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Deep River Blues Lesson – Jim Bruce Blues Guitar – How To Play Deep River Blues

Deep River Blues Lesson Deep River Blues guitar lesson First let’s take a look at the way that i
play Doc Watson’s Deep River Blues in performance, and on the street Learn Deep River Blues I’m going to approach this tuition in a slightly different way if you search n Youtube you’ll find two videos of Doc Watson playing deep River Blues. The first one, when he was younger
is flash and slick and the second one when he’s a little better older, is
a little bit more laid back I’m going to show you how play the introduction to the
the second video when he was a little bit older. The first thing to realize is that doc
Watson just used one finger. It’s amazing how he got the complicated
sound he did with just one finger but of course his thumb jumped around and helped out as
well. So first of all take a look at how doc
watson plays with his one finger. First of all, you’ll see both my hands in a split
screen and I’ll be playing slowly. That wasn’t too bad was it? In fact i missed out a couple of thumb
jumps section 2 and in the last section. Il just wanted to show how Doc used
his finger to get that nice effect. We’ll introduce the thumb jumps later in the video. let me show you what i mean by thumb jumb. This is how we transcribed and played the last
section. Now see how Docs thumb jumped across to
the treble strings and again at the right speed in the video doc made when he wasyounger his style was a little bit more
complicated and in fact when he sarts in E7 on the 5th fret he played this you see his finger moves in this way so at the end of this run, Doc pinches the fourth string and the third strig with his finger and thumb so we can approximate that sound by hitting that fourth sring quite hard with our thumb so that both strings sound like this also it’s quite tricky to get the three strings with a single finger so we can do one of two things We can either miss out the second string in this way or we can use two fingers in this way let’s take a look at the well-known
introduction to Deep River Blues. Here I am, ready to go. After I play it, we’ll look at the instruction. After posting that video, I had comets and questions about the thumb jumps and also what happened at the end of
the verse when Doc plays so that’s what we’re going to look at today. In the middle of the verse there’s as a little section like this where the thumb jumps across the strings slghtly out of time and makes a kind of syncopated beat. We’re going to take a look at this first and after this we’ll take a look at the end section. The end section goes like this … so we’re going to take look at what’s happening there. First of all let’s take a look at the thumb jumps that we see in Doc’s playing in the middle of the verse First of all, I’ll something
like normal speed Now let’s slow it down a little and take a look at the right hand again with the tablature and now for the left hand As you could probably detect I did miss out some of the thumb jumps and I used two fingers instead. Sometimes we have to do this because we can’t all play like Doc Watson. Bt at least can appreciate what these
guys did and incorporate some of the techniques into our playing. We can’t hope to copy all the old great guitarists because we don’t have enough lifetimes, but at least we can appreciate their genius. Now let’s take a look at the end thumb rolls I hope you enjoy that and I hope you find it useful Keep on pickin’! and i’ll see you again.

  • Merry xmas Jim.Your so right we can only hope to emulate in some manner these masters with the time given.Im sure this lesson will b valuable to people out there,tc sir.

  • Jim – you are amazing. Its about the closest I've heard to Doc's performances AND you do it with one finger! I just can't stop using all three fingers and you definitely lose something by deploying the extra digits. Still working through my Blind Blake DVD and strealing ideas off you for my performances. Keep em coming!

  • For the last 30 years I marvelled at how Doc could make his solo songs seem like duets. Now you tell me he only used one finger…Thanks for the lesson. I never thought I could play a Doc song. Terrific video.

  • I never get tired of watching this video lesson. I've learned so much from it and Jim's other lessons over the years. Can't thank him enough for gifting us this lesson. Thanks again, Jim (and again and again!!)

  • Jim I have listened to this video until i hear it in my sleep ! but i just cant seem to get the rhythum down. it just doesnt " sound" right…….
    the challenge seems to be that there are six notes and it sounds like there are 5 when you play it? what in the world am i doing wrong?

  • excellent layout of a lesson video, well executed and very understandable, this is the was guitar lesson should be. Nice work.

  • hi jim i wonder if you could help me ive watched your vids and you seem like a very nice problem is im playing im a king bee in the style of robert d tuning with capo on third fret do you know which harmonica key goes with this would it be Bb.there is a vid of robert playing im a king bee on youtube.thanks for your help cool blues by the trying to learn your doc watson deep river blues as well.great lessons.thanks

  • Hey, I would like to say thank you for taking your time to post this. This has really helped me a lot. I started learning this 2 years ago and gave up. I found your video and its a inspiration. Thank you!

  • Sorry about this late reply – I know squat about harmonica keys I'm afraid, so cant' help you. Maybe pose the question ot one of the harmonica channels?

  • Hi Danny – I'm really pleased it's been some use – thanks for taking the time to comment.


  • ok jim thanks for your know i never realised that doc watson was blind.he is even more amazing than i thought.i would love to live my life like yours traveling around playing my must be great.

  • re: traveling around – yes, I like it overall, but you only ever hear about the good stuff …


  • tell us about the bad stuff too it would be interesting to know.i really want to start busking only in a small way im not good enough yet in my own oppinion ive been told im good enough but im just lacking the confidence i can play blues none stop round and round but it gets a bit samey.not sure id get away with that.ive watched alot of busking documentarys and i enjoyed yours the most it was good seeing what goes into your day.meeting people and helping the less fortunate.and the playing aswell

  • Hi Jim, thanks for this wonderful lesson, it really helped me to match this fantastic Doc Watson piece. I had some difficulties learning this piece but I am trying everyday to better my approach under your guide. In my opinion yours are the best lessons on Youtube, I really like your teaching approach. Thanks a lot from Italy!

  • Yep – Vintage VE 300 (under $200) voted best Parlor under $1000 by Acoustic Guitar Magazine and Martin 000X1 (about $500) – that's what I play, being a poor musician and all … only the top is wood, the rest is man-made, but don't let that fool you. it's Martin through and through and a joy to play.

    I reckon guitars over $1000 aren't worth the bother for the 'nicer' sound you get. Take a look at Sam Chatmon and others playing old Stellas and Ekos.



  • I have been wanting to learn this for awhile, but could not find a good tab or how – to video. Your presentation is very well done, and you have analyzed the piece in painstaking detail, which helps for clean, clear playing (if you don't get every note right, it becomes muddy). I played classical guitar for decades, by the way, and if any of them think this is easy, they should try learning to play it as well as you do.Thanks

  • Thanks so much for leaving comments. Checkout my complete lessons pack here

  • Thanks for sharing, so let me return the favor, if you don't already know it. I agree, Doc's playing has an elusive quality.The Smithsonian has issued a disc called "The Watson Family", which documents the rich Appalachian tradition, that gave us Doc. In one, video, he says that: "Folks in my church sang without vibrato, yet some of those mountain people had voices like you wouldn't believe," Maybe that elusive feeling embodies a long history. Check out Watson Family:"House Carpenter"

  • Wow Jim !!!  that is what i have been searching for the right way to play it Doc style .  I have a question i noticed he simplifies it while he's singing the verses and then goes back to tricky picking it , do you sell the entire TAB for the song from beginning to end ??  I would like to see on TAB what he's doing all the way thru if possible .  Thanks a ton from Texas for giving me a reason to wear out another set of strings keep up the good work .  Nice job 🙂

  • Real good job Jim.  Must have took forever to do this.  Thanks. I been pickin for 45 years.   It took me forever to learn finger rolls using 3 fingers and the thumb. It's hard to do only one!!!  HAHA.  Like you say.  Incorporate your own style.  Good thing about geetar is that you can always learn and practice. 
    Thanks for doing this.   Have a good 2014
    Jeff McDermott  

  • Thanks for this video. I picked up a whole lot, I don't have the patience to get it note for note but its a very helpful tutorial.

  • Thanks for this lesson… always loved Doc Watson…and figure playing the guitar without learning a song or two by him….is just an injustice to the man. 

  • You have been most thorough in this video and I thank you for that. Perhaps it is just a bit silly to try and copy every last nuance that any of the greats actually play. Surely getting the flavour is just as important. Very intersting video. Thank you.

  • Bonjour est Bonsoir a toutes et a tous :

    Tout d'abord. Sachez-que moi même..joue un peut de tout ( Guitare ) :
    alors juste un Grand Merci. D'avoir crée..cette vidéo musicale…sincèrement : ( Aime-Bien ) 🙂

  • Great lesson!! I love how you don't spend too much time on each section allowing us to just pause and the section we want or just let the video keep playing

  • Wow.  That's the most amazing instruction video I've ever seen.  I hope I find more.  As it happens, I'm making a retirement project of going back to my folk/blues guitar work.  First song that emerged was Deep River Blues.  This time around there's all this great instruction on the web.  I thought I'd found everything.  Now I see that I'd missed the fine detail, and you've got every nuance right here.  You're a natural teacher, and the camera work is amazing.  I'm off to your website to see what other gold is there.

  • My Goodness there was a lot time studying Docs style , and as Doc would ,,"and a fine job you done son" I Think Doc would be proud

  • Hey Jim, I don't feel comfortable criticizing your arrangement, let alone Doc Watson's, so I'll just mention a minor change that works for me. Section 2, first bar, last note. You show it as an open 4th string. I know a D should fit in an E7, but I just find this note a clunker. And the more I hear it, the worse it gets. I prefer to play 3rd string, 1st fret (G#). It's the same note used in Section 6, first bar: 4th string 6th fret (G#).

    Anyhow, it works for me. You pickers out there can decide for yourselves.

  • I can't believe it, but I just found SHEET MUSIC for Deep River Blues, with the full Guitar Part in TAB and Staff plus melody and words.  I haven't played it yet, but the Guitar arrangement looks like the real pickin' thing, and it's nearly identical to Jim's.   There's 8 pages, and it seems to have music for each verse, which I presume is the alternate parts and Variations Jim mentioned.  Only $1.99 US for instant PDF download.

  • At some point, Doc started using different lyrics for the refrain line "Let the waves drive right on, let the waves just sweep along."  He sings "Let the River Rise and Fall, let the waves ???"  I can't quite make out that little bit.  Can anybody help?I never liked the original words, and Doc's seem much better..

  • You've earned a new subscriber! You're a great player and these videos are very professional. Always wanted to play this song. Do you do any John Fahey stuff too?

  • Jim I'm a Fan, I've been working on your lessons "From Texas to the Delta" (couldn't keep using your site without supporting) Thank You!~ this is Great, I'm 65 and keep challenging myself, now I'm finger pickin stuff I listen to back in the 70's. Who said an Old Dog can't learn New Tricks???

  • Thanks so much for this one buddy, you are English right? I'm from Yorkshire and your accent sounds very familiar to me but I can't pinpoint it

  • absolutely wonderful could i ask for some help in my instruction. I'm trained to read information biased on muscle movement. Any way i could get you to show me your left hands shapes without the guitar. I know i may be asking a lot but it would help accelerate my personal process

  • This is great! This video is a huge help, better than guitar tabs online. Nice job thanks! this tune takes a while to learn.

  • Hey Jim, great lesson, I've been wondering what he was playing, the tabs are straight on point. Thanks a lot. -Max

  • Thank you very much for this soulful and very respectful lesson, so carefully crafted and presented. Cheers, mate, from the Great White North!!

  • That was really great and well explained. I’m mainly a guitar player but I also play some 5 string banjo. I learned a banjo version first and now I’ll be working on this. Thank you so much!

  • Your playing is exquisite, and the instructions that are here are great. I just wish it were a start to finish note for note thing because it seems there is a lot left out. Still the best I've found on this song, but I have to admit it is frustrating putting the pieces together in order, especially when some of them seem to be missing. Ah, well – at least I'm not having to do it from a record like you did way back when.

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