Robert Johnson Guitar Techniques DVD


Highly recommended by students and reviewers. A fine overview of Delta Blues techniques, slide guitar, and various tunings featuring instruction on seven representative Johnson songs:

  • Kindhearted Woman Blues
  • Sweet Home Chicago
  • Drunken Hearted Man
  • Ramblin’ on my Mind
  • Walkin’ Blues
  • Come On In My Kitchen
  • Cross Road Blues




Robert Johnson DVD Lessons by Scott Ainslie

Brattleboro, VT (November 24, 2005) Eric Clapton called him, “The most important blues musician who ever lived.” The Rolling Stones’ Keith Richard, and Led Zepplin’s Robert Plant and Jimmy Page cited him as a formative influence. Delta Blues legend Robert Johnson died in 1938, but his recordings continue to inspire rock and blues musicians. Now, his guitar techniques are influencing the wired generation in a new DVD lesson, “Robert Johnson” (Hal Leonard Guitar Signature Licks, 2005) taught by blues musician and historian Scott Ainslie, available in stores and online at

“This new DVD presents a concise and accessible lesson on Robert’s guitar style and techniques,” Ainslie says, “and successfully opens solo acoustic blues techniques for a new generation of guitarists.” In the DVD lesson, Ainslie teaches seven representative Johnson titles including works in standard guitar tuning as well as Johnson’s distinctive slide accompaniments in open tunings. Johnson’s original 1937 version of the Clapton hit, “Crossroads Blues,” is taught here as well.

In a conversational style, Ainslie guides guitarists deep into the secrets of Delta Blues. “The idea is for guitarists not only to be able play Johnson’s guitar parts,” Ainslie notes, “but to understand them, as well.” Ainslie places Johnson’s work within a tradition of Delta Blues, citing Johnson’s influences and offering alternate versions of his guitar parts from the playing of early blues/jazz guitar great Lonnie Johnson, as well as from one of Robert Johnson’s surviving students, David “Honeyboy” Edwards, a recipient of the National Folk Heritage Award and author of The World Don’t Owe Me Nothing, (Chicago Review Press, 1997).

“This new DVD format is perfectly suited to the needs of contemporary guitarists,” Ainslie notes, adding, “We’ve been waiting for the release of this material in this format for quite some time. Now it’s open to musicians all over the world.”

This  DVD guitar lesson is devoted to Johnson’s work. And this is where part of his mystery ends. Seven of Johnson’s greatest pieces are taught, showcasing representative guitar figures that recur throughout his recordings.

Condensing more than twenty years of teaching, performing and research on Johnson’s guitar style, this DVD guitar lesson offers a concise and accessible demonstration of the techniques Johnson used to create his remarkable guitar parts. In this video, you will travel to the crossroads of the Delta Blues with a contemporary master and learn to play.


  1. Scott Ainslie

    “If you are one of the many frustrated bluesmen who have considered selling your soul to the devil in exchange for the ability to play like Robert Johnson, stop right there! Starlicks offers you a better option: Robert Johnson’s Guitar Techniques, a video instruction tape by Johnson transcriber Scott Ainslie that will help you not only play Johnson’s guitar parts, but understand them as well.

    “Ainslie teaches seven of Johnson’s tunes here, among them three of his most popular: “Sweet Home Chicago,” “Come On In My Kitchen,” and “Cross Road Blues.” One reason the lesson works so well is that it does not require the student to rewind as much as most instructional tapes do. Ainslie explains an idea, then plays it several times before moving on. This allows you to keep your hands on your guitar instead of on your remote control. The booklet that comes with the tape is also helpful because it focuses on each section of a tune instead of giving you continuous transcriptions of the songs.

    “While one need not be an accomplished fingerpicker or even familiar with the structure of the blues to benefit from this lesson, Ainslie does gear part of his instruction to more experienced students by offering advanced variations on the tunes. In a couple of instances, he does this by examining the techniques of guitarists who influenced Johnson. In addition to making the student aware of other great blues fingerpickers, these segments drive home an important point—that contemporary guitarists shouldn’t be afraid to be creative in their own arrangements of Delta blues.”

    “The range of topics covered here is impressive for a 60- minute lesson: rhythmic variation within a tune, octave walk-downs, diminished chords, using a slide to play chords as well as clean-sounding single-string licks, and various tunings used by Johnson—standard, dropped D, open E and open A.

    “Ainslie carefully shows how to integrate the bass patterns, percussive right hand work and melodic fills that made Johnson one of the gods of acoustic blues.”

    – Jim Coen, Guitar World Acoustic Magazine

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