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Take Guitar Lessons from Don Ross

Don is a Guitar instructor at JamPlay.com

Don Ross has 66 guitar lessons and videos at JamPlay, with 66 intermediate lessons. Use the tabs below to learn more.

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Fingerstyle

Don Ross, an award-winning, Billboard-topping fingerstyle artist, will teach you everything you need to know to get started in fingerstyle guitar.

Lesson 1

Don Ross Series Introduction

New fingerstyle instructor Don Ross introduces himself, his background, and what you should...

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Lesson 2

Playing Style

Don Ross talks about the way he plays and how he got started in his particular style....

Length: 14:09
Lesson 3

Finger Assignments

Don Ross takes some time to talk about where he places each right hand finger while playing...

Length: 9:10
Lesson 4

Travis Picking

Don Ross talks about fingerpicking patterns with a focus on Travis Picking. He explains...

Length: 22:55
Lesson 5

Travis Picking Part...

Don Ross dives into Travis Picking once more. This time, he specifically focuses on patterns...

Length: 14:10
Lesson 6

Travis Picking Part...

This time, Don Ross demonstrates Travis patterns with chords that have a root note on...

Length: 9:21
Lesson 7

Thumb and Brush

Having thoroughly explored Travis picking, Don Ross now takes some time to talk about...

Length: 12:27
Lesson 8

Altered Vs. Open Tunings:...

Don Ross takes a couple lessons to talk about altered tunings and open tunings. In this...

Length: 8:05
Lesson 9

Altered Vs. Open Tunings:...

Don Ross now discusses open tunings. Open tunings get their name because the open strings...

Length: 18:40
Lesson 10

Open G Tuning

Don Ross talks more about open G tuning and how to make it more applicable to your playing...

Length: 13:46
Lesson 11

Open D Tuning

Don Ross talks about open D tuning, how it's similar to open C tuning, and how you can...

Length: 17:44
Lesson 12

Open C Tuning

In this lesson, Don Ross explains open C tuning. As with the G and D tuning lessons, he...

Length: 26:48
Lesson 13

DADGAD Tuning

Don Ross looks at DADGAD tuning in this lesson. He explores different ways to play, how...

Length: 17:56
Lesson 14

Harmonic DADGAD

Don Ross takes another look at DADGAD and how you can play harmonically in this tuning.

Length: 11:19
Lesson 15

DADGAD and Travis Picking

Don Ross continues his discussion on DADGAD tuning and brings it all together with Travis...

Length: 10:58
Lesson 16

DADGAD Chord Voicings

Don Ross takes a final look at DADGAD tuning in this lesson. This time, he explores some...

Length: 10:41
Lesson 17

CGCGAD Tuning

Don Ross takes a look at a unique and beautiful tuning, CDCGAD, or in Don's words, the...

Length: 14:35
Lesson 18

Brooke's Waltz Part...

Don Ross takes a look at the first part of his original song "Brooke's Waltz". This song...

Length: 17:44
Lesson 19

Brooke's Waltz Part...

Don Ross moves on and covers the second portion of his original song "Brooke's Waltz".

Length: 12:05
Lesson 20

Brooke's Waltz Part...

Don Ross finishes up the trio of lesson on his song "Brooke's Waltz". This time around...

Length: 15:43
Lesson 21

Extending Harmony

In this lesson, Don talks about how you can use simple music theory to add colorful extensions...

Length: 18:41
Lesson 22

Upright & Locked Position...

Don Ross delves into one of his sweeter melodies - "Upright & Locked Position". In this...

Length: 18:22
Lesson 23

Upright & Locked Position...

Don Ross teaches the B section of his song "Upright & Locked Position".

Length: 8:49
Lesson 24

Upright & Locked Position...

Don Ross returns to his song "Upright & Locked Position" and teaches the C part. He then...

Length: 18:39
Lesson 25

Harmonics Part 1

Harmonics sound awesome, and no player's arsenal is complete without this versatile technique....

Length: 13:19
Lesson 26

Slap and Brush Harmonics

Don Ross talks about "slap" harmonics and "brush" harmonics and how they can be used.

Length: 8:36
Lesson 27

The Ripple Effect

Don Ross teaches a harmonic technique he calls the "ripple effect". This technique was...

Length: 11:43
Lesson 28

The Ripple Effect Part...

Don Ross builds on lesson 28 by discussing more ways in which the "ripple effect" can...

Length: 9:04
Fingerstyle

This series is all about fostering the ability for your fingers to play independent of each other. Mastering this skill will give your playing a living, organic feel and open up previously unimaginable doors. During this process you will also learn two of Don Ross' songs, both perfect for showing off to your family.

Lesson 1

Introduction to the...

Don Ross introduces the series, and talks about exactly what you will learn. He also demonstrates...

Length: 6:25
Lesson 2

Breaking out of Typical...

In this lesson Don Ross introduces the concept of polyrhythms, or playing two different...

Length: 7:07
Lesson 3

Polyrhythmic Picking...

Don Ross introduces a 3 against 2 polyrhythm. He starts off by demonstrating how to get...

Length: 14:40
Lesson 4

Playing 3 Against 2...

