Author Archives: rootsmusicschool

Swampy Rhythm Guitar Tone Walkthrough

Here’s a behind-the-scenes look into the recording of my finger-style guitar arrangement of Ray Charles’ “What’d I Say.” Watch the above video to check out the rig, settings, guitar, and techniques I use to perform this track.

I chose to tune down a whole step for this performance, both because the lower tuning gives more body and low-end fatness to the tone, but also because the stings get looser, and the slackness in the strings help accentuate that swampy vibe. Try tuning down any time you want to add some “swamp” to your tone.

I strung this guitar up with a “standard set” of my Justin Johnson Signature Guitar Strings, which are designed to give you better pitch control, and a smooth touch, even when you are tuning down into lower open tunings. Check them out here.

•GUITAR: “Bad Ass Customs” Hollow-body Bowling Alley Lane Guitar
•CABLES: Mogami Guitar and Mic Cables
•AMP: Fender Blackface Princeton Reissue
•STRINGS: Justin Johnson Signature “Standard Set” Guitar Strings
•ACOUSTIC PANELS: ProSoCoustic Gobo Panels

If you have song requests or gear questions, let me know in the comments. Please click the “Follow” button on this page to get more Roots Music Lessons.

Keep Rockin’
Justin Johnson

Justin Johnson Interview with Now Hear This Entertainment

My interview with Now Hear This Entertainment is now available to stream: Click Here to Listen

This was an especially fun interview for me because it was one of those times when the interviewer’s questions make you think deeper into a subject than you had expected, and you surprise yourself with the answers. We talked touring, recording, and pursuing a professional music career as an independent artist. Hope you enjoy it!

Here’s the link to listen:

Dialing in Blues Fingerpicking Guitar Tone

I love a screaming guitar solo as much as anyone, but some of my favorite music to listen to is that greasy, slow, electric fingerpicking blues guitar. Lightning Hopkins, John Lee Hooker, and R.L. Burnside are some of my favorites in that style.

I’ve gotten several requests to cover the song “Hard Time Killing Floor Blues,” by Skip James. It’s a perfect slow blues song to perform as a solo 6-string arrangement, since it has such a killer vocal melody and baseline.

For this recording, I chose to pick on my vintage Harmony Monterey guitar. It’s got a clean and punchy acoustic tone, which I mic’ed with a WA-47 Tube mic from Warm Audio. I also plugged the guitar into a Fender Princeton Blackface (re-issue) with the vibrato intensity cranked to 11. The old Hershey bar pickup in the Harmony is in neck position, which also contributes to the warm, full-bodied electric tone. Watch the video above, for the complete details on the gear and settings I used.

If you want to check out more of my rig-rundowns, and get a behind-the-scenes look into my recordings and videos, Subscribe to my new channel “Live form the Guitar Loft” HERE. If you have song requests or gear questions, let me know in the comments there. That channel is devoted to answering questions and requests. 

Make sure you click the “FOLLOW” button to the right of this, to get more of my articles. …and of course, check out my music, downloads, lessons, and signature guitars at

Keep Rockin’,
Justin Johnson

Brand New Guitar Bundles to Save you Money and Get you Extras!

Justin Johnson has created a huge new inventory of awesome instructional material for 6-string guitar & more, so while we’re restocking the shelves with all of this awesomeness, we took the opportunity to create some killer new DISCOUNT BUNDLES to reward you with discounts & extras for showing your support!  The more you buy, the more you save & the more Freebies you get, so DIVE IN, see what’s new, fill out your wish list, & come get it! 

Get all 6 of Justin Johnson’s newly released Video Courses for 6-String Guitar on Either DVD or Digital Download & SAVE $20!
Get all 4 of Justin Johnson’s Current Double Albums on Either CD or Digital Download & SAVE $10!

Justin Johnson Signature Guitar String Sets

Private Label Specs

Through a collaboration between Justin Johnson and GHS Strings, we are proud to present the all new JUSTIN JOHNSON SIGNATURE GUITAR STRING SETS
Justin has specifically chosen every detail of the strings’ material, winding, and gauge, for durability, balanced feel, versatile tuning flexibility, and killer tone! 
We have 2 custom sets available, designed to give you the voice and feel that will improve your tone and playing, whether you play slide guitar or fretted. 

STRING GAUGE  – 11 • 15 • 19 • 28 • 40 • 50 ​





STRING GAUGE  – 10 •  14 • 17 • 28 • 40 • 50



Did you see the new Guitar Lesson Series for 6-String Guitar?


Justin Johnson’s Brand New FULL 6-STRING GUITAR LESSON SERIES has just been released for INSTANT DIGITAL DOWNLOAD! Available as individual downloads, or
 Save $20 on the Full Set!


Fingerpicking Foundations
Whether you are a total beginner, or just want to brush up on the foundational techniques of fingerpicking, this course has got you covered. Justin Johnson breaks down the key elements that help you improve your fingerpicking quickly using a combination of song walkthroughs, warm-up exercises, detailed explanations, and in-screen tablature. This video course is designed to save you years of fingerpicking practice.


Intermediate Fingerpicking
“Intermediate Fingerpicking” picks up right where “Fingerpicking Foundations” course leaves off. This video course will take you through a series of carefully composed song walkthroughs, designed to introduce you to increasingly more challenging and intricate fingerpicking techniques. If you have learned the basics, then “Intermediate Fingerpicking” will take your playing to the next level.


Slide Guitar Foundations
If you want to fast-track your slide guitar progress, the best way to do it is to master the foundational techniques from the ground up. In this course, Justin Johnson teaches everything from anchoring, muting, and vibrato techniques, to age-old secrets to developing a bluesy and soulful touch with the guitar slide. This course is perfect for total beginners, as well as experienced players who want to strengthen their foundational knowledge and weed out bad habits.


