Play Guitar Like Eric Johnson

In this lesson, we are checking out three guitar licks in the style of the Texas blues rock giant, Eric Johnson. His style is unique and special. Emotive chords, speedy pentatonics and a musical blues background all add to his modern sound.

Eric Johnson Guitar Example 1 – Chord

Eric Johnson is a master of interval skipping. This chord progression shows how he would take a normal progression in F#m and add flavour with both string skipping, and hybrid picking. As mentioned in the video, try using two downstrokes , then a pluck with your middle finger on this progression.

Eric Johnson Guitar Example 2 – Technique

Odd note pentatonic groupings are one of Eric Johnson’s specialities. ‘Quintuplets’ or five note groupings are a firm favourite. This guitar lick uses positions 1 ‘E shape’, position 5 ‘G shape’, and position 4 ‘ A Shape’ of the F#m pentatonic. I use the word ‘un-i-ver-si-ty’ to help me count each five note group. Eric also loves wide intervals, and shows this with three F# root notes, and a wide vibrato’d bend.

Eric Johnson Guitar Example 3 – Guitar Lick

In this guitar lick, we are using the F# Hindu pentatonic. Despite its fancy sounding name, it is very similar to the normal minor pentatonic. The only difference being that the minor 3rd’s (of the minor pentatonic) are raised up to become major thirds (from A – A# here). I recommend taking your normal minor pentatonic blues licks, and adapting them to fit perfectly over dominant 7th chords, using the scale shown below.

Eric Johnson Guitar Example 4 – The Hindu Pentatonic Scale

Here is the scale used for the example above. It works perfectly over F#7.

Recommended listening

For classic Eric Johnson style guitar licks, I recommend buying the album “Ah Via Musicom.” My favourite track on that album being “Cliffs Of Dover.”

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Guitar Lesson Video Transcription

Hey YouTube, Simon here once again for Fundamental Changes. Today we’re going to check out the style of Eric Johnson, one of my personal heroes. I really think you might enjoy these. They might be a little bit more technical than the last few. Let’s have a look at those.

All right guys, Example 1, as you’re probably becoming very aware of in  these series revolves around a chord, or in this example, revolves around a chord progression. Now, Eric Johnson does a lot of beautiful rhythm playing stuff, so I’m just taking 1 of his techniques today.

The technique of that is to take the 3 main notes of whatever chord it is you’re working on, pick them with down-down-middle finger. It’s kind of like a little form of hybrid picking. The examples we’re looking at today are all around F sharp. First 2 are minor then the 3rd on is around a dominant 7.

This example here, we’re going through F sharp minor, then I go through a passing chord: A, B minor, C sharp minor D, E, F sharp minor again. That’s your first octave, and you’ll be picking, as I said, this down-down-middle finger all the way, and then the 2nd octave, we do most of it in the same way right up high. Then we end up with a bend at the 17th fret of the 2nd string. Remember, down-down-middle finger when you pick this.

Let’s have a look at that one.

[guitar playing]

Example 2 today, as always, is a technique. Today we’re looking at the technique of quintuplets, or groupings of 5 in the pentatonic. Now, Eric Johnson loves this. We’re quite used to groupings of 2, 3, 4, and often 6. Groupings of 5 can feel quite difficult to get used to.

I like to use the word UNIVERSITY. You can use any 5- syllable word. When you’re playing this through, UNIVERSITY, UNIVERSITY, UNIVERSITY. The end of it ends with 3 root notes across different octaves. Eric Johnson likes to do this, and then a fat, chunky bend at the 17th fret.

Get used to these groupings of 5. Try it in your normal pentatonics instead of doing 2s, and 1-2-3-4-5, 1-2-3-4-5, 1-2-3-4-5, or UNIVERSITY, UNIVERSITY, etc.

Let’s look at that lick now.

[guitar playing]

Example 3 today we’re looking at a lick in the style of. Today we’re looking at a lick that revolves around the F sharp dominant 7th chord, which is your 2nd fret of your bar chord, with an E shape minus your little finger.

The scale used with this is the F sharp Hindu pentatonic, which is a fancy name, but is your normal minor pentatonic that we all know and love, but all the notes of the flat 3rd on the minor 3rd, have been moved 1 fret to become major 3rd, or A sharp, A2 A sharp. This lick has a very Eastern flavor using some little neat bends, hammer-ons and pull-offs, all up around the 14th fret. It also has quite a sort of Jeff Beck style to it too, sort of a double value in there too.

Hope you enjoy it. I’ll see you next time for more videos.

[guitar playing]

Hi everyone, thanks for watching these tips and tricks on Eric Johnson. I really hope you got something from it. As I always say, go and check out Joseph’s awesome website Fundamental changes, and go and check out my YouTube channel, SDP guitar, where I offer free guitar bite-sized guitar videos, with tabs as well. Check that out.