers the classic tune "Old Joe Clark."

19:27 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty

18

The Red-Haired Boy

Orville Johnson continues building your bluegrass fiddle tune repertoire with another great song called "The Red-Haired Boy."

27:49 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty

19

Black Mountain Rag: Key of E

Orville Johnson teaches "Black Mountain Rag" in the key of E.

26:25 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty

20

Black Mountain Rag: Key of A

In continuation of his previous lesson, Orville Johnson teaches "Black Mountain Rag" in the key of A.

23:31 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty

21

St. Anne's Reel

Orville Johnson takes a look at the bluegrass standard "St. Anne's Reel".

20:43 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty

22

Glory in the Meeting House

In this lesson, Orville Johnson teaches a fantastic new tune called "Glory in the Meeting House".

19:00 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty

23

Under the Double Eagle

In his latest Flatpicking Bluegrass lesson, Orville Johnson teaches a tune called "Under the Double Eagle".

31:50 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty

24

Crossing The Big Sandy River

Orville Johnson continues building your bluegrass flatpicking repertoire with another great tune called "Crossing The Big Sandy River".

11:00 Runtime

2.0 Difficulty

25

When He Calls Me

Orville Johnson teaches another great bluegrass flatpicking tune called "When He Calls Me".

12:45 Runtime

2.0 Difficulty

26

Ragtime Annie

Orville Johnson teaches "Ragtime Annie," another bluegrass tune to add to your repertoire.

15:13 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty

27

Bonaparte's Retreat

Orville Johnson continues to build your bluegrass fiddle tune repertoire with a fun tune called "Bonaparte's Retreat".

20:13 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty

28

Reuben's Train

Orville Johnson takes a look at another fiddle tune called "Reuben's Train" in this lesson.

13:57 Runtime

2.0 Difficulty

29

Turkey in the Straw

Orville Johnson takes a look at a fun song called "Turkey in the Straw" in this lesson.

9:54 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty

30

Flatpicking Exercise: The Mirror Technique

In this lesson, Orville introduces an exercise called "The Mirror Technique." This is a technique that will improve the communication between your picking hand and fretting hand.

21:09 Runtime

1.5 Difficulty

31

Flatpicking Exercise: Double & Triple Picking

Welcome to yet another lesson on picking exercises! Orville demonstrates how to achieve double picking and triplet picking techniques that are common in all musical styles.

23:25 Runtime

2.0 Difficulty

32

The Devil's Dream

This traditional song offers the standard A and B parts and is another essential song to add to your repertoire of tunes that can be played with friends.

18:15 Runtime

2.0 Difficulty

33

Blues Swing Lead Techniques

Orville teaches a blues melody in G major and also explains how to "comp" or accompany/compliment the melody with the Freddie Green rhythm.

19:54 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty

34

Blues Lead Techniques #2

Orville reopens the subject of lead techniques. He presents ideas on how to successfully build a solo and understand how to leave space to be most effective when playing with others.

14:33 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty

35

Blues Lead Techniques #3

Time to design a solo! Orville breaks down the techniques needed to build a successful solo while both explaining space and scale theory.

19:49 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty

36

Blues Lead Techniques #4

This lesson is all about harmonic structure. Orville uses the theory taught in the previous lesson to help you choose the correct notes when building a solo.

23:03 Runtime

3.0 Difficulty

37

Bully of the Town

How about another classic bluegrass tune? "Bully of the Town" offers up a chance to use a capo and apply key change techniques.

25:23 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty

38

The Beaumont Rag

Orville Johnson is back to his bluegrass flatpicking series. In this lesson, he discusses and teaches "The Beaumont Rag". This tune serves as a great picking exercise and is also a ton of fun to play!

23:28 Runtime

2.0 Difficulty

39

Cherokee Shuffle

Orville Johnson shows how to play a classic Bluegrass tune entitled "Cherokee Shuffle." It's fun, slightly challenging and sounds great.

35:05 Runtime

3.0 Difficulty

40

Banks of the Ohio

Orville Johnson travels back in time to teach a classic song called "Banks of the Ohio." Though this tune features a rather sordid narrative lyrically, the music is still quick, upbeat and fun to play.

42:50 Runtime

3.0 Difficulty

Let's Start. Together.

Setup your account and explore our courses, teaching tools and resources.

Get Started
  • Seattle, Washington
  • Playing since 1970
  • 128 lessons at JamPlay
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.
Reviews & Feedback 94/100 with 200 ratings
rwubusisi

The material is well prepared and presented

CarolK

All of the above. Thanks!

BethG

Thanks especially for all the suggestions in scene 5. You're very good in your lessons at pointing out helpful hints that may seem obvious to a seasoned player but not at all to a beginner.

1geo

Good teacher.

bumblebee2

Useful exercise

Kirkhaselden

Great lesson and enjoyable/humorous ta boot. Thanks!

drewsouthern

great song

GuitarDudeness

Great song explained clearly.

popcorn

He did a great job and opened some Key of D notes for me.

jdub420420

i like the teacher, he is easy to understand and it is just what i needed to bring my guitar back to life.

martintrini

I look forward to returning

Ironman65

I really liked the teacher in the way he simplified the song and was detailed. A very good lesson.

Hunter15

I really love the teacher and how he explains each individual phrase! This is exactly what I needed!

chendricksmusic

I thought the lesson was very straightforward. I did like the teacher very much as well. He came across as a real instructor, something many good players cannot do. The arrangement was simplistic, and very good for many beginning and intermedia

Gwenatgatematestreehouse

Im so releived! Ive finally found a style and teacher that agree with me! I love how I can see what he's doing and how he walks me through the song string by string. Thank you sooo much!

danofdans201772

Nicely done - my first complete lesson on Jamplay - very good.

GreenwoodWillow

Orville is a good teacher, no question about it...

mickoz

Orville was great at the recent Reso Summit in Nashville and it would be good if you expanded your lessons to include Lap Steel and Dobro by Orville.

BNevils

Such a great guitarist, teacher and communicator.

dbishop

thanks. always enjoyed this tune.

seldom

This has been a family favorite. Sounded the way my Aunt and Uncle played it on piano. They would bounce off the bench 6" when they played it.

Martypicker

This will be fun!

Tcybarra

We're going to get along just fine

tempest

Yep all is good, easy to understand and do enjoy my time with jamplay