Intermediate Slide Guitar
This course is designed to flesh out and tighten up your slide guitar technique, taking you from intermediate into advanced level playing. You’ll learn Open Tunings, Delta Blues techniques, percussive techniques, advanced muting, anchoring, and much more. If you are familiar with basic slide guitar, but ready to take your playing to the next level, then dig into “Intermediate Slide Guitar.”


Hill Country Blues
Get back to your roots, and dig into the heart of blues guitar. In Justin Johnson’s “Hill Country Blues” video course, you’ll learn everything from creating a “whole band sound” on guitar, to proven strategies and techniques for improvising your own guitar solos. Justin uses in-depth song walkthroughs to teach you the inflections, riffs, and thought-process to master Hill Country Blues guitar.


One-Minute Riffs: Volume 1
“One-Minute Riffs: Volume 1” is a collection of musical lessons by Justin Johnson that will teach you a wealth of essential guitar techniques without you even knowing it! Each of the 30 riffs in this lesson series is so easy that you can learn it in one minute. However, you will also get valuable instruction on how to master these riffs, and then take them to the next level by applying them musically to your own style, arrangements, and performances.

Blues Fingerpicking Techniques – with Tablature

To kick off the release of my new 6-part guitar lesson series, I’m posting this free excerpt from the “Intermediate Fingerpicking” course.

Not only will this lesson teach you a solo acoustic blues fingerpicking song, it will also walk you through how to develop tone and articulation, bend, pull-off, hammer-on, and dive into complex techniques that give you playing more style and emotion.

If you like this excerpt from “Intermediate Fingerpicking,” then get the entire video course instantly by CLICKING HERE.

Also, make sure you check out the other titles in the new 6-string guitar lesson course by clicking a title below:
• Fingerpicking Foundations
• Intermediate Fingerpicking
• Slide Guitar Foundations
• Intermediate Slide Guitar
• Hill Country Blues
• One-Minute Riffs: Volume 1

Or, better yet, get the full series and get $20 off! 

Also, huge thanks to all of the fans out there who made this lesson series possible by contributing to my Kickstarter fundraiser for it!  You ROCK!
Justin Johnson


Learn Guitar in One Minute! …well, kinda…


With the pace of life getting faster, and attention spans getting shorter, it’s time for guitar lessons that can fit into your busy schedule!  Each of these lessons is designed to teach you essential techniques, using a musical riff that’s fun to play, in only one minute!

Make sure you watch my hands closely in the videos, pay attention to which fingers I am using to pluck or fret the strings, start out playing the riff slowly, and then build up the speed through steady repetition.

Do you want MORE in-depth 6-string lessons?

These one-minute-riff videos were made to promote my upcoming 5-Part In-Depth Guitar Lesson Series, which I am currently funding through Kickstarter.  As an independent artist with no label support, I’m able to choose to give the fans what they want, because I have no record label making decisions about what I can devote my time and creative energy to.  That allows me to respond directly when fans say they want something (like 6-string guitar lessons).. but it also means that I need fan support to make it happen!

If 6-String Guitar Lessons is something you would enjoy, all I ask is that you consider pre-ordering, because that is how I fund the time, equipment, editing, graphics design, production, manufacturing, & all that is necessary to put out a great project.

If you contribute to my Kickstarter at ANY level, you will receive ALL 30 of these one-minute lessons as a digital download for FREE!  So, if you like these One Minute Riff lessons, and want more, than CLICK THIS LINK, and pre-order before the fundraiser ends.

Justin Johnson

Check Out my Kickstarter Page HERE!

justin johnson guitar lesson series banner


These are just a few of the rewards you can get through my Kickstarter Page…

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Fingerpicking Tips To Save Years of Guitar Practice

I’ve been getting a lot of questions about the techniques I used to help develop my fingerpicking style over the years.  When I was just starting to learn guitar, and through each stage of development, I would often hit walls and feel like my progress was dragging along too slowly.  Each time I progressed past one of those frustrating plateaus, it was because I learned a new technique that helped guide me in the right direction.  In the following video lesson, I will share some of those plateau-busting techniques that allowed me to develop quicker and more freely.

As you work through the exercises in this video lesson, don’t forget that practice is key.  You will only be able to easily master these techniques through repetition.  Also, make sure you follow the tips on anchoring and hand position, as they will save you hours of frustration once you incorporate them into your playing style.

Keep Pickin’!
Justin Johnson

•Don’t forget to click the FOLLOW button on the right-hand column of this page to stay informed about my future lessons and articles•

Official Justin Johnson Music Store at:
Instructional Books & DVDs Available at:


Killer New Guitar Slide Designs!

Guitar Slides come in a multitude of different shapes, textures, materials, weights, and sizes… and all of those factors affect the sound, playability, and versatility of the slide.  Just like painters who use a combination of different brushes to create the details and textures of a painting, it’s important to learn about what distinguishes different guitar slides from one another, in order to make and informed decision next time you pick up the guitar.

I worked closely with Jim Dunlop to design and manufacture my Justin Johnson Signature Guitar Slide with an eye towards creating the best combination of tone, sustain, and feel that we could squeeze into one slide… but no single option beats having an arsenal of gear to choose from, so that you can select the perfect fit for each musical context.

I recently received several packages from around the world with some exciting, new, and innovative design concepts… along with some classic and re-imagined designs.  Check out the following LIVE STREAM video and hang out with me while we get to know these slides and what makes them special.

Keep Rockin’ the Roots!
Justin Johnson
•Official Online Music Store:
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