It's time to take the 3 against 2 polyrhtyhm one step further. In the previous lesson...

Length: 8:34
Lesson 5

Playing 3 Against 2...

Don Ross ups the complexity of the 3 against 2 polyrhythm he has been teaching. The fun...

Length: 6:11
Lesson 6

Playing 3 Against 2...

These polyrhythm exercises are really starting to get interesting. Don complicates the...

Length: 11:31
Lesson 7

Polyrhythmic Picking...

It's time to graduate to a new polyrythmic pattern: 4 against 3. Think of this as 3 against...

Length: 18:21
Lesson 8

4 Against 3 Part 2

It's practice time! Get your guitar out and follow along to learn how to apply the 4 against...

Length: 5:08
Lesson 9

4 Against 3 Part 3

Don once again returns to the mesmerizing world of 4 against 3 polyrhythms. This time...

Length: 7:18
Lesson 10

4 Against 3 Part 4

Head up! We are almost there! This is the last exercise in the 4 against 3 polyrhythm...

Length: 14:25
Lesson 11

Using Polyrhythms in...

In this quick yet powerful lesson, Don demonstrates how polyrhythm can be used in musical...

Length: 13:29
Lesson 12

Stop Driving, Start...

Now that you have a basic understanding of polyrhythm, it's time to move on to a song....

Length: 18:27
Lesson 13

Stop Driving, Start...

Don Ross teaches the first 8 bars of his original song "Stop Driving, Start Playing."

Length: 22:35
Lesson 14

Stop Driving, Start...

Don Ross teaches the second 8 bars of his song "Stop Driving, Start Playing."

Length: 32:18
Lesson 15

Stop Driving, Start...

Don Ross moves on and starts teaching the B section of his hit song, "Stop Driving, Start...

Length: 14:18
Lesson 16

Stop Driving, Start...

Don Ross moves on and teaches the rest of the B section of his song "Stop Driving, Start...

Length: 22:10
Lesson 17

Understanding the Relative...

In this lesson Don Ross talks about the concept of relative major and relative minor....

Length: 14:21
Lesson 18

Using the Relative Keys...

In this lesson Don Ross takes the concept of the relative minor and major keys and demonstrates...

Length: 11:29
Lesson 19

Relative Minor and Major...

Don will discuss how the relative minor and major keys can be used with alternate tunings....

Length: 10:01
Lesson 20

Reviewing the Ripple...

Don Ross reviews the ultra-cool technique commonly known as "The Ripple Effect." This...

Length: 8:47
Lesson 21

Cup of Pop Tunings:...

It's time to start learning the song "Cup of Pop," as it is an excellent way to reinforce...

Length: 10:12
Lesson 22

The Ripple Effect in...

Before we can learn the song "Cup of Pop" we need to make sure we can play "The Ripple...

Length: 3:05
Lesson 23

Ripple and Tap Technique

"The Ripple Effect" is insanely cool on it's own, but insanely cool isn't good enough...

Length: 8:14
Lesson 24

Ripple and Tap in Double-time

Don Ross takes the "Ripple and Tap" technique from the last lesson and demonstrates how...

Length: 4:31
Lesson 25

Cup of Pop A Section

Don Ross teaches the first section of his hit tune, "Cup of Pop." Limber up your hands,...

Length: 44:03
Lesson 26

Cup of Pop B Section

Don Ross launches into the B section of his illustrious and highly difficult song, "Cup...

Length: 18:58
Lesson 27

Cup of Pop C Section...

In this lesson Don Ross takes a look at one of the signature moments from "Cup of Pop,"...

Length: 9:07
Lesson 28

Cup of Pop D Section

Don Ross returns to the song "Cup of Pop" to teach the venerated D section. This comes...

Length: 7:31
Lesson 29

Cup of Pop E Section...

It's time to return to the original tuning for the song. Don discusses the E section in...

Length: 5:57
Lesson 30

Cup of Pop Ending

"All good things must end" may sound rather cliche, yet at the end of this fabulous song...

Length: 10:52
Ear Training

Your ears can be one of your most valuable assets as a musician. In this series, Don is going to show you how to translate what you hear into what you play. This series is designed to build your confidence and equip you with the valuable skill of playing music by ear.

Lesson 1

Series Introduction

Don gives an overview of what to expect from this series.

Length: 4:20
Lesson 2

The Sound of the Major...

Utilizing the visual element of a piano keyboard, and your ears (of course), Don walks...

Length: 12:09
Lesson 3

Semitones and Whole...

As we begin to look at intervals, we start with the smallest classified interval, as semitone,...

Length: 18:52
Lesson 4

The 4th & 5th Intervals

Don continues to explore the concept of intervals, now looking at the 4th and 5th scale...

Length: 16:46
Lesson 5

The 6th & 7th Intervals

In this lesson, we're going to look at the last two intervals in a Major Scale, the 6th...

Length: 15:06
Lesson 6

Memorizing Intervals

In this lesson, Don teaches some helpful tools for memorizing the sound of the intervals.

Length: 11:06
Lesson 7

The Building Blocks...

Join Don as he breaks down the intervals that go into making a major or minor triad.

Length: 24:42
Lesson 8

Recognizing Major and...

In this lesson, Don works on the skill of hearing the difference between a Major and Minor...

Length: 14:27
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Learn more About Don Ross

Don Ross began playing guitar virtually by accident.

There was always a lot of music around the house. Don’s dad is an operatically-trained singer. So, the Ross kids heard plenty of voice exercises around their Montreal home as well as classical music on the record player growing up (not to mention the occasional blast of the bagpipes when Don’s dad felt like waking up the neighbors with another musical skill he acquired growing up in Scotland!). Don was a very musical child, teaching himself some basic piano skills in his early years. But at the age of eight, when Don’s sister came home from boarding school with an old Stella acoustic guitar, he knew he had met his new best friend. Immediately recognizing the portability and “cool factor” of the guitar, Don and his older brother began teaching themselves tunes by the Beatles, Cream, Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath.

By the age of ten, Don was playing less with a pick and more with his fingers. He was fascinated by the possibility of playing several lines at once: melody, middle voices, bass line. To achieve some of the musical ideas he had in mind, he started retuning the guitar to suit them, inventing new tunings that made things easier at first. But he also realized that he could expand the range of the instrument to make the low strings lower and the high strings higher. The possibilities seemed almost endless.

He began playing publicly (and for money) in his hometown of Montreal at the age of 15. Fortunately he looked old enough to drink by then and even played occasionally at some of the downtown pubs that featured live acoustic music! Around the same time he discovered the music of legendary Canadian singer/guitarist Bruce Cockburn. Don was amazed that such an insightful lyricist could also be a tremendous guitarist. The musical future seemed very bright indeed. He was inspired to write his first strong instrumental tunes for solo guitar around this time.

Don eventually studied Music at Toronto’s York University. Strangely enough, he didn’t focus on guitar but rather on composition, electronic music, and sound recording. Upon graduating, he had visions of being a composer of orchestral and electronic music or film scores..certainly not any delusions of playing solo guitar for a living. What changed his mind was seeing the success of musicians like Michael Hedges, Steve Reich and Keith Jarrett, player/composers who followed their musical intuitions wherever they led and who fell more into the category of “artist” rather than “guitarist” or “pianist.”

After graduation, Don decided that the best forum for what he did as a composer would be to perform his guitar music himself. In 1988, he won the U.S. National Fingerstyle Guitar Competition. This earned him a fair amount of media attention back home in Canada, and within days he was scouted to record for Toronto-based independent record label Duke Street Records. He recorded his debut for the label, Bearing Straight, which was released in 1989. Two more recordings for the label followed, 1990’s Don Ross and 1993’s Three Hands. Don then signed with Columbia/Sony and recorded three more CDs for that label: This Dragon Won’t Sleep in 1995, Wintertide in 1996 and Loaded. Leather. Moonroof. in 1997. In the meantime, Don won the Fingerstyle competition in the USA for a second time in 1996. To this day, he is still the only player to have won the competition twice!

Signing with Narada Records in 1999, Don released his first completely solo-guitar CD, Passion Session. Recorded in a series of overnight sessions in Berlin’s Passionskirche (The Church of the Passion), the CD has gone on to top many of the “all time best acoustic guitar recordings” lists in publications like Acoustic Guitar Magazine. Some of the compositions on Passion Session, such as “Michael, Michael, Michael,” “Klimbim,” and “Tight Trite Night” have become standards in world guitar repertoire. Huron Street (2001) and Robot Monster (2003) followed, showcasing the depth of Don’s compositional history as well as his ongoing interest in electronic music, through collaborations with Berlin composer Christoph Bendel.

With the collapse of the conventional recording industry in the early 21st century, Don entered into a new venture with Milwaukee-based CandyRat Records and its founder, Rob Poland. The move to a completely internet-based model of releasing recordings resulted in the first ever CandyRat CD, 2005’s Music for Vacuuming. CandyRat has gone on to release recordings by dozens of international artists, primarily guitarists and songwriters. YouTube exposure has helped all of the CandyRat artists, and made an international star of Don’s good friend Andy McKee. Other recent projects Don has released in collaboration with CandyRat are Live in Your Head (2006), the thing that came from somewhere (2008, with Andy McKee), his all-vocal CD Any Colour (2009), the solo guitar albums Breakfast for Dogs! (2010) and Upright and Locked Position, as well as two performance DVDs: Don Ross Live and Live in Toronto (with Michael Manring and Andy McKee).

Don has toured regularly since 1989, across Canada, the USA, a dozen European countries, Japan, Taiwan, China, Australia, Russia and India. He has played with symphony orchestras in Canada and Germany, and collaborated live and on recording with Andy McKee, Canadian singer/guitarist Brooke Miller, & Toronto bassist Jordan O’Connor. He also composes scores for television, radio and film, and does production and recording engineering for a variety of other musicians. In addition to acoustic guitar, Don also plays electric guitar, slide dobro and lapsteel guitar, voice, piano, keyboards, bass guitar and drums.

Don grew up in Montreal, has lived at various times in Ontario, Nova Scotia, the USA and Quebec, and now resides in Toronto.