Beginner Acoustic with Orville

Beginner Guitar Course from Orville Johnson

Discover the essentials with Orville Johnson by learning some of the most popular topics and techniques in beginner guitar.

21 Lessons

Complete course with step-by-step lessons and practice examples.


Course filmed with 6 cameras for the perfect angles.

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Full Course Breakdown

Orville Johnson teaches key topics for beginner guitarists in this information-packed lesson series.


Overcoming Beginner Challenges

Orville talks about some challenges you will likely face as a beginner and offers some advice that will help you overcome them.

13:05 Runtime

0.5 Difficulty


Flatpick and Strumming

Orville talks about flatpicks, how to hold them, and how to strum with them.

13:29 Runtime

1.0 Difficulty

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Fingerpicking and Patterns

Orville Johnson introduces some basic fingerpicking patterns.

6:58 Runtime

2.0 Difficulty


Metronome and Practicing

Orville Johnson explains why it is important to practice with a metronome. He also covers some practice strategies that will help minimize your frustration.

21:35 Runtime

1.0 Difficulty


Practical Theory Part 1: Intervals

Orville dives into part 1 of his beginners' guide to practical theory. In this lesson, you will learn the basics of intervals.

17:30 Runtime

2.0 Difficulty


Practical Theory Part 2: Scales

Orville Johnson takes a look at scales in part 2 of his practical theory mini-series.

18:40 Runtime

2.0 Difficulty


Practical Theory Part 3: Chords and Construction

Orville Johnson jumps into part 3 of his practical theory mini-series. This lesson is about chords and their construction.

21:08 Runtime

2.0 Difficulty


Practical Theory Pt. 4: Modes

It's now time to tap back into the practical music theory portion of this series. Continuing on with part 4, Orville now discusses what modes are and how they are really just scales with Greek names.

19:50 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


Basic Blues Shuffle

Orville Johnson demonstrates a basic blues shuffle. This incredibly easy rhythm piece will have you sounding like a blues great in no time!

12:38 Runtime

1.5 Difficulty


Connecting Chords with Bass Runs

Orville Johnson demonstrates how simple chord progressions can be spruced up with bass runs. The classic song "Oh! Susanna" is used as an example.

12:04 Runtime

1.5 Difficulty


Voice Leading

Orville Johnson talks about the concept of voice leading. This concept will help you play chord progressions that flow better and sound more harmonious.

10:20 Runtime

2.0 Difficulty


Major Chords

Orville Johnson teaches the basic major chords in this lesson. He also explains the best way to change from chord to chord, a challenge for many beginners.

19:23 Runtime

1.5 Difficulty


Note Values

Orville Johnson jumps into some light theory with a lesson on note values.

7:51 Runtime

2.0 Difficulty


The CAGED System

Orville Johnson takes a beginner's look at the CAGED system.

8:14 Runtime

2.0 Difficulty


Open D Tuning

Orville Johnson introduces open D tuning and encourages exploration of its possibilities. This tuning is great for a broad range of playing styles.

24:04 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


Open G Tuning

This time, Orville Johnson introduces open G tuning. This tuning is great for a broad range of playing styles and sounds pretty without even fingering a chord.

21:28 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


Beginner Fingerstyle Techniques

This lesson is perfect for the beginner looking to develop dexterity and independence in the right hand fingers. Orville guides you step by step through basic rhythm concepts and fingerstyle exercises.

26:00 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


How Does a Capo Work?

This lesson presents any beginner with the information needed to understand how a capo works. This tool enables you to change the key of a song without learning any new chord voicings.

22:07 Runtime

1.5 Difficulty


Beginner Lead Techniques

Orville introduces basic techniques that can be used to play lead guitar. This lesson includes a primer on hammer-ons, pull-offs, bends and harmonics.

22:14 Runtime

3.0 Difficulty


Orville's Guide to Practicing

Orville dispenses a lifetime of accrued wisdom on the subject of practicing and learning. This lesson is only 16 minutes long, and it will not only change how you learn the guitar, but can also be applied to all facets of your life.

16:38 Runtime

1.0 Difficulty


Creating New Chords

This lesson is all about creating different types of chords. This does steer the lesson towards music theory, but the information is invaluable and infinitely applicable.

23:05 Runtime

3.0 Difficulty

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  • Seattle, Washington
  • Playing since 1970
  • 128 lessons at JamPlay

Orville moved to Seattle, Washington in 1978, where he was a founding member of the much-loved and well-remembered folk/rock group, the Dynamic Logs. Other musical associates include Laura Love, Ranch Romance, File' Gumbo Zydeco Band, Scott Law, and the Twirling Mickeys. Johnson, known for his dobro and slide guitar stylings and vocal acrobatics, has played on over 100 albums. He has appeared on Garrison Keilor's Prairie Home Companion, Jay Leno's Tonight Show and was featured in the 1997 film Georgia with Mare Winningham. His musical expertise can also be heard on the Microsoft CD-ROMs, Musical Instruments of the World and the Complete Encyclopedia of Baseball. He teaches as well at the International Guitar Seminar, Pt. Townsend Country Blues Week and Puget Sound Guitar Workshop.

Orville released 4 recordings in the 1990's: The World According to Orville (1990) Blueprint for the Blues (1998) Slide & Joy (1999) an all-instrumental dobro tour de force and Kings of Mongrel Folk (1997) with Mark Graham. He also appeared on 4 discs with the File' Gumbo Zydeco Band and produced Whose World Is This (1997) for Jim Page and Inner Life (1999) for Mark Graham. In the 21st century, he has released Freehand, a new Kings of Mongrel Folk disc, Still Goin' Strong, and been featured in the soundtracks of PBS' Frontier House and the Peter Fonda flick The Wooly Boys as well as the compilation cd Legends of the Incredible Lap Steel Guitar.
Reviews & Feedback 93/100 with 658 ratings

Mr. Johnson is very patience. He goes into just enough detail to help a beginner understand the importance of what you are learning.


A great understandable basic explanation of the CAGED system!!!


All of the above


All of the above!


All of the above. Great


All of the above. Love his lessons!


all three. awesome.


Also easy to understand and it is just what I needed :)))


althought you are the first teacher I'm chekking on the beginners section . I really like the way you teach .. so great, I am defenitly gonne sit these out . You are so calm , it kinda grows on me and helps me to concentrate .


been playing for many years on my own... love orvilles course.. filling in a lot of holes...


Instantly noticed decreased back pain and better posture from Changing the placement of the guitar when seated.


Clear and straight to the point.


You made it easy!


Easy to understand AND a nice teacher :-)


easy to understand takes his time teaching good review of the material.


Encourages a "you can do this" attitude and does suggest ways to work around common scenarios that might lead to self-disappointments; nice how the lessons have "didactic" as well a practice phase.


This is best video on open tunings I 've seen


Nice, easy to follow lesson with some great information, and learned a new technique (the bass run), which I look forward to practicing!


Very interesting ideas. I like it.


Good explanation of how to find the notes to use for the base run. Very helpful and adds to playing without adding a ton of complexity. Great way to sound more accomplished.


Good foundational information to chew on.


good lesson on runs


Good little strumming routine. I think I can use that in different situations. Thank you


Good Stuff


Great content, thank you!


Great explanation of chord changes


great instructor.


Great lesson. Well presented; logical, reasonable, effective teaching.


Great lesson. I needed some new fingerpicking ideas.


Great straightforward lesson easy to understand. Much appreciation sir!


Great teacher, easy to understand, I like the way he presents the lessons.


Very clear. Easy to follow. Want to see what other courses he teaches.


Great teacher. Perfect pace, clear instruction


great teaching, CAGED system can look complicated but this lesson reinforced my knowledge.


Great underpinning of technique with invaluable usable theory. Also Orvile is fantastic in conveying fairly abstract ideas. More Orville please


Really helpful, thanks


His explanations were very understandable!


I believe i will be able to progress in my learning.


I could select other radio buttons too


I feel like I'm finally getting this


I like his age!


I liked the teacher, he was easy to understand, and to learn som new fingerpicking patterns is just what I needed. Jamplay is great :-)


I'm kind of an instructor surfer. Have taken a lot of lessons on JamPlay in search of the niche that I want to go back to and work on with intensity. This lesson, the walking base, I want to add to my tool bag. Mike (2 years strumming)


Interesting, already learned a better way with practicing chromatic scales from this very first lesson as well as "warming up the fingers / hand. Thank you Sir Orville.