David Serafine Austin TX
Just want to say 'thank you' for doing what you do. I have
purchased each of your rev Gary Davis lessons. Your teaching
style is fantastic and I have progressed as a guitarist thanks
to those lessons. My fave lessons so far are ' penitentiary
blues' and your lesson on big bill broonzy's ' shuffle rag'
has me mesmerized...I love it!
Hope to see you live sometime and thanks again for helping
me learn the blues!
Mike Frederickson Shorewood MN
I am writing to thank you and to let you know how helpful
your various teaching materials have been for me. In addition
to owning all your CD’s, I have also purchased almost all
you DVD’s. These DVD’s have been so inspirational to me and
have helped my playing immensely. In addition to learning
the material, I feel like I am learning how to learn and feel
much more able to identify chord progressions and pick music
off of records and also improvise more competently. Your teachings
and obvious love for this music has been truly inspirational.
Richard Nelson Butte MT
Have you ever transcribed "You Got to go Down" and
if you can you tell me where to find it. I can kind of make
it out, but have trouble figuring out where the licks start,
etc.. Thanks and keep up the good work. You have certainly
changed my life with your DVd lessons. Whenever our 8-month
old kid cries, I play "Children of Zion" and
that cheers him right up.
John Schwab, Bethesda, MD
I heard you for the first time at the UNC event to honor Rev.
Gary Davis. I can't begin to tell you how much I appreciated
your music and your stories, and I think you were the only
one of the three performers who truly bought into the purpose
of the gathering. Your music was sublime. Thanks for keeping
the Reverend's lamp trimmed and burning.
Jim Denton, Texas
Loved your lesson on "Lonesome Road Blues" Ernie!!
Just love how you sweeten your lesson with how learning certain
measures or licks will get you into heaven.....very colorful
I've reached the point in my acoustic blues guitar playing
are just too few surprises any more so this lesson was a
discovery for me!! Thanks!
Do you have a separate DVD course available that caters
specifically to the advancing blues guitarist and interjects
cool unusual licks, vamps, phrases and passages into our
There are plenty of great songs in some of the other DVDs--Lightnin',
Mance Lipscomb, Gary Davis etc. I recommend the new Broonzy
or the guitar arrangements of Louis Armstrong and Bix Biederbecke.
Indispensable is the CAGED series for learning basic music
and fretboard for guitar. Available at www.erniehawkins.com
Nick Newcastle Upon Tyne, England
I'd like the guitar tab to one of Rev Gary Davis songs - Come
see me sometime.
I don't have the tab fore that. It is played in the key of
F, as I recall. We could do a skype lesson and I can show
the basics to you.
Leslie Robins U.K.
Would you recommend your CAGED DVD series for learning to
play chord progressions and runs to popular, modern songs?
I would recommend the Caged for basic music and for getting
around the guitar neck. It will make everything easier. The
chord progressions taught are blues and circle of fifths.
R.M. McDonell Vancouver BC
Just got your Lightning Hopkins lesson and am amazed at the
incredible beauty of it. I think I had only heard some poor
late recordings and wrongly thought he was simply all about
a Texas shuffle. Now, instead of trying to get some complicated
syncopation of Blind Blake just right, I am really enjoying
learning to play those phrases and leaning on the spaces of
Come Back Baby and Sugar on My Mind. Absolutely amazing lines.
Thanks so much. Markos Greece
I received your DVD's about Lightnin' Hopkins' guitar. There's
a saying: "If you have a good word to say,don't keep
it to yourself". Following this I congratulate for your
work. The fact that you are sharing your knowledge and the
joy of playing the blues with the rest of us, like Fred McDowell,makes
you a TRUE bluesman. Keep up the good work!
Joe Morita Brooklyn NY
I have a number of your instructional DVDs and am a big
fan of yours - thanks for keeping this music alive, and
also for helping guitarists like myself.
I recently got a 12-string guitar, and my favorite Blind
Willie McTell song is Travelin Blues. Can you give me any
tips on this song? I think it might be in G tuning, mainly
because of the slide. Any help would be appreciated, and
if you're working on another Blind Willie DVD, this would
be my first request!
William Pardee Davis CA
I'm enjoying working on the RGD songs.I am having trouble
getting my thumb around to the bass notes – I'm playing on
an old Gibson 12-string that sounds great but has a big neck.
It looks like Reverend Davis played one of those as well –
did he often use a 12-string?
He loved 12-strings, they all had big necks, it didn't seem
to slow him down. You might want to check out other guitars
for their necks though. That Gibson 12 has a huge neck.
Whinin' Boy received two Indie Award nominations
and won the award for a cover of Big Bill Broonzy's Shuffle
Frank Chirico Bronx NY
You are a great musician and teacher. The one song on Whinin'
Boy that haunts me is his adaptation of "Vicksburg Blues"-any
chance of finding out the key he uses so I can attempt to
Vicksburg is played in E, tuned down to, I think, D. Shuffle
Rag on the same CD just got an Indie award for best cover
Tim Wenger Loomis CA
I have been enjoying Big Bill Broonzy, getting licks from
Guitar Shuffle and Oh Yes. The only "problem" I
have is when I put Ernie on while I do my Nordic Track workout,
I have so much fun watching and listening that I track myself
to a frazzle! Thank you for another batch of wonderful performances,
instruction and history
Greg Hulsebos Holland MI
I found your instructional recordings of Rev. Davis exceptional.
They took me further in that style of playing than I thought
possible. Made the music very accessible. Thanks again, I
really appreciate your efforts. Dan Felsen Sandy UT
You can't imagine how pleased I was to see Broonzy and Lightnin'
come out. I have been looking for a tab for Lightnin's "Needed
Time" for years. I found one, but it is pretty untrustworthy.
All tabs and tab writers are not created equal! When I get
a tab from Ernie, I can be sure it will give me what I want
to learn. Without his DVD's I would be nowhere. As it is,
I am pretty fantastic, for me, that is! I have far exceeded
what I ever thought I could do.Thanks a million.
Paul Seer Tulsi Nation Music
I'm playing a lot of the Reverend's music on my D15 Martin
learned from your videos. I just can't find strings to hold
up to the Thumb and Finger style of playing. G strings busting
always at saddle constantly. When playing intense stuff like
Twelve Sticks, sometimes it's busting after less then 2 hours
of play. Then the D string goes. Can you suggest a string
brand that might be a little tougher? Right now I'm using
John Pearse and Deadario.
I use Martin SP. I don't break as many strings as I used to.
It seems like I play old strings as long as possible. I really
don't like new strings. I don't ever remember the Rev breaking
a string. That said, G strings seem to be the most fragile.
Jonathan Tucker Byron GA
Was wondering if you could offer any advice on which Martin
guitar is best for Acoustic blues. Is the OM model ( 000 )
or Dreadnought best?
Depends on individual guitar. The guitar that speaks to you
is the best. Dow Bonney Lake WA
I just wanted to say what an amazing job you did on the Mance
dvds. Thank you for sharing your wealth of knowledge with
us less fortunate players, I've been trying for awhile to
get that Mance sound and rhythm...thanks for bringing a smile
to my face.
I'm BIG into Jerry Reed....I play banjo and I have a few gut
string classicals I play like Jerry did. I recently acquired
an old Harmony 1203 like Mance had and I don't know what kind
of strings to put on it. I use the lightest/thinnest flamenco
strings that I can find LaBella 820s for my Reed style. I
tried putting the lightest gauge steel strings on this 1203
and I don't think it sounds too great. Do you remember what
kind of strings Mance used or do you have any recommendations
for what strings would be best for the Texas blues on that
I think you should try regular acoustic light gauge strings.
Sometimes,with Mance and Lightnin' I hear an unwound G string,
I love those old Harmonies. I recently filmed a Big Bill Broonzy
DVD. He is a master of the single, steady base like MANCE.
C.J. Wire Boulder CO
I have been learning a lot of great stuff from the Lightnin'
dvd. I was wondering if that is a Hummingbird you are playing,
and what gauge strings you use, and how high the action is
on your guitar.
It's a 1950 J-50, medium action. Wm Drean Aston PA
I've been working on and off on Delia on your one Rev Gary
Davis DVD--sometimes I just load it in to listen to the performance
though, it's fantastic. Very weary seeming from the tragedy
witnessed and affecting. Have you recorded a version similar
to the one I've been watching?
Yes, on "Mean Little Poodle". Most of the guitar
part is from Cocaine. Roger Peak Louisiana
I am curious to know if any of your dvds cover certain Hopkins'
songs that I am familiar with which I heard on a recording
with " Santa Fe Blues" . They are Lonesome Dog Blues,
Tell Me Pretty Mama, Give me back that wig, Sittin Down Thinkin,
Dont keep my Baby long, Aint it lonesome, Jake Head Boogie
I'm certain that " Santa Fe.." style covers most
of these songs, but others like Lonesome Dog, Tell Me Pretty
Mama, Jake Head seem quite different from the slow blues
in A style - I think...
I have two Lightnin' DVDs. The first has films of the songs,
the second is from his early work. You can find the songs
listed on my website and you can order from there. They
pretty much cover all of his different styles and keys.
Safe to say that these songs will enable you to learn just
about anything else in his repertoire. I also give Skype
lessons if you prefer
Ken Dagovetz Las Vegas
I'm trying to learn how to play guitar like Lightnin'. Is
your dvd (the guitar of lightnin), the same material in
your new texas blues dvd of lightnin. Which one would be
better to start with? I saw him perform many years ago at
the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium with the canned heat and
albert collins. That was quite a show.
Probably the first one with films is best, though I ask
you to tune to the film. Some people don't like that, in
which case try the second.
Mark Eldridge Wichita Kansas
I was wondering if you're ever going to teach the song "What
You Gonna Do" on dvd ? I love that song and listen to
it often on your artistry dvd. I love your music and have
quite a few of your dvds. Wish you could make it out to the
midwest sometime, as I would love to see you live.
It will be on the next dvd.
Terry Tranter Australia
I saw your rendition of "What you Gonna Do" on youtube.
It is really good. I like the driving force behind it. I'm
trying to play it but I can't define the chords you are holding.
It seems to be in C but then again it looks like G I think
it is the circle of fifths but there is something else. Your
version is the ultimate expression of the ragtime guitar genre.
It's in G (G E A D G G G7 C Eb7) Changes keys to C. Don't
have TAB for it. I play it on The Guitar Artistry DVD.
Bryon Onisko Sebastopol CA
I can't thank you enough for your excellent series on Mance.
Your teaching is fantastic!!! You have brought me so much
joy, explaining Mance in a way that has removed the mystery
from his playing.
Greg Hulsebos Holland MI
Just wanted to say thank you for the care that you took with
preparing the instructional set on the gospel music of Rev.
Gary Davis. I've always been awestruck by his playing but
didn't have a thread on how to approach playing his music.
I've had the good fortune to play an opening song for our
Interfaith Congregation each Sunday and now I feel Rev. Davis,
music is accessible to me. Your instruction is great! Very
understandable and concise. Eyjolfur Gudmundsson Iceland
Thank you so much for a wonderful time in Bar Harbor! I´m
still absorbing all the new stuff. The CAGED system is a great
help and now the guitar neck is much easier to understand
Phil Elliott Tasmania Australia
Just want to say thanks for putting Whinin’ Boy together as
a production. Track six motivated me to drop a line .In particular
I love that big fat low frequency horn - it seems to really
get my speakers pumping. To coin the Southern vernacular it
may be a "Tooba" but I live a sheltered life and
have never heard that one before. Also love the clarinet.
Not too much I don't like on this one. Bill Beck Tallahassee FL
I an enjoying the journey of discovery through "The Gospel
Guitar of Reverend Gary Davis" and "Rags and Minstrel
Tunes". I have become an intense fan of both Gary Davis
and you. Your clear explanations of Davis' style make it possible
to go beyond merely learning to imitate him in the song taught.
Through your process of teaching some of his favorite licks
and how they may be combined, you make it possible for me
to go on to other songs of his that are not specifically addressed
in the video. To say that your mastery of Davis' (and others')
style along with your performing skills and academic achievements
is impressive would give new meaning to the word 'understatement'.
There is so much more that I want to learn and your instruction
is having a large impact on my ability to do that. With the
technical skills and insights that you have taught, I am limited
now only by my ability and determination.
I have finally come to recognize that the aim is not to play
it exactly as he played it. I want to extend my thanks to
you for your prodigious effort in making this music accessible
to those of us who had other interests during the 60's, when
the masters were available to learn from. You have earned
your place among them. Please continue to produce instructive
materials for those of us who desire to learn from the past.
Jon Kinnaman Tuftonboro NH
Can't say enough good things about the new Lightnin' DVDs.
Have learned so much about his music, about the caged positions
and have credible open-mike tested versions of Bad Luck, Sugar
and Sante Fe to prove it. Come Back Baby is in the wings.
And. Finally. Got the turnaround on Candyman. Now consistently
landing on the one. That one had me vexed for a long time
but came together this weekend.
Your generosity as a teacher is much appreciated. So glad
you are carrying on the legacy of Rev. Davis and Mr. Sam.
Charles Young New York City
An interview titled: In the Church of Reverend Gary Davis,
Ernie Hawkins is St. Peter http://thiscantbehappening.net/node/144Phil Allen
Review of the Stonington Maine concert posted on Weenie Campbell:
"All in all it was a terrific night of the music we love.
Perhaps the highlight for me oddly enough was Ernie playing
a song I bet everyone on this site plays without thinkin’
twice, the elusively simple Cocaine Blues. In its simplicity,
the purity of its architecture, its semi-modal trance inducing
mental captivation, it is one of the true masterpieces of
the genre, timeless, evocative, and extremely beautiful, least
ways as played by Ernie."
Glenn Pradzinski Chicago IL
I just wanted to say thank you for taking the time to share
your knowledge of the Rev. Gary Davis's music. Your love for
the great Reverend shows on each DVD. I have almost all of
them now and enjoy your lessons very much. I have only been
playing Cinni Slow Rag for about 2 months now, but I am completely
in love with this style of playing. Keep the DVDs coming.
William White Waynesboro VA
I ordered that super excellent RGD gospel 4 dvd set that was
released several years. I find all of the videos that Ernie
has done to be quite good, both as instruction and as entertainment.
I must share with you that I think the RGD gospel set is one
of those situations where what Ernie Hawkins has done is literally
"priceless." One of the best guitar instructional
videos that has ever been made, if not the best. What Ernie
captured may well have been lost forever, if he had not done
it. Ben Casteel Tallahassee FL I just want say that your life's work is truly appreciated.
After spending countless years diddling with the TAB that
Stefan published in the 70's/80's and gaining small bits and
pieces over time...well, the DVD lessons you took the time
to create made it possible for me to touch the music that
I would otherwise probably never got close to. I have never
really understood why this music thrills me, I grew up in
a classical music family, I just know that it does and I was
meant for it. Sharing what you have learned from RGD, L. Hopkins
and other great musicians changes peoples lives. Paul Davies Australia Your new Lightnin Dvd
is brilliant. Its great to hear you sing and your teaching
style is relaxed and fun. You really show and explain how
much skill these players had, and the respect you show is
there to be seen. Gert Spierenburg Kenya
I would like to ask you which thumbpicks Lightnin' Hopkins
was using. There are many thumpicks on the market but I'm
not sure which ones to take. I was thinking of the White plastic
Dunlop medium or large. Which one do you use while teaching
the songs? I'm playing a Gibson L-1 custom which I bought
this year in the Netherlands, I love the guitar and the style
really suits. At this moment I'm living in Kenya and its very
hard to get the right stuff for my playing but I hope your
advise can help me to order the things from Europe or the
US. I also would like to ask if you have tabs for "the
Black Cat BLues", I have found this song on Long way
from texas and asked Sean from fingerstyle blues if could
help me with it but he doesn't have it. A song I'm doing now
is "My grandpa is old too" which comes close to
it with simular riffs.
My last question, Iv been told that Ernie Ball Earthwood medium/light
are good strings to use for fingerpicking. Do you think those
strings are worth it to buy?
I generally use the equivalent to a Dunlop large thumbpick.
Try them and use what's best for you. The Ernie Ball's should
be fine, again what's best for you. Don't have tab for Black
Cat. It's in key of E. Think about a skype, or better, iChat
for a lesson, I can show you the basics. It's tricky.
Jeff Barton North Carolina
I am looking for and instructional video (guitar) for Rev
Gary Davis tune Samson and Deliah. I have downloaded the tabs
for the tune that you had out there on the web, but I am looking
for some instruction on the tune. Does one of your CD's cover
I teach it on The Gospel Guitar of RGD. I play it on my first
CD "Blues Advice" Both are available from my website.
Bob Frantz Hagerstown MD
I really enjoyed your performance in Hagerstown. My favorite
was the last, Root Hog or Die, and in particular Joe Dallas's
part (as I am also a trombonist.)
I am generally a big band jazz player, but in a never ending
effort to improve my blues, I am studying melodies, counter
melodies and comps and was wondering if it was possible to
get the Root Hog or Die chart (if I understand correctly from
your CD and YouTube video it is your arrangement of a Harlem
Hamfats tune.) At the very least I would love to play the
bone part (Joe has a wonderful smooth style.)
yeah, Joe's great.
Em / / /
B7 / Gdim,B7 Em (x2)
Am Am Em Em
Am Am Em Em,B7
repeat 1st 8
Troy Miller Prince Edward Island
great thing about your amazing teaching of the CAGED system
is that every lesson I've tried since has been drastically
easier to get a grasp of and the understanding comes so
much faster. i.e. - I can learn more music. Thanks for enriching
my life so
I have all of your lesson dvds. I would consider myself an
intermediate level fingerpicker. I have a suggestion. As I
do not mind tuning the guitar to match Lightning’s pitch,
most players I have found would rather stay in 440 pitch or
use a capo to get close to the sound Lightning had. I was
wondering if you were planning on keeping Lightnin disc 2
in pitch for the most part. I think more people follow your
Lightnin covers when playing along with your dvd then follow
Lightning’s footage when practicing.
The new Lightnin DVDs are at pitch. I wish people would tune
to him and play along--there's no substitute for the real
thing--but I know that isn't realistic. Of course one option
Caleb Vancouver BC I just bought your instructional dvd of Rev Gary
Davis gospel guitar. I was just wondering in Davis’ picking
style, will the thumb on the right hand never do up strokes?
Whether that be for strumming or picking lines. Also, got
any advice on choosing thumb and finger picks?
Ernie I think his thumb always moved down, finger
up. Experiment and find the picks you like, at least that's
my (blues) advice.
Terry New Zealand I bought your instructional
DVD and am currently learning Statesboro and Come on Round
to my House. I've been playing for about 7 yrs. I can play
reasonably OK on 6 string, but find it difficult on my old
1970's Yamaha 12 string. The reason being that the string
pairs seem to be very wide apart, and its difficult to get
a clean picking. I don't use picks, and prefer bare fingers.
I noticed on your DVD that the pairs on that Black Guitar
are very close together which I guess makes it easier for
fingerpicking. The consensus opinion on the various forums
is that they shouldn't be too close otherwise the pairs
will rattle against each other. For my thinking that seems
to be a bit odd if you are fingerpicking the pairs any way.
Would it be advisable to move them together, and how close
do you recommend.
I think that you want them as close as you can get them
without rattling. Go online and look up 12-string guitar
repair and see what you can find. If the guitar is hard
to play, you might need to lower the action. You can look
it up, but it's complicated. Maybe you are handy. If not,
find somebody who knows what they're doing. The better set
up it is, the better it plays and sounds. Hence, more fun
Wolfgang Kalb Germany I love your guitarstyle and your music. I'm collecting
Blues record, so I bought all your great CDs.
My Question: What's the meaning of "whinin' boy"?
I'm not a native English speaker, therefore it's not
easy to understand all lyrics right.
Ernie Hard to say. I changed the original spelling by adding
the "h". Maybe it was originally "Winding'
Check out the wonderful Jelly Roll Morton Library of Congress
recordings for a discussion
Gary Sellars Scotland
I play a lot of the Rev's music and notice I play much better
using thumb and middle instead of thumb index. I always seem
to favor the middle finger, i don't know why. I can play the
slower songs with the thumb, index pattern but when it comes
to the really fast Rev Davis rolls I play them much better
with thumb, middle. Have you ever heard of anyone else who
prefers to pick this way?
My feeling is that you should go with whatever is best, most
natural and comfortable for you as an individual. there isn't
a single right way to do any of this. Over the years I guess
I've seen everything.
By the way, it seems to me that the middle finger is stronger
Post Gazette http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10287/1094931-388.stm
Tribune Review http://www.pittsburghlive.com:8007/x/pittsburghtrib/ae/s_703465.html Peter Berryman
Whinin' boy is the best album I have EVER heard. Not since
a few cuts on Ry Cooder's Jazz album have I been so in love
with listening. This is great, great, great music!!! Oh, my,
goodness. Words fail me. Astonishing!
Jim Kownacki Pittsburgh PA "Whinin' Boy" is not a blues release and
so really is quite a departure for Ernie. It is great roots
based Americana and I think that his blues fans are going
to love it. This is Ernie's take on the old time band treatments
of what in my opinion is the most creative American music
ever. That would be the intersection of blues, roots &
jazz that thrived along the Mississippi from Basin Street
to Beale Street in the early 1900's. All of the arrangements
are by Ernie and they vary quite a bit in instrumentation
and style from tune to tune which really keeps the interest
up. The feel keeps changing but the era doesn't and it all
just flows together like the Mississippi.
I've heard very few more modern releases of this style
approach it in quality. Two of John Fahey's three orchestral
releases work similar ground pretty well. Like Fahey, Ernie's
arrangements of the brass and clarinet center around the
acoustic guitar and are sophisticated and flowing. But where
Fahey sticks to a more brash and tighter New Orleans shuffle
(which Ernie does approach on two takes of Jelly Roll's
Whinin' Boy and elsewhere), Ernie's reach is wider as he
opts to head up river to Memphis for some equally hot but
more rootsy and flowing stuff as well. Ry Cooder's excellent
"Jazz" LP works it from the smoother Jazz end,
but Ernie works it all a little more from the gut at the
intersection. Those who like Leon Redbone are going to love
this. It's like Leon found the band he was looking for.
This release has got stuff for everybody and Ernie serves
up a couple great original instrumentals too. RGD must be
smiling down upon the "Belong to the Band" hooks
that Ernie tucks into "Southbound Sneak" and the
meanest little blues poodle ever resurfaces as inspiration
for an infectious little tuba and uke ditty that just rolls
along unstoppably. For the blues purists, you get the classic
Ernie/Reisman guitar and harp duo on "Vicksburg Blues"
as well as on Broonzy's "Shuffle Rag". That's
not exactly blues of course, but Broonzy didn't exactly
limit himself that way either.
All in all, this is already one of my favorite CD's ever.
Every track grabbed me on first listen which almost never
happens. In some respects, I think that this is the music
that Ernie has been meant to play forever. Reverend Gary
Davis' music existed at this same nexus of styles and Ernie
has put in more time digging through and digesting it than
anyone. That takes a long time to percolate, and I really
think that we're going to be looking back on this as the
beginning of Ernie's greatest work.
Caleb Stine Baltimore MD
Your CAGED class was a perfectly timed infusion of energy
and clarity into my musical life. Going into Augusta, I was
hoping for some deeper understanding of the fundamentals of
music and some direction in my daily practice. Your elegant
explanation of CAGED, the arpeggios, and connecting runs gave
me that and more. For the first time, much of my grab-bag
knowledge of the guitar neck snapped together and I could
start to see how the neck lays out. Your focus on the 1-3-5
in all positions confirms my innate hunch that music is elemental
and infinite at the same time.
Finally, thank you for putting yourself so fully into the
class. I appreciate your sincerity and commitment. The discussions
about meaning and theology were intrinsic to the whole experience
for me. Thank you for your willingness to share those probing,
philosophical thoughts. I personally can't enter into the
world of music without bringing that deeper reality with
me, so it's very affirming to find kindred spirits.
I hope you realize how much you gave each one of us in
the class last week and how much we all appreciate it.
B. B. Wolfe Michigan Enjoy your playing and all. I was wondering did Blind
Willie McTell use finger and thumb picks? My approach has
been to use bare thumbs and fingers and was wondering if that
is doable with these styles.
I suspect that McTell did not use picks.
Just wondering if you give one-time lessons? I'm mostly a
5 string picker, but do some guitar work too.
Mike Kuehn Sheboygan WI
Somewhere along the line I got in the habit of wearing my
thumbpick pretty close to my knuckle, if not on it, and I
find that even Large thumbpicks only last so long before they
weaken and break due to stretching. I know you wear your thumbpick
in a similar position -- is there a trick you've found to
getting thumbpicks to last, such as heating and reforming,
or is dem jus the breaks? Or have you found a particular brand
that seems to fit better over the knuckle? I suppose it's
a trivial matter, but ...
Thanks, love your Facebook page!
They break after a while. I buy big Golden Gate picks by the
Davyd Stevens FL
I recently stumbled upon a box set of your Rev.Davis dvds.You
seem like such a cool person. I very much appreciate your
humility and intelligence. This has changed my life...it's
like I've been handed the key to a
magical kingdom. Thank you! Forever in your debt ....
Doug Eaton Cato NY
You have helped me discover music that makes me feel as if
I have finally come home. Every time I play
"There's a Table Sitting in Heaven," I think of
my father and that it was the last song I played for him.
You taught me that song. Rev. Davis taught it to you. Maybe
one day, I will get to pass on that
song. I can't be the only one who was listening for this music
but hadn't heard it before.
Ryan Fenno Charleston SC
How did Gary Davis tune his guitar, as in what was his usual
reference pitch? Tuning forks, pitch pipes? Perhaps even one
of his harmonicas?
I don't recall him tuning to anything. Never had a tuning
fork of pitch pipe. Just was in tune, though his high E tended
to be tuned a little flat, to modern ears.
Curtiss Coughlin, Longmont CO
I have listened to Makin' Whoopee on You tube and greatly
enjoyed it. I went to look to buy the tab from you but did
not see it. Are you selling it? One of the many things I like
about your style is the joy you have for playing. Thank you
Sorry Curtiss,don't have tab for it. Think about taking
a Skype lesson and I'll teach it to you.
Nick Dooley, Australia
Ernie blows me away with his time ~ he's really got that thing
that Rev Gary Davis used to say about playing the Guitar like
you are playing the Piano ~ every note has weight.
Dave Waxman, Long Island NY
I continue to use what I learned from you when I was in your
Oct. 2007 workshop at Fur Peace Ranch. And I've continued
to learn from the CAGED and Rev. Davis dvds. I always have
and always will love playing guitar, and I know that, with
your help, I'm enjoying playing even more.
Pete Bartlett, London
A big thank you for your help with getting my hands around
Gary Davis' guitar style. The gospel guitar dvds have been
a god send and completely changed the way I approach my playing.
Can't thank you enough.
I just wanted to check something with you... I was going to
buy your CAGED series of DVDs. Looks like there are 3 volumes.
I've also seen a double dvd version of this. Is this the same
3 series squeezed on to 2 discs, or is a slimmed down version
of the series?
Tthanks for the good words. For sure getting into Rev Davis'
music can be life changing. It's great when someone gets it.
I haven't heard anything about a double DVD version of CAGED.
Charles Morgenstern, Seattle WA
Is there a tab of the complete version of "Slow Drag"
that you play on You Tube? Thank you for the excellent ragtime
guitar playing and for keeping the standards high.
The tab accompanies the DVDs that I did on these, and, other
RGD songs. Check out the dvds for sale on my website.
I am now teaching private lessons online. You need a webcam
and ichat or skype. There is no fee for skype. The cost is
$60/hour or $35/half hour. For a trial lesson, I offer a $15
discount. Payment can be made on the order page of my website
via credit card or check. Email me if you have questions:
For the latest blues advice and videos, sign up on facebook:
See you there!
Bill Stritzinger Dallas PA
I have enjoyed and learned a lot from Ernie's Caged DVD's
1 and 2, and I know that the 3rd will be rewarding. Ernie
is a great teacher and musician, and when I watch the DVD's
again I seem to pick up some new information that I can use
for my guitar playing. It seems logical to me that the next
DVD to buy would be Ernie's Fingerpicking Arrangements of
Four Pop Standards.
Chuck Morrison Louisville KY
I just got your Lightnin Hopkins dvd and really like it. I
have been playing for about 4 years . First year or so learned
theory from an instructor. Been writing songs for the last
year and developing my ear more.
I saw you have a dvd on learning 5 positions to master the
fretboard. I am pretty comfortable with the entire neck but
thought that dvd may teach some positional stuff I have not
used? Do you think that is a good dvd for my level? I usually
use the root as a base or anchor on all 6 strings currently
and am pretty comfortable with those positions.
The dvd you are talking about is the CAGED dvd. It is a set
of three dvds, although you can start with the first one.
It is really helpful to all guitarists in my opinion. There
are many lessons in each dvd. The first one shows you how
to move everything up and down the neck and how to play a
blues progression in every key and every position. The others
expand upon this and get deeper into it. I think this is something
that can help all guitarists. It is money well spent considering
how much information is packed into it in and easy to learn
Monica Yasher Pittsburgh PA
phone interview with Ernie http://www.facebook.com/l/3763f;www.ameriblues.com/2010/03/interview-of-ernie-hawkins-by-monica.html Doug Healy Purcellville VA
I am having a hard time finding information on the song Dehlia.
Does you have a chord chart for his version? I see that Dehlia
is on the Blues Guitar dvd. I'll pick that up . Do you teach
it the same way you play it on Rags & Bones?
Yes I teach Delia on the Blues Guitar of Rev. Gary Davis the
same as I play it on my Cd Rags & Bones.
C / C / C / C
C F / C am / F / F
C / G / C / C
Ian Zack Brooklyn NY
What key is the Davis tune "Moon Goes Down"?
Key of A. Lots of similar runs to Twelve Gates
Charles Young New York NY Fingerpicking is my obsessive hobby and I'm a huge
fan of your teaching DVDs. You not only play the music about
as cleanly as it can be played, you've thought it through
for teaching purposes, which makes you part of a very small
minority of humans who can play it AND teach it. A lot of
great musicians have made really lame teaching DVDs, as you're
probably aware. An online music magazine asked me to write
a list of stuff I liked in the past ten years. Here it is:
http://www.lava-mof.org/ Dave Klyzek
I just wanted to tell you that you are a superstar and your
playing has inspired me. There isn't a day goes by that I
don't play at least one Rev. Davis song, thanks to you.
Rob Morin W. Townsend MA
Your personal teaching style is simply perfect to my needs.
I’m able to get through the videos without spending a lot
of time on the tabs as your verbal and visual instructions
are extremely clear. As with everything, the great ones
make it look easy. Using your effortless style, your renditions
and teachings of Gary Davis tunes are apparently true to
the art, and have the special feeling that can only be achieved
when someone has studied and developed over a long period
of time. It’s just not easy to replicate Rev G.D nor your
interpretation of his music. While I can get through the
mechanics, it is apparent that there is more to learn.
Here’s my problem. I’ve been a light finger picker forever,
and that’s 40 years of quiet playing with low action, ex
light strings, no finger aids. I did play back-up for fiddlers
for a few years in the 60’s, but that’s long ago, and I
just am not interested in playing with a flat pick again.
The RGD tunes and your interpretations seem to benefit from
finger picks, and I don’t want to cheat the music by playing
too soft. While I can appreciate that all music should be
to the taste of the listener, I am interested in your thoughts
about 2 things. First, the use of finger picks and their
importance to producing a realistic replication or interpretation
of the music. Second, the value of relearning the thumb
and one finger style of picking (with a little help from
another finger on occasion) in order to present RGD tunes
I think that if you have been playing one right hand style
for many years, you should probably stick with it. A friend
once remarked to me: "Your left hand is what you know;
your right is who you are." I think that in general,
you should not start trying to change "who you are".
That said, for RGD, the big thing is his right thumb. That's
what he uses most of the time. It defines his power and
rhythm. You don't necessarily have to use fingerpicks or
have a heavy right hand to do this. Just be aware of it
and work on it. Stay who you are and learn the song for
yourself and your style, and put your mind into your right
thumb. That's my two cents. Good luck, have fun.
Stuart M. Scotland
Can you offer any insight into Lightning Hopkins' muting on
the base strings, if he does in fact do this at all, particularly
on songs such as "baby please don't go". When he
performs this song it looks to me like he's not muting and
since he plays quite far up the neck it would be more of forearm
mute! When I play this song I am inclined not to mute since
I think it sounds better. However if he does in fact mute
I would try to improve on the sound I get when muting.
Lightnin' did no mute.
Mike Flagg, Washington DC
Can you help me track down a copy of the Rev singing Delia?
Also, do you know why he never recorded it in a studio,
as near as I can tell, and it's only on one obscure live
album that I can't seem to find anywhere? Did he consider
it too country? I enjoy the hell out of your records and
Look for a RGD CD called "Delia" from American
Archives, Leeds, England. The only info I have on this label
is: phone: 0532 742106 fax: 0532 786291
Maybe he didn't record it because it was singing the blues
and not gospel. I don't know.
Would the DVD lesson for Blind Willie McTell for 12 string
guitar also cover the same tunes and technique for 6 string
Yes, this would work for a six string also.
Bob Sieckman, Fresno CA
I just love the Lightnin' Hopkins video. Thanks for the
terrific lessons and for keeping this beautiful music alive.
Rege Behe Pittsburgh Tribune Review
If you pass Ernie Hawkins on the street, you'd never know
he's one of the best guitarists in the world. The mild-mannered,
unassuming Point Breeze resident has been cited by David Bromberg
and Jorma Kaukonen has one of the avatars of modern acoustic
Sam Arthur New Mexico
I have spent much quality time with your Willie McTell and
Gospel Rev. Gary instructional dvds. Thanks for the great
job on presenting this material. I am beginning/intermediate
level and started guitar late in life. I realize much of
what you covered of McTell's can be applied to dozens of
other songs of his, but with some I don't know where to
begin, like "Your Time to Worry" and "Cold
Winter Day". You have really enriched my life with
I have a version of Cold Winter Day on my first CD Blues
Advice. I think it is in C which I think is where McTell
played it, tuned low of course.
Erik Fisk Des Moines IA
Your lesson of Lightnin Hopkins' "Shining Moon"
turned what seemed beyond my abilities into something that
I now play regularly. I'm sure I'll end up buying all your
other blues DVDs. I think your are a great teacher on camera.
I've played guitar for 20 years and have been frustrated by
lack of progress. You have the whole concept of breaking these
songs down figured out.
Larry McCullough Woodbridge NJ Here
is a song I wrote for HazelLINKScott Nantes France I have gone through your CAGED dvds. I learned a
lot and liked them very much. I used to play mainly acoustic,
but now am faced with different opportunities of playing with
other bands electric guitar. I have a gretsch hollow body,
so the change is not physically too big, but my question is:
I'm trying to get out of the more classic alternating thumb
fingerpicking blues style, while still using thumb and finger
picks, I don't see myself as a flatpick shredder. What would
you suggest to someone who loves the rootsiness of the blues
yet would like to take it a bit outside?
Ernie You can try doing what I did playing electric guitar
in blues bands for many years. Use your fingers, either with
picks and a thumbpick or with whatever you find comfortable.
Just get to the point where you can develop some speed, tone
and soulfulness. I too am not very good with a flat pick so
I went that way. Listen to Freddie King. He finger picked
electric with fingerpicks and thumbpick or Gatemouth Brown
who just used his fingers.
Ernie Hazel, my beloved pit bull, moved on to the other
side today. She died at home with friends and family around,
some dignity intact and a farewell dinner. My heart breaks
Link to a picture of Hazel VIK I recently bought 4 of your dvds (bl---dy marvelous).
I saw the Reverend in 1963 when he toured here (repeat bl---dy
marvelous). All I need to know now is, where do I get the
surgery done on my left hand so that I play his fantastic
music. Thanks for the music!
Ernie Happily, the surgery is psychic. I think you can
get that done somewhere in the Philippines. That's where I
got it done. However, it's wearing off.
I am very sorry to hear about Marie Knight. She was the ultimate
trooper. I knew it was difficult for her at her age to give
it her all but she did. I feel really lucky I got to play
for her a little bit.
Chris Kidd I am trying to find a version of Police Dog Blues
in standard tuning. Do you have a DVD or tab of Police Dog
Blues in standard tuning?
Ernie The tab is in my tab book which is available for
sale on my web site. It is in standard tuning but it is substantially
different from Blake's. You can hear my version on my cd Blues
Advice and it is also up on my website as an MP3 file under
the description for Blues Advice.
Jas Caffrey Spring Valley MN
Just wanted to say thanks for all that you shared with me
over the past week (Guitar Intensives Bar Harbor Maine). You
were remarkably kind and generous with both time and talent.
I will be sure to suggest your DVD's to friends, students
Michael Hurst Joshua Tree CA
Thank you so much for making the Lightnin' Hopkins DVD. Your
voice and clear instructions have made it simple for me to
that's no mean feat. It is so easy to follow and you break
it up into
small segments that I can do over and over till they sink
after a few days that the lesson's were sticking and my guitar
was actually sounding like guitar playing. In doing things
this way I
am hearing the roots of songs that I had heard for years and
understanding how to play them. Just had to tell you thanks
for the great joy you have
brought me thru your DVD. Ryan Fenno Charleston SC
I love the material you share in "The Guitar of Lightnin'
Hopkins". I've learned a great deal and look forward
to diving into your other DVDs. I'm curious about the guitar
you're playing in that session. It looks like a J-45 but I'm
not familiar with headstock design.
It is a J45.
Greg Mace Australia
I just wanted to say that both of your CAGED Guitar System
DVD’s have been a real godsend for me.
You are a very good teacher and explain things well, clearly
My guitar playing is improving and I wish to thank you.
Joe Wilkie Oklahoma
I have my 12 string set up with mediums and I am tuned down
to C. I want to play some Spanish and Vestapol open tuned
songs, but I am not sure about the best approach.What pitch
are you in when you tune to Spanish, Eb? Do you tune to Spanish
If by Spanish you mean G tuning you would be in G flat. I
tune to the pitch that seems comfortable on the guitar, depending
on the gage of the strings. If it feels too taught, it might
not be good for the guitar and I bring it down a little bit.
If it is too slack I bring it up.
Ron Joos I recently bought the your Lightnin Hopkins DVD.
It's really a revelation. I can't tell you what a joy it
is to learn how to play like Lightnin'. I am having a bit
of a problem with the tuning. What tuning did Lightnin most
often play in? I also love the Mance Lipscomb dvds. You
are a real treasure to the blues community.
Lightnin played in standard for the most part, but was rarely
tuned to pitch. I decided to try to tune to his pitch so
that you could play along with him, which is important,
because his rhythm is so great. I'm not sure it was the
right decision for everybody. When I was learning, I always
had to tune to the record (or to the guitar player that
was in front of me from whom I was trying to learn). Nowadays
people have tuners. I suggest you try to tune to Lightnin,
it will train your ear, though it takes some patience. It
is worth it. Let me know how it turns out .
Richard Nelson Butte, MT I am just starting to launch into your Gary Davis
dvd. Do you know why Rev. Davis turned his truss rod cover
upside down on his J200? Thanks for making such a great
Ernie That's funny! Not a clue! When I was a kid I thought
that was the way it was supposed to be.
Doug Eaton Cato NY
Maybe you remember me from SAMW and the workshop you did a
year ago in
Rome NY, when you showed a group how to play "Table Sittin'
It meant a lot to me that you asked if I'd played that
for my parents yet.
I hadn't. It took me until two months ago when my father
was in the
hospital. It turned out that one of the last things he said
to me was,
"It's pretty" after I played and sang that song
for him. He died that night.
Thank you for the lesson, Ernie. I remember a lot of the
taught us at SAMW. I practice the major triad arpeggios
once in awhile
and run through the CAGED series, but the most important
thing I heard
you say was to not to let too much time pass before you
that you really need to do.
I am confident that, if the faith the Rev. Davis and my
father shared proves true,
my father is sitting at that table in heaven, and maybe
he has met Rev. Davis.
Mike Mojo Ithaca NY
You are a very thoughtful, concise and patient teacher.
I describe you as the best guitar teacher I have ever had
to other players. The way you have constructed the CAGED
material is pure genius. I cannot think of when I have had
more fun on the guitar while learning some really cool stuff.
Kaukonen: "Ernie is a brilliant guitarist.
On the last couple of CDs I did, I have some Rev. Gary Davis
songs that Ernie turned me on to. Not only did he turn me
on to them, but he showed me how to play them."
Mark Dingus Atlanta GA I got your caged system dvd and love the material
and the way you present it. I am a flat picker, but after
watching you , I am going to try to learn to use a thumbpick
and fingerpicks. Any recommendations for resources to learn
Find a guitar player you like and try to learn his style
of fingerpicking or look at some of the intro to fingerpicking
dvds that Homespun and Stefan Grossman have
John Russo Rochester NY
I'm a big fan and have purchased many of your Gary Davis dvds.
I have a question about the Rev. You speak a lot about counting,
something starting on 4, even bars etc. Did Gary Davis talk
in terms of counting beats, know names of all the chords -
or was he just a natural talent who just knew when things
were right? I'm trying to understand his technical genius.
Good question. I am trying to understand RGD's genius too.
Good luck to us. I didn't know enough about theory or anything
when I was studying with him so I did not ask him these questions
but I know that he knew a helluva lot of it. Meredith Watson New York NY
Where can I find some original recordings or video clips of
Reverend Davis performing Delia, Florida Blues, or penitentiary
blues? While they are taught on your Blues Guitar of Rev.
Gary Davis DVD, I cannot seem to find the originals anywhere.
Even the Gary Davis website fails to include them in his master
There are a lot of recordings of Dehlia around. I have personal
recordings of Pen. blues and FL blues that I am trying to
get straight to get out. Kurt Bond Hoboken NJ
I caught you live in NYC a few years ago and it changed my
life. While perpetually short of coin, I forked up for your
Rev. GD Gospel DVDs. It was some of the best money I ever
spent. Your teaching is superb, and I often revisit your lessons
to improve my game. It feels a bit odd that I don't know you
as I've spent countless hours learning from you. When my 11
year old son was looking over my shoulder and I pulled up
your website he asked "Who's that?" and without
thinking I responded, "He's my guitar teacher!"
I am grateful to benefit from your passion and talent. My
life would be less rich if you hadn't passed the torch.
Ethan Hirsch Boston MA
I want to thank you for the incredible (I think very generous)
teaching DVDs that you’ve produced. . I have a good sense
of the fret board – back in college, I took a couple courses
in music harmony/theory, I can think through transposing,
finding and building chords across the neck but have not mastered
these skills, chords, scales or arpeggios. I am also looking
to build a library of cliché’s, riffs, turnarounds, and strategies
for playing across the neck. – Is your C-A-G-E-D series a
good choice for me? – I’ve checked out the clips, it looks
very cool. Do you think this is a good fit? Do you have any
other suggestions for helping me achieve these goals?
I need a strategy to improve both right hand picking skills,
rhythm and coordination as well as left hand – do you have
a DVD that would help me to improve my overall hand strength,
skills, and coordination?
The Caged system would be the best thing all around. It shows
you scales and arpeggios and teaches you the neck. I think
this would really help you.
Stefan Grossman - The Unofficial Martin Guitar
a cold Friday night in Brooklyn...link Nick McNeely
I am a novice guitar player who loves the blues, especially
acoustic finger picking and the slide, neither of which I
can do. I would like to get some of your Reverend Gary Davis
stuff and am wondering what DVD’s you would suggest to a novice
player. I can play basic 12-bar blues in different keys.
I suggest you start with the CAGED DVDs then move on to DVDs
of specific players.
Geoff Caldwell Stockton NJ
Just checked out a couple of your videos. Your guitar playing
is so strong and evocative, that your singing doesn't matter
at all, and really, your singing is not bad at all. (actually,
your beautiful soul is beginning to peak through) I thank
you again( and again) for all the great guitar lessons. Just
for freeing my right hand alone. Best wishes and great god
almighty man, thank god you're in the world. Adalberto Italy I have all your DVDs dedicated to Rev. Gary Davis
and I do love them. They are simply great!
Now I would like to study The Gospel Guitar of RGD, but unfortunately
I cannot sing at all, so I have to play those tunes just as
instrumentals. Do you have any advice? In which order should
I study the tunes? Could you suggest any Medley? ... and I
do hope that more DVDs will be available in the very next
Ernie Try singing the easier songs. It is fun to sing and
you get better as you do it. Don't start with Samson &
Deliah. Try I Heard the Angels Singing or keep your Lamp Trimmed
or I am the Light of this World. Thanks for the kind words.
Les Robins U.K. I've ordered your Rev Gary Davis series of DVDs.
I can't wait to get started! I've got used to alternating
thumb after playing a couple of years. I use bare thumb and
two bare fingers. Although I can struggle by using a plastic
thumbpick....is it feasible to play the Gary Davis music without
picks? (and using thumb +
Ernie You can play it any way you want. If you want RGD
sound exactly you would go with picks. I don't think that
is necessary, just play it your own way.
Mike King, Greenville SC
I've been looking for a Gibson in order to get some more
"thump" in my bass lines. Was lookin' for a J45
or Nick Lucas when I came across an amazing J200. It's the
liveliest, loudest, boomin box I ever laid
my hands on. Do you have any recommendations for running
it direct? I'm playing fairly noisy places and frequently
need to get a sound without micing. You mentioned you were
going to try a K&K system. Any Luck?
Congratulations on the J200. I do have a K&K in mine
and it is a big improvement.
Massive fan of yours. Got your dvd of Rev Gary Davis, and
have just bought a Gibson J200. I'm having real trouble finding
a large thumb and finger pick like the ones that you use on
the DVD. Have you any idea where I can pick these large ones
I use the Golden Gate large thumbpick and the large Dunlop
plastic fingerpicks. You can order them from Acoustic Music
Works in Pittsburgh.
Joe Wilkie, Oklahoma
Picked up "Mean Little Poodle"…what an amazing version
of Dehlia...best I have ever heard. The whole album is excellent.
Rich Selznick Philadelphia
I have your CAGED dvd. I've noodled around with guitar for
some time but have never felt at all confident or free to
get up and down the fretboard. From what you say, it seems
like the secret is somewhat tied into figuring out this system.
I'm trying to do the first part where you suggest counting
the 1-3-5 patterns. I find myself having a little trouble
following which notes you are playing. I know it's shown
in the fretboard diagram, but I still am not sure which
1-3-5 patterns or sequences to play.
Ernie Try just saying the notes as you play them in the
first position. In C, 1-3-5 is C-D-E. Start with C, 3 fret
5 string then D, 2 fret 4 string then open G string then
C 1 fret 2 string, then open E, then G 3 fret 1 string and
so on, in the other direction. If it is still confusing,
try to find a teacher near you to explain it face to face
or try to catch one of my workshops.
Wayne Edkin, Blossvale NY
As a recent retiree from public education, I am very impressed
with your work in the schools and the way you have found to
integrate Blues education into curriculum. I'm brand new to
playing music so most of what you teach on the CAGED DVDs
is way over my head. . .but I'm working at it. . .way cheaper
than therapy I figure and a significant hedge against age
related decline. On the first DVD, you make two or three references
to material that is in the "book." What book? Are
you talking about the print material that came inside the
DVD case or is there another book that I missed?
I meant the booklet that comes with the DVD when I say the
book. Just keep at it and it will make sense to you. If you
have specific questions, ask me.
Jean-Louis Carbonnier, New York NY I'm looking for a travel guitar, any suggestions
I think you can take any not too expensive guitar but the
main thing is the case. Even if I am going to Europe I take
a light weight TKL case. They are very light and very strong,
really amazing, actually.
I am trying to play candy man its not easy for me. I know
you have candy man on a dvd about Gary Davis and I don't know
if it is to difficult for me now? I have just started country
I don't know the answer. I can tell you that although Candy
Man sounds simple, it is hard. This is because to play it
like the Rev Davis, you have to switch the bases.. The first
beat, the 'one', is on the high base, which is backwards from
usual (with Freight Train, and almost all fingerpicking songs,
the 'one' is on the low base, the 'two' is on the high and
This is explained on my DVD the blues guitar of RGD.
Mark Mershon, Eevanston IL I am working through the caged two video including
the lester/flatt licks and minor arpeggios. In addition to
this I feel compelled to work out the major/minor and pentatonic
scales in the caged postions. Should I be thinking about this?
If so, what should I tackle first?
I would work out the major first. 1 then 1-3-5 arpeggios then
the 1-3-5-6 (same notes as the minor 7th arpeggios) then the
1-2-3-5-6 --the major pentatonic--same notes as the minor
pentatonics. I feel that when you get the majors down, then
the minors will fall into place. Hope this helps, you are
on the right track.
Ernie My very good friend, Harry Lewman, passed away on
July 8, 2008 after battling serious illnesses for a long time.
If he hadn't told you, you would never have known he was sick.
He was incredibly happy, positive, generous and kind. A rare
friend to many people. Harry was the world's foremost authority
on Leadbelly. He literally wrote the book and filmed the dvd
teaching the playing of this blues giant. I will miss the
sound of his deep and phenomenal playing on his legendary
Stella 12-string. We will all miss him.
Erik Rosum, Derwood MD I am currently working on a Stefan Grossman DVD "Fingerpicking
Guitar Techniques". I am about half way through. I just
recently became aware of Ernie. I think he is great. I was
wondering where he thought I should go with my learning? Does
he generally play with thumb and forefinger or does he also
use his middle finger? What kind of picks does he use? Does
he ever play a resonator? I know this is a lot to ask but
again, I am excited about coming across him.
I sometimes use my middle finger. I use flat plastic fingerpicks
and a thumbpick. I use a Beard and an old National style
0. As far as what you should do is just try to learn the
songs you love and find dvds that teach it. Try to make
it to one of my workshops sometime.
Dave Stott Middletown CT
Please pass along my appreciation to Ernie for his efforts
this past week (Guitar Intensives Bar Harbor ME). I did not
get a chance to thank him personally after the instructors
I called my wife and was practically in tears while describing
the excitement that I had from the CAGED course. Everything
I had been playing in the past suddenly became understood.
Ever since then, I have been working on a variations of several
tunes using the CAGED theory & working through minors,
7th and 9th chords.
Rick Goldsberry Chillicothe OH I recently bought your new Rev Gary Davis instructional
DVD's. I got all 3 titles, Blues, Rags and
Minstrels, and Ragtime Guitar.
I can't even begin to convey to you my enjoyment of this material.
been working on the Blues and Rags and Minstrel DVDs, and
can actually play
several of the songs and quite a few of the licks. Certainly
not as well as
you and the Reverend play them but I get a lot of enjoyment
and am certainly
progressing. I owe you a debt of gratitude for taking the
time to pass this music along
in its original "flavor". There are a lot of people
that play Reverend Gary
Davis's songs but you play his music. These DVDs are enjoyable
just to watch
you play his music. You certainly are a great teacher too.
Anyone that would
put the time in could learn these songs from your explanations.
I can't thank you enough.
Bill Ellis Memphis TN Thanks for being an ongoing inspiration. It's always
a pleasure whenever I get to meet up with
you but this past weekend at Jorma's was especially moving
and memorable for me. You really need to record some music
on Davis' banjo -- it sounded absolutely at home in your hands!
Ian New York
When it comes to Ernie's teaching of Rev. Gary Davis, what
he has done is nothing short of miraculous. Someone should
be pitching a story on it because it is breathtaking. Mike Chambers Alpharetta GA
I just had to thank you for the wonderful work you are doing
teaching the guitar of Reverend Davis. I am bass-string deep
in learning the songs on your Blues Guitar DVD set. I would
not have believed it possible to outdo the achievement of
The Gospel Guitar lessons, but you may have done so.
Just the stories alone of your time with the Reverend are
worth the price. I have longed loved the classics here--Cocaine
Blues, Dehlia, Candyman. I had worked out versions of those
songs; but of course, they weren't quite accurate. Your tablature
and patient teaching have shown me the way. The addition of
songs I had never heard, like Penitentiary Blues and Florida
Blues, makes this DVD set a treasure for all of us that love
and respect the artistry of Reverend Davis. Thank you so much
for doing this important work.
Spencer Lambert Ridgewood NJ
I just wanted to tell you how pleased I am with the Rev. Gary
Davis DVDs. Ernie is not only a master guitarist, he is wonderful
teacher, and he is one of the very few (maybe the only one)
to have mastered the art of conveying his knowledge via the
Tim Neale U.K.
I purchased your wonderful The Gospel guitar of Reverend Gary
Davis. It has to be the best set of guitar
dvd's I have seen by a mile. Your teaching style is superb
and without your explanations and break downs I could never
have hoped to start learning this haunting music, so thank
you so much!!!
I'm 29 years old, a beginner and have only been playing
guitar for just over a year. I started with 'I belong to
the band-Hallelujah' because its one of my favorite Davis
songs and the chords looked easier than some of the others
and I can now play it pretty much fluently (although the
second verse occasionally gets me in a muddle). Alongside
learning I belong to the band I started learning 'keep your
lamp trimmed and burning', 'Children of zion' and more recently'
death don't have no mercy'. Right I'll cut to the chase.
I'm about the same distance now through learning these 3
great songs (not that far into them) and my question is
should I concentrate on just one of these 3 and learn it
thoroughly or as I tempted to do learn all 3 simultaneously
and accept that progress will be slower?
It is hard to give advice on these questions because everyone
is different. Do what you are comfortable with. If you keep
working on these songs, they will eventually all come together.
It has taken me a really long time to learn these songs
and I am still learning them. There is always a surprise
in the rev's playing no matter how well you know it. Every
time you go back to hear him, you hear something new. The
blues and rags are hard, just like everything else. You
are young, this is a project which will keep you happy for
a long long time. Most important thing is to listen to the
Rev himself because he is the fountain that produces all
Steve Briere Shaftsbury VT My favorite video is your Guitar Artistry. Would
you please tell me what gauge strings you are using? You
get the best sound with finger picks.
Ernie I use medium Martins. Part of the sound is heavy
plastic finger picks. The J200 I play is a very very bright
guitar so I use the 80-20's . Normally phosphor bronze are
Tim Wood Tully NY
I'm thinking of getting another guitar to add to
my meager collection. I have thought for a while now that
I would like to try out a 12 fret to the body short scale
00 type. I was wondering do you ever use a smaller guitar
for any blues ? I'm looking at a Huss & Dalton. From
what I have read they make the best 00's. I can't believe
the sound that comes out of that small guitar. My only decision
is what body wood to get Rosewood or Mahogany.
I don't have a smaller guitar. I wish I did. I
like those little Gibsons from the 30's or the reissues.
There are a lot of great ones out there. Collings, etc.
Get in a situation where you have these guitars next to
each other - different woods, different sizes - so you can
sit with them for a while. I like mahogany and am partial
to maple but your style should tell you instinctively what
you need when you hear it. This is a hard one.
Dave Pickel Carson City NV A tempest in a teapot is brewing over the question
of the Reverend's possible use of the capo. I maintain that
he never did and that there is not a shred of evidence to
suggest he did. Can you shed any light on this?
I personally believe that the capo is a crutch and ultimately
limits the guitar player. My use of the capo is to keep
my strings in place when I decide to pull the saddle to
replace it or to lower the action between string changes
as the case may be. A rubber band and pencil works just
as well for this purpose.
I vaguely remember the rev using a capo to show us something
once. He was curious about it. He could play anything in
any key so he really didn't need to use a capo as far as
his voice was concerned which could sing anything. He never
had one as far as I know or used it regularly.
Personally I like the sound sometimes of a capoed guitar
- particularly for African music.
Burruss Williams Palmyra WI
I find your instructional videos entertaining as well as instructional.
Your comments on the depth of the song When the Red, Red Robin
somes Bob, Bob Bobbin' Along from the pop standards dvd was
very interesting. The videos are well paced and thorough in
the presentation of the material. I particularly like how
you will teach a passage from a song, then explain how that
passage is used in various other songs. By using the particular
musical phrase in other songs it enhances their understanding
of song structure. Thanks for the great recordings and instructional
Frank Dessau San Francisco CA
I've been wanting to learn Cincinnati Flow Rag for a long
time. I love your Gospel Guitar of RGD. I never thought I'd
see the day I could play any of that music, but it's slowly
coming together. Many thanks for the careful systematic approach
and the easy going, but confident air you convey that it is
all completely doable. Randy Felton Ravenna OH
I saw on the website someone felt you play Police Dog Blues
in standard tuning. Is that so? Most written versions of it
I see are open D.
It was originally played in open D by Blind Blake. My version
is in standard tuning. Tom Groh Lombard IL
Do you have any photo's of the reverend together with you?
You said that the reverend had a hard time playing blues music
because he was a preacher. In my thinking I believe the blues
is a beautiful music and art form and I don't see any conflict
between playing blues music and religion. I know that the
blues was called the devils music but so was jazz and rock
and roll. Stories on the internet about RGD playing the blues
seem to point the finger at his wife that she would say don't
play that trash and would discourage him.
The only photo of me with the Rev is on Blues Advice. A lot
of black people thought that blues was a kind of low down
music. Particularly religious people who had a palpable sense
of who the devil was. The Rev. was not supposed to play blues
but there were loop holes. For instance when he was teaching
it was OK
Craig Detroit MI
I really love the latest CD and have a question about the
12-string sound you get. Can you talk about the guitar, how
you tune it (low or standard?) and about 12 string playing
in general a bit?
That 12 string is just a regular 10 year old maple Guild,
light strings, tuned to pitch. I often use a Guild 12 string
with real big strings tuned two whole steps down when I am
playing Blind Willie McTell stuff. Rich Lipscher Baltimore MD
The RGD DVD collection is wonderful. I feel like I am fourteen
again and Ernie has given my guitar playing new meaning and
direction. What Rev. Gary was to Ernie, Ernie has become to
me. It great to have someone pass on such a grand tradition
of music that might otherwise be lost. Jim Walsh Austin, TX
I bought the Rev. Davis Gospel Guitar DVD about a year ago,
and have found it challenging and rewarding. After a year
I'm just now starting to get a feel for the driving, percussive
nature of the style.
Did the Rev. Davis ever use palm-muting on the lower strings
(a la Travis)? Is it a technique you would recommend for the
Gary Davis repertoire?
He used all kinds of tricky right and left hand techniques
to entertain or get any kind of sound he wanted. Although
I don't recall him doing it, it was a common country blues
thing. And as he could imitate anybody's playing, I'm surer
he did it sometime. In general though, he has an open kind
of style. He let the strings ring, like Lightnin'. David Washington Pittsburg, CA
I have out the Chord inversions and arpeggios according to
CAGED. I have yet to work on the passing chord connections.
My problem has always been that I get in a rush. In an effort
to break this habit I looking for structured method of practice
and progressing. Currently, my practice begins with a pentatonic
scale in the key of E. I then proceed with the CAGED arpeggios
in the first position followed by the chord inversions up
and down the neck. The final movement involves reciting the
1-3-5 pattern as I go through the chord inversions. How do
you suggest that I work in the passing chords?
Sounds like you are doing the right things. Work through the
inversions in every key using the passing chords to connect
them. Move on to the 2nd dvd. and start playing songs particularly
Blue Monk. Self discipline is a problem for everyone.
Glenn Shockley Snow Hill MD I just received my Christmas present to myself: Guitar
Artistry of Ernie Hawkins. Well folks, I am stunned. I
have just experienced one of the most pleasant Friday afternoons
I could have. This dvd is a solid killer. I knew from Ernie's
instructionals that he was very good, but this one left me
spellbound for an hour and a half. Flawless music. I'll be
ordering more of these for friends. Beautiful music. Cliff Brown Durham NH I’ve been working on your version of Police Dog Blues,
figuring it out from the Guitar Artistry DVD. It’s really
a masterpiece, and I love the idea of arranging a song originally
written for an open tuning in standard tuning. I feel grateful
for the opportunities I’ve had to learn from you, both in
person and via your instructional materials. You've really
helped my playing tremendously on both a technical and conceptual
Samer Montreal Just received the Lipscomb DVD this week, it's wonderful
and you did a great job. I'm ordering the Rev Davis dvd's
next. I was wondering though what gauge Mance and other blues
guitarists used. I bought a 000 Blueridge, strung with lights.
Would mediums be more appropriate to get that sound? Ernie
Mediums are more appropriate for Gary Davis but probably lights
for Mance. I generally use mediums for everything but lights
are fun because they are easier to play
Randy Harrison Fortville IN When I play ball with my brown lab, my toy fox
terrier hangs on his ear when he's running after the ball.
What should I do about this? Ernie
Call the Mean Little Poodle
Dave Stott Middletown CT
I love your latest guitar artisty DVD and your Blues Advice
CD listen to both quite often.
#1 Do you if any tab exists for Cold Winter Day?
#2 Can you tell me the basic chord progression on Call up
I just can't seem to figure out your fingering from the DVD
#3 Any update on your work on the REV Gary Davis DVD lesson??
I WILL be at this years Summer Intensives in Maine, hope to
I do not have tab for Cold Winter Day. I promise I will show
you both songs at Guitar Intensives.
Call up China moves between a D ninth and A with an E on the
turn around. The timing is strange.
The RGD Blues Guitar instructional dvds will be here after
DJ Parker Jacksonville FL
I purchased "Rags & Bones" and have
almost worn it out. I’m getting ready to purchase your 3 DVD
series on the CAGED system and I just know it’ll be the best
money spent. Thank you for providing such excellent instruction
as well as such wonderful music.
I’m curious as to what guitars that were used on the R &
B cd. I see you holding a Gibson J200 but what were some of
the other instruments used?
Ernie I think I use a 1989 J200 and a 1947 Southern Jumbo.
Willie Leebel Chesapeake Beach MD
I wanted to thank you for all of the wonderful music this
past weekend at Fur Peace Ranch. I especially enjoyed your
impromptu concert Sunday afternoon before dinner. I also enjoyed
our discussions about Pittsburgh and soon to be superbowl
champion Steelers. I have already signed up for a full plate
next year at the Ranch but was wondering if you have any workshops
in the works for 2008 other than those at FPR.
As of now, I have two weekends at the Ranch and am
teaching at SAMW in NH July 13-19 and Guitar Intensives in
Bar Harbor Maine August 10-15. This is a great location on
the coast on the campus of the College of the Atlantic and
very close to Acadia National Park. The food is very good
and everyone has a grand time. Due to the RGD weekend at FPR
being moved to August, I will not be able to make the full
week at GI this year. Probably start teaching on the 13th. Gary Hill Spring Hill KS
Saw you here in the Kansas City area a few years back;
a great inspirational show. Would be great if you came back…
I picked up the RGD set about a year ago. It has provided
many hours of playing enjoyment and challenges. You do a
GREAT job with your laid back but serious teaching style.
I have played these styles for thirty years and find it
amazing that one never runs out of new ideas to learn.
I recently picked up your Guitar Artistry DVD. It is terrific.
I had always wanted to fully learn Florida blues and Penitentiary
blues. I had them figured out probably 90% and seeing you
play them completed the deal. I also really like Hawkins
rag and the Rev. Davis medley. I’ve pretty well figured
out the RGD medley but would really like to see you teach
Hawkins rag on a future DVD.
One more question: where did you get that blue guitar shirt
you wear on the Guitar Artistry DVD? It is major mojo apparel!
Ernie I am getting asked by quite a few people where
I got that shirt. My sister-in-law-bought it on sale and
doesn't remember where. Can't help you with this one
Klaus B. Jensen Denmark
I just love the way you play, I do the fingerstyle guitar
to, but not so good as you, I have to study Gary Davis
more he is great, I mail you because it could be so nice
if you one day came and playd in my home town, its mabe
just a dream but anyway, there is a lot of people that like
acustic blues ragtime and rootsmusic here, I dont no if
you are interestet to meet somewhere one day, I would love
to learn some songs from you. pardon my englis
Erik Gran Norway Thanks for a great time in Stockholm!
I enjoyed both the concert and the workshop, and also had
a really good time listening to your cd's. "Massanga",
the last track on Rags'n Bones, is becoming one of my favorite
songs. Very beautiful, and also interesting to compare with
Gary Davis' playing.You've given me lots of inspiration,
and the workshop also put together a lot of information
about the neck that I sort of have already known, but not
have connected well enough to use in my playing. I think
I learned more from the 4 hours with you than I would have
done for months by myself, if I ever could have got that
kind of insight from reading.
I got completely lost at one point when we moved the blues
progression in A up the neck. I usually do that when I try
to play along with other people or recorded music, guess
it's because I have been playing almost exclusively alone
for many years, and have very little practice in playing
together with other players. Do you have any advice on how
to train the ability to carry on and fall back in after
a mistake? This may be a very silly question, and my first
thought is that I should play
more often along with recordings, and also find someone
to play with. I just wonder if there might be some kind
of exercises that efficiently focuses just on this. To me
it seems that I'm so used stop and go back when I practice
that I'm not focused enough on what comes after the mistake.
I've actually seen someone who believe it's better to learn
tunes from the end than from the beginning, that is starting
with the last bars, and working bar by bar towards the beginning.
Do you think that will be of any help?
Try playing with people and records regularly and work on
the CAGED material. Once you get the chords down, go to the
1--3-5-- arpeggios up the neck through each chord form. Pick
a run or phrase you like and play it everywhere in every position
you can find. Nothing has made me more confident on the neck
than these things, I think. Mats Sweden
Thank you for a great concert and workshop in Stockholm.
You have open a new world for me(it's a new way of playing
the guitar). Hope to see you soon. Maybe I´m going to visit
US next year. If it´s possible I would like to visit you for
private lesson. I`m going to work hard....
Jean-Claude Couret Fontenilles France
Vous etes SUPER.
Casey Yoder Monroe Twp. NJ
I have the Lightnin' video - a great video. I've exhausted
all the turnarounds and I'm stuck in a terrible rut of not
being able to learn any more. Songs like "sittin here
thinkin" and "sometimes she will" I listen
over and over and just can NEVER get the tunarounds. I want
to move down the fretboard but have no idea where to go, tryin
to play along with the music and figure it out is impossible
for me. All I know is I'd give up
everything and anything to be able to play like that...
Ernie The only thing I can suggest at this moment is to
buy the caged dvds. They talk a lot about turnarounds and
show you how to navigate the neck while playing blues in an
easy way. There may be another TX blues country dvd out in
the future. If you have any particular great Lightnin' tunes
that I haven't covered, send me a copy
Stokes Hagg Denver CO
I just wanted to let you know I have really enjoyed your instructional
DVD's. I own the Lightnin Hopkins and the Mance Lipscomb DVDs.
I have been playing in the Texas Pinch style ever since and
it has been a revelation. Thanks for sharing your knowledge
of this beautiful music. I am blown away with your playing.
Have you considered doing an instructional disc in the style
of John Lee Hooker?
I don't have any plans for a JLH DVD but you can check with
Kate Sullivan NYC
Just wanted to extend a big thank you for a great week of
instruction at Guitar Intensives. I'm looking forward to taking
a giant step to that world of possibilities utilizing the
CAGED language. Who knows maybe I'll internalize it so well
that I will one day find myself dreaming in the rhythmic flow
of its many conjugations, intonations and accents. Glory,
A little bit everyday - you will find out how easy it is.
You already are a really good player and this will sink
in and become part of you. Best thing to do is teach it
to somebody. Then you'll really know it and come up with
your own angles. It was a special week and a pleasure getting
to know you
Phil Dollard Briarcliff Manor NY
Just a short note to say thanks for a terrific week at Guitar
intensives. "Shuffle Rag" is a little beyond me
right now but "There's a Table Set in Heaven"
is coming along and I'm trying to work 15-30 min. a day
on the CAGED DVD's. Mainly it was just a kick to hear you
play for a week in class & the concert . Also, your
kind words on my humble reading of "Hard Times."
Hadn't known Stephan Foster was buried in Pittsburgh; but
more poignantly, the fact that he only had 34 cents in his
pocket and a note with the words "Kind hearts and gentle
people" on it. I believe I'll not be able to do that
song henceforth without conjuring up those words.
I appreciate you and your playing a lot. Find somebody to
teach stuff to and you'll really get to know everything
you've learned in a deeper way.
Mike Mojo Ithaca NY
I would like to thank you both for making last week a truly
magical experience. Thanks for all you have shared with
me. I feel I am a not only a better player but a better
person too. (Guitar Intensives Bar Harbor ME)
Charlie Means Providence RI
I was one of your students at SAMW a month or so ago. I
want to order CAGED 1 from your site, but before I do, am
wondering if you have recorded Table Settin’ in Heaven on
one of your albums, as if you have, I would want to order
that too. I think you may have taught this song in one of
your classes, but not in mine. I just heard it the one time
you played it at the evening concert… can’t get it out of
Also, do you have or know where I could find tab and/or
lyrics for it. Have looked at Rev. GD site but can’t find
it there..I think I have the melody more or less correct,
but the bass part is a mystery to me, as are most bass parts.
Loved you class and your playin’ !!
I haven't recorded it yet but I will in the fall. I showed
it to Jorma and it is on his new CD "Stars in my Crown".
RGD recorded it in the '50's on " A Little more Faith".
The tab will be in the winter issue of SingOUT! magazine.
Jed I have several of your instructional blues DVDs.
The one song I really want an exact, precise tab for is
Blind Blake's West Coast Blues. I have the Stefan Grossman's
Blind Blake book/cd but it doesn't have all the exact nuances
that you do in your instructional DVDs. Please let me know
if you can do the tab for this song and what your rate would
Ernie I don't have the tab and just don't have the time
to write it right now. Where do you live? Maybe I could
give you a lesson if I am coming through.
The Gibson you are playing (and your way of bringing out
the best in it by your playing ability!) on your Lightnin’
Hopkins “Shining Moon” video sounds fantastic. Is it an
L-00 or L-1, a J45? I should be able to tell but I am not
that familiar with the older Gibson models and that looks
like a classic!
It is a 1950 J50.
Pawlak Port Leyden NY
I'm working through the tapes (CAGED and Rev Davis
) and learning a lot.So far I'm making pretty good progress
but ole Gary makes it look a lot easier than it really is.
Anyway,I like that strap you have on your Gibson.Can you
tell me the make/model or where I might get one.
It is from Beard Guitars. I don't know the model
Bob Mayberger Bellport NY
I am wondering if the Red Red Robin/Charleston DVD is too
advanced for me. I can do Mance's Captain Captain in a really
stripped down version w/o grace notes. His other stuff seems
too hard to work on. The Gary Davis 4DVD set is something
I have not really worked on, though I could probably do a
few of his tunes in my own stripped down version. In any case,
your DVD's are fantastic, and tremendous fun to just watch
and understand from. I am working with Mary Flower's Drop
D and Ragtime DVD's and find them very do-able.
If you are doing fine on Mary's, you will do fine on the Red
Red Robin DVD.
Rob Clements Carlsbad NM
I am interested in a lesson via CD or DVD. I play acoustic
blues and gospel, mostly for my own
pleasure and "therapy." I am at an intermediate
level. I am blind therefore, tab does me no good. What would
recommend for a 58 year old man that is motivated to learn?
Your best bet is to get together with someone and have them
guide you through. Learning by ear is possible but is hard,
particularly with Gary Davis because you have to understand
where he is on the neck. Find someone who can show this to
you and help you through the dvds. You could probably follow
the RGD dvd because I speak about where things are. It's not
expressly designed for someone who is blind but I think you
could pick things up particularly if you have someone you
can watch it with. Good luck. Let me know if I can help in
any way. Nathan Greeley, Worcester MA
When comparing Blind Lemon's playing to Lightnin's, even though
there are some similarities, the boogie woogie bass lines
and the long free melodic phrases for example...there really
isn't a whole lot of common ground between them. Lightnin'
works with a much more limited palette. I guess you could
say he's much more redundant. If you wanted to put it in a
positive light you could say "master of a particular
sound and style." Lemon is a player that I can't do much
more than try to cop licks from, because he doesn't really
have a personal style per se, due to his playing being so
idiosyncratic on virtually all of his tunes, the early ones
at least. Whereas Lightnin's style, thanks in large part to
your DVD, I feel I have a pretty good grasp on. Composing
tunes on the spot in Lightnin's style and trying to implement
as many of his ideas as I can in a given tune has really helped
me to gain a lot of confidence with his bag of tricks in E
and A. What I really want to know is who was Lightnin' imitating
during his formative years back in the 20s and 30s besides
Blind Lemon? Who did his playing style, primarily in the keys
of E and A come from? Was the steady shuffle bass in almost
all of his tunes a Lightnin' innovation based upon the boogie
woogie rhythm or was someone doing it before him?
This is a really good question. I don't know the answer. Obviously
there were many great players that we will never hear of.
Also piano players and records. Lightnin', particularly as
a young guy, was very inventive. So ... who knows. I agree
with you pretty much on the way you characterize the difference
between the two players.
Dave Pickel, Carson City NV
The Reverend is my favorite among all the 'traditional' acoustic
players. I am reluctant to classify him further, but Gospel,
of course, is a strong contender. I have been playing guitar
since 1969 and I didn't know until I heard some of the Reverend's
music to whom I aspired too in my acoustic playing (I'll take
Jimi for my electric inspiration though). I love the Reverend,
his music is of great comfort these days. I just have a heck
of a time trying to sing the lyrics to Samson and Delilah
while playing the bass figure behind it...
Thanks for keeping his music alive as I endeavor to do in
my small way.
David Goddy, Brooklyn NY
Ernie, you are a wonderful guitar player. I bought four of
your cd's a few months ago and have listened to them over
I have a question about the caged dvd's. I'm wondering what's
in them in terms of exercises and whether they're right for
where I am. I would describe myself as kind of an intermediate
guitar player, but have been doing fingerstyle only for a
couple of years. I can sit there for weeks struggling over
a few tabbed songs -- for example, "all my friends are
gone" version by Stefan Grossman. I don't yet have much
independent control over my fingers for doing melody or a
lead break (as opposed to playing a pattern to the chords
of a song). And I'm not a kid, so it comes slowly. What I've
been thinking is that I need some good exercises to develop
better control and more quickness in my fingers (I use thumb
and two, not three). I like the idea of the caged system from
what I understand of it, and the reviews are wonderful. But
I can't tell what's really in the lessons!
One of the best ways to get facility from the word "go"
on the guitar is to work with the basic 1-3-5 arpeggios through
the different chord inversions up and down the neck. It is
something that is very simple sounding, but, because it is
fundamental, it is actually not so easy. Fundamental things,
particularly for us older guys, are harder to go back to.
But nothing is more important. My advice is to start there
Rob Wagner, PA
Want to thank you again for a great show last night at Longwood
Gardens. I had seen you on PBS. Great music, great weather
and a great place to be.
I got about half thru the CAGED dvd last night and it's
something that I had learned years ago but was good to review
it. I consider myself an beginner to intermediate player.
My biggest problem currently is finding the time to practice
- I can usually get 40 - 60 minutes in so end up just reviewing
things I alrady know how to play. I did purchase your Blind
Willie McTell DVD - it's a good one.
I do have one question - what is the basic difference between
a Rag and Blues? Is it the chord progression? The Blue notes?
I'd say the basic difference between rags and blues is the
chord progression and the feel. Blues is usually 1-4-5.
Rags are usually a circle of fifths, more complex with more
parts. A lot of what was 20's jazz is called ragtime now.
Then of course you have the category of ragtime blues.
I just got The CAGED Guitar System which is terrific .There
is something that I don't understand, when I start with say
a "C" chord pattern I can easily visualize moving
the fretted portions of the chord up
a half, a whole, or more steps. However, I can't figure out
what happens with the open
strings, for example, the 6th string (3-E), the 3rd string
(5-G) or the lst string (3-E).
I am not sure I understand your question. The open strings
are just what they appear when you are playing the first position
Thank you for your dedication to the music! I have been working
on material from the Gospel Guitar video for several years
(slow learner). Do you know what will be on the next Gary
Davis instructional video?
I vote for "Lord, I Feel Just Like Going On."
No, blues, rags and novelty songs. One gospel tune: "Stars
in my Crown".
I received the DVD's today in the mail. Love the film footage
of the Rev. By the way, where did Ernie get his guitar strap?
I noticed it doesn't interfere with his left hand. I have
an old Gibson and don't want to have a strap pin installed.
Do you know where I can get a strap like his?
I got the strap from Beard Guitar but just about any kind
of strap can be attached to the peghead. Your local music
store can help you out. I personally don't like putting strap
buttons into the sides of guitars. Look at a picture of Rev.
Joe Lambert Dublin Ohio
I recently ordered "Rags & Bones" and
am really enjoying it.
You inspired me to work up an arrangement of "Cincinnati
I really like your version of Rev. Davis' "The Boy Was
Kissing The Girl..."
and wondered if there was a tab arrangement of that available
somewhere. I've also been studying your DVD on Rev. Davis-style
guitar and it is a very
good tool.You have a lot of patience in the DVD when you break
the music down slowly!
The tab for "The Boy was Kissing the Girl"
will be included in a RGD dvd that I am filming this month.
Nathan Greeley Worcester MA
First of all thank you so much for making the Lightnin' Hopkins
and Mance Lipscomb DVDs. If you're putting out another Texas
Blues DVD in the near future I'll definitely be buying it.
I was wondering about the guitar you're using in those DVDs.
I know it's a Gibson slope shouldered dreadnaught but what
is the exact year and make? Is it ladder braced? I ask because
I need to get one someday. Or something very similar at least.
That guitar has such great tone.
It is a 1950 J50 - not ladder braced.
Robin Davies West Wales UK
From the CAGED series I have two questions:
When you define the arpeggio 1,3,5 I understand how they relate
to the chord/form as stated and their use at whatever position/chord
form on the neck.
However should we then find/familiarize ourselves with the
whole scale related to that chord/form (ie we'll then move
on to become familiar with the 2,4,6,7 on each chord/form).
2. Why is it so important to have passing
notes between the same chord albeit in a different position
ie first C position to C chord G Form. I assume it is just
to make the tune interesting and bluesy.
Great DVD and am also working on Rev Gary Davis Gospel DVD
Yes, you should familiarize yourself with the whole scale.
Starting with the 1 3 5 is just a way to approach it for me.
The connecting chords are important in countless ways, turnarounds,
etc. Always good to learn how these things come together.
Epstein Bloomfield MI
The workshop was GREAT. [Fur Peace Ranch] This morning I played
Blue Monk in the key of C and had all the positions and passing
notes down (unlike in our student performance). I'm sure that
as I work on it, all kinds of new understandings will come
along...a little finger memory wouldn't hurt either!
I just wanted to thank you for your patience and diligence
in getting ALL that information across. I'm just sorry I
couldn't have had access to this knowledge years ago.
a pleasure spending time with you again. I'd be happy to
recommend your course to anyone. I hope to see you soon.
Maybe I can get on the waitlist for the Rev. Gary Davis
weekend in October.
Nelson Louisville KY That
was my 3rd Fur Peace class, and by far the most beneficial.
Don’t get me wrong, I have enjoyed all my experiences
there, and learned some cool songs every time. But this time
I realize I have learned real practical music theory…
(actually I think music fact is a better description). I know
I have only scratched the surface with the method you have
given us, but we have the method now to understand the fret
board. And I am actually excited to practice the arpeggios
and progressions…. Never thought I’d say that…
Thanks for your patience. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
You are one ‘Bad Ass’ player!!
Talbert Fitzwilliam NH
QUESTION 1: Does Ernie wear a special thumb
pick? It looks like he wears
his thumb pick way up on the thumb joint and I have had some
my thumb pick coming off in hard strumming.
why he wears it that way?
2: Has Ernie ever done a DVD on open G slide guitar
am using the Eric Clapton Unplugged DVD for some ideas but
would enjoy a
truly instructional video on how to slide better.
3: I play slide on a 1966 Gibson B-25, what model
is Ernie using in the
DVD? Does he ever use a soundhole pickup?
1. thumb pick - I use a golden gate large on my knuckle
a la Gary Davis for more control.
2. I never have done a dvd on an open G slide. I hope to
some day. Maybe Steve James has one.
3. Which dvd? I use a variety of sloped shouldered Gibsons:
J45, J50, SJ, or J200. I love those B25s.
White - Australia
Interesting stuff! Looked at the caged system a few
years ago and this is a different way looking at it, wonderful!
The RGD series is spectacular. Working on 2 songs and going
well. Tell Ernie that he's done a fine job on them. Though
I will have to alter some fingerings as I have white man hands
and unable to pull my thumb over the bottom 2 strings. Have
played years with the thumb on the E string but that A is
much too difficult with the other fingerings. Oh well I'll
get something close. Now I have a busy couple of months.........years.
Groh - Lombard, IL
diagram below shows you all of the primary notes on the fretboard
of the guitar. You'll use it in order to identify the name
of the key signature. In order to get a sharp (#) simply go
up one fret. To get a flat (b) just go down one fret. For
example F# (2nd fret, low E string) would be one fret higher
than F (1st fret, low E string). Hi Ernie I have been playing
my arpeggios I print out the fretboard and circle all the
1 3 5 notes and practice. Seems to be working
I very much enjoyed the lesson I had with Ernie the last time
I was in Pittsburgh. I've been playing one of the songs that
Ernie taught me, "God will take care of you" and
I'm really enjoying it. I'd sure appreciate the opportunity
to learn more from Ernie.
Alt - Galion, OH
Do you plan on making any more Lightnin' Hopkins instructional
dvds in the future?
I got so much out of your first one. It was great. Also wondering
if you know of any
other dvds that may be of some help on the style and playing
of Lightnin' Hopkins.
I am really into LIGHTNIN STUFF!
I don't know of any other dvds to help you with Lightnin'.
I will be making a Texas blues dvd for
Stefan Grossman that will have some Lightnin' on it.Steve
Nelson - Louisville, KY
I am signed up for his April class on the C-A-G-E-D system
@ FPR. I have a very basic exposure to the system given by
Marjorie Thompson at a FPR class last year. I do not own Ernie’s
DVD, but I have his RGD DVD’s and have worked on ‘Keep
your Lamps…’ and ‘Samson and Delilah’.
you suggest I get the C-A-G-E-D Video and work with it before
wouldn't hurt. It's not absolutely necessary but the more
you can prepare the better. I look forward to seeing you
Pitt - Montpelier, VT I've
been finger picking for about 45 years. I do Gary Davis, Blake,
Fuller, etc.- Until about 4 years ago I've only used the flesh
of my finger tips. Then I got into finger picks -I like the
percussive quality. I started out with plastic Dunlops. The
problem was, (even after I got used to their cumbersome thickