Don Ross has 71 guitar lessons and videos at JamPlay, with 71 intermediate lessons. Use the tabs below to learn more.
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Don Ross, an award-winning, Billboard-topping fingerstyle artist, will teach you everything you need to know to get started in fingerstyle guitar.
New fingerstyle instructor Don Ross introduces himself, his background, and what you should...View This Full Lesson!
Don Ross talks about the way he plays and how he got started in his particular style....Length: 14:09
Don Ross takes some time to talk about where he places each right hand finger while playing...Length: 9:10
Don Ross talks about fingerpicking patterns with a focus on Travis Picking. He explains...Length: 22:55
Don Ross dives into Travis Picking once more. This time, he specifically focuses on patterns...Length: 14:10
This time, Don Ross demonstrates Travis patterns with chords that have a root note on...Length: 9:21
Having thoroughly explored Travis picking, Don Ross now takes some time to talk about...Length: 12:27
Don Ross takes a couple lessons to talk about altered tunings and open tunings. In this...Length: 8:05
Don Ross now discusses open tunings. Open tunings get their name because the open strings...Length: 18:40
Don Ross talks more about open G tuning and how to make it more applicable to your playing...Length: 13:46
Don Ross talks about open D tuning, how it's similar to open C tuning, and how you can...Length: 17:44
In this lesson, Don Ross explains open C tuning. As with the G and D tuning lessons, he...Length: 26:48
Don Ross looks at DADGAD tuning in this lesson. He explores different ways to play, how...Length: 17:56
Don Ross takes another look at DADGAD and how you can play harmonically in this tuning.Length: 11:19
Don Ross continues his discussion on DADGAD tuning and brings it all together with Travis...Length: 10:58
Don Ross takes a final look at DADGAD tuning in this lesson. This time, he explores some...Length: 10:41
Don Ross takes a look at a unique and beautiful tuning, CDCGAD, or in Don's words, the...Length: 14:35
Don Ross takes a look at the first part of his original song "Brooke's Waltz". This song...Length: 17:44
Don Ross moves on and covers the second portion of his original song "Brooke's Waltz".Length: 12:05
Don Ross finishes up the trio of lesson on his song "Brooke's Waltz". This time around...Length: 15:43
In this lesson, Don talks about how you can use simple music theory to add colorful extensions...Length: 18:41
Don Ross delves into one of his sweeter melodies - "Upright & Locked Position". In this...Length: 18:22
Don Ross teaches the B section of his song "Upright & Locked Position".Length: 8:49
Don Ross returns to his song "Upright & Locked Position" and teaches the C part. He then...Length: 18:39
Harmonics sound awesome, and no player's arsenal is complete without this versatile technique....Length: 13:19
Don Ross talks about "slap" harmonics and "brush" harmonics and how they can be used.Length: 8:36
Don Ross teaches a harmonic technique he calls the "ripple effect". This technique was...Length: 11:43
Don Ross builds on lesson 28 by discussing more ways in which the "ripple effect" can...Length: 9:04
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.
Don Ross introduces the series, and talks about exactly what you will learn. He also demonstrates...Length: 6:25
In this lesson Don Ross introduces the concept of polyrhythms, or playing two different...Length: 7:07
Don Ross introduces a 3 against 2 polyrhythm. He starts off by demonstrating how to get...Length: 14:40
It's time to take the 3 against 2 polyrhtyhm one step further. In the previous lesson...Length: 8:34
Don Ross ups the complexity of the 3 against 2 polyrhythm he has been teaching. The fun...Length: 6:11
These polyrhythm exercises are really starting to get interesting. Don complicates the...Length: 11:31
It's time to graduate to a new polyrythmic pattern: 4 against 3. Think of this as 3 against...Length: 18:21
It's practice time! Get your guitar out and follow along to learn how to apply the 4 against...Length: 5:08
Don once again returns to the mesmerizing world of 4 against 3 polyrhythms. This time...Length: 7:18
Head up! We are almost there! This is the last exercise in the 4 against 3 polyrhythm...Length: 14:25
In this quick yet powerful lesson, Don demonstrates how polyrhythm can be used in musical...Length: 13:29
Now that you have a basic understanding of polyrhythm, it's time to move on to a song....Length: 18:27
Don Ross teaches the first 8 bars of his original song "Stop Driving, Start Playing."Length: 22:35
Don Ross teaches the second 8 bars of his song "Stop Driving, Start Playing."Length: 32:18
Don Ross moves on and starts teaching the B section of his hit song, "Stop Driving, Start...Length: 14:18
Don Ross moves on and teaches the rest of the B section of his song "Stop Driving, Start...Length: 22:10
In this lesson Don Ross talks about the concept of relative major and relative minor....Length: 14:21
In this lesson Don Ross takes the concept of the relative minor and major keys and demonstrates...Length: 11:29
Don will discuss how the relative minor and major keys can be used with alternate tunings....Length: 10:01
Don Ross reviews the ultra-cool technique commonly known as "The Ripple Effect." This...Length: 8:47
It's time to start learning the song "Cup of Pop," as it is an excellent way to reinforce...Length: 10:12
Before we can learn the song "Cup of Pop" we need to make sure we can play "The Ripple...Length: 3:05
"The Ripple Effect" is insanely cool on it's own, but insanely cool isn't good enough...Length: 8:14
Don Ross takes the "Ripple and Tap" technique from the last lesson and demonstrates how...Length: 4:31
Don Ross teaches the first section of his hit tune, "Cup of Pop." Limber up your hands,...Length: 44:03
Don Ross launches into the B section of his illustrious and highly difficult song, "Cup...Length: 18:58
In this lesson Don Ross takes a look at one of the signature moments from "Cup of Pop,"...Length: 9:07
Don Ross returns to the song "Cup of Pop" to teach the venerated D section. This comes...Length: 7:31
It's time to return to the original tuning for the song. Don discusses the E section in...Length: 5:57
"All good things must end" may sound rather cliche, yet at the end of this fabulous song...Length: 10:52
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.
Don gives an overview of what to expect from this series.Length: 4:20
Utilizing the visual element of a piano keyboard, and your ears (of course), Don walks...Length: 12:09
As we begin to look at intervals, we start with the smallest classified interval, as semitone,...Length: 18:52
Don continues to explore the concept of intervals, now looking at the 4th and 5th scale...Length: 16:46
In this lesson, we're going to look at the last two intervals in a Major Scale, the 6th...Length: 15:06
In this lesson, Don teaches some helpful tools for memorizing the sound of the intervals.Length: 11:06
Join Don as he breaks down the intervals that go into making a major or minor triad.Length: 24:42
In this lesson, Don works on the skill of hearing the difference between a Major and Minor...Length: 14:27
In this lesson, Don examines three chords that are perhaps the most ubiquitous chords...Length: 10:29
Continue strengthening your ear with Don with some listening exercises based around the...Length: 9:53
Building off of what we've learned about the major chords in C Major, Don walks through...Length: 17:30
Using our chord knowledge, we will start working on recognizing chord changes by ear through...Length: 25:35
Transposition, is a vital skill for any versatile musician. In this lesson, Don introduces...Length: 13:01
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.