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Tommy Johnson's Guitar Style

GUEST,Niggardly Bastard 24 Mar 13 - 08:47 PM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 25 Mar 13 - 07:56 AM
Bobert 25 Mar 13 - 08:57 AM
Big Al Whittle 25 Mar 13 - 10:08 AM
Dave MacKenzie 25 Mar 13 - 10:27 AM
GUEST,Niggardly Bastard 25 Mar 13 - 11:12 AM
The Sandman 25 Mar 13 - 02:19 PM
GUEST,Stim 25 Mar 13 - 03:06 PM
The Sandman 25 Mar 13 - 04:26 PM
GUEST,Niggardly Bastard 26 Mar 13 - 05:05 AM
Big Al Whittle 26 Mar 13 - 02:51 PM
The Sandman 26 Mar 13 - 05:10 PM
GUEST,Niggardly Bastard 27 Mar 13 - 10:00 PM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 28 Mar 13 - 08:46 AM
Stanron 28 Mar 13 - 01:23 PM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 28 Mar 13 - 01:54 PM
Stanron 28 Mar 13 - 02:33 PM
Dave MacKenzie 28 Mar 13 - 04:38 PM
Stanron 28 Mar 13 - 05:09 PM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 28 Mar 13 - 07:29 PM
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Subject: Review: Tommy Johnson's Guitar Style
From: GUEST,Niggardly Bastard
Date: 24 Mar 13 - 08:47 PM

What can any of you teach me about Tommy Johnson's guitar playing?
I do understand he used Dropped D tuning.


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Subject: RE: Tommy Johnson's Guitar Style
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 25 Mar 13 - 07:56 AM

Some suggestion here Tommy Johnson's guitar style that he (maybe as well as dropped D - I haven't investigated this and I don't have time at the moment) used a tuning with 5 to G ie EGDGBE.

(Have you seen the Tommy Johnson site. I don't think it has anything on the guitar style, but it does have a bibliography that might be worth checking out).

Mick


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Subject: RE: Tommy Johnson's Guitar Style
From: Bobert
Date: 25 Mar 13 - 08:57 AM

Sounds like an open G to me...

His style is very much square in the middle of "country blues"... Not exactly Piedmont style (John Hurt, John Jackson) but closer to that than delta style which is more slashing (Son House, Johnny Shines)...

B~


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Subject: RE: Tommy Johnson's Guitar Style
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 25 Mar 13 - 10:08 AM

The guitar style reminds me of Jimmy Rogers, the singing brakeman.

A bit like what they used to call church picking - except the plectrum doesn't seem to have the upstroke.


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Subject: RE: Tommy Johnson's Guitar Style
From: Dave MacKenzie
Date: 25 Mar 13 - 10:27 AM

If you look inn Steffan Grossman's books, there are a few transcriptions.


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Subject: RE: Tommy Johnson's Guitar Style
From: GUEST,Niggardly Bastard
Date: 25 Mar 13 - 11:12 AM

Jimmie Rodgers' style reminds me of Leadbelly.


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Subject: RE: Tommy Johnson's Guitar Style
From: The Sandman
Date: 25 Mar 13 - 02:19 PM

Jimmie Rodgers' style reminds me of Leadbelly.
firstly they played two different instruments, the 6 string guitar and the 12 string, HEAR THEY ARE http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gbzc77Tz6PA JIMMY RODGERS.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y5tOpyipNJs LEADBELLY.
if you think they are similiar, might i suggest otherwise


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Subject: RE: Tommy Johnson's Guitar Style
From: GUEST,Stim
Date: 25 Mar 13 - 03:06 PM

He used standard tuning, and plays in a variety of keys. If he didn't use a thumb brush and down and up stroke with the index finger, you could still do pretty much everything he did that way. Charlie Patton-like, I'd call it.


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Subject: RE: Tommy Johnson's Guitar Style
From: The Sandman
Date: 25 Mar 13 - 04:26 PM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VQva5wKSfzM
leadbelly singing about hitler, his guitar style is unique


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Subject: RE: Tommy Johnson's Guitar Style
From: GUEST,Niggardly Bastard
Date: 26 Mar 13 - 05:05 AM

Where I can see a similarity in Jimmie Rodgers and Leadbelly's playing (bass lines mostly), I can see no similarity between Tommy Johnson and Jimmie Rodgers.


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Subject: RE: Tommy Johnson's Guitar Style
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 26 Mar 13 - 02:51 PM

That's cos you probably never heard Tommy's version of English Country Garden.


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Subject: RE: Tommy Johnson's Guitar Style
From: The Sandman
Date: 26 Mar 13 - 05:10 PM

ha ha, niggardly, check mate.


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Subject: RE: Tommy Johnson's Guitar Style
From: GUEST,Niggardly Bastard
Date: 27 Mar 13 - 10:00 PM

Well I found a 3 part lesson on Tommy Johnson's Canned Heat at youtube.
In Drop D tuning.
I think he had a unique Delta style.
I tried to post a link.
No luck.


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Subject: RE: Tommy Johnson's Guitar Style
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 28 Mar 13 - 08:46 AM

There are a few videos for playing his songs eg Tommy Johnsons has Canned Heat and Big Road. And here's the first part of a Canned Heat lesson on youtube. There are some tabs too I think.

At least one discussion suggest that on at least one recording (maybe Canned Heat, maybe not - I can't remember offhand) that someone else played guitar on the session (because Johnson was so drunk they thought he could only concentrate on the singing) and it was played in standard D rather than dropped D that Johnson used. I think I've seen tabs/video of Canned Heat in standard too.

There's a fair bit of information out there, but it's spread about. I'll try and get back with some coherent information later.

Mick


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Subject: RE: Tommy Johnson's Guitar Style
From: Stanron
Date: 28 Mar 13 - 01:23 PM

Usually by this time in a thread like this someone would have posted a link to a track by the man himself. This time there is a link to Jimmy Rogers (no complaints there) and two to Leadbelly as well as some tutorial stuff. Has no one got a link to a track that is actually by Tommy Johnson, please?


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Subject: RE: Tommy Johnson's Guitar Style
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 28 Mar 13 - 01:54 PM

Stanron - Virtually every recording he made is on youtube. I have 18 distinct tracks from there and most have several copies.

Cool Drink of Water Blues
Big Road Blues
Bye Bye Blues
Maggie Campbell Blues
Canned Heat Blues
Lonesome Home Blues - take 1
Lonesome Home Blues - take 2
Big Fat Mama Blues
Button Up Shoes
I Wonder To Myself
Slidin' Delta
Morning Prayer Blues
Boogaloosa Woman
Black Mare Blues
Ridin' Horse
Alcohol and Jake Blues
I Want Someone To Love Me

Those up to Button Up Shoes were from the 1928 sessions, the rest from the 1929. You can see the discography here: Tommy Johnson discography


Mick


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Subject: RE: Tommy Johnson's Guitar Style
From: Stanron
Date: 28 Mar 13 - 02:33 PM

Mick (MCP) many thanks.
To the original poster, I can't hear anything that can't be done in normal tuning. It may well be that the recording does not register lower notes well enough but if he is using dropped D I can't hear either the low D or the slide up to G you might expect to get every now and then.

Incidentally this (Canned Heat) is nothing like Jimmy Rogers or Leadbelly. Maybe other tracks are.


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Subject: RE: Tommy Johnson's Guitar Style
From: Dave MacKenzie
Date: 28 Mar 13 - 04:38 PM

It's difficult to play "Big Road Blues" without using dropped D. You don't get the parallell runs on the 3rd and 5th strings otherwise, unless you work it out somehow in open tuning.


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Subject: RE: Tommy Johnson's Guitar Style
From: Stanron
Date: 28 Mar 13 - 05:09 PM

The funny thing is when I listened to 'Big Road Blues' it sounded like two guitars, one tuned op a half step and played in D and the other tuned down a half step and played in E. The guy playing in D has a swing feel and the guy in E plays straight. Then I looked at the discography link and found that Charlie McCoy is listed also on guitar. To get that kind of sound on one guitar you'ld need to be in dropped D.


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Subject: RE: Tommy Johnson's Guitar Style
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 28 Mar 13 - 07:29 PM

There's a discussion site for some of Tommy Johnson's lyrics and there's information on tuning for some of the tracks there : Tommy Johnson Lyrics. They think Big Road Blues used dropped-D; you'll have to wade through the 20 pages to find it, but the relevant quote is: "Big Road Blues was the second of two songs that Tommy Johnson performed on his first day of recording. Johnson is playing in D using Dropped D tuning, with Charlie McCoy again on second guitar". I haven't had a chance to look at the tuning in the tracks yet, but might manage that tomorrow.

Mick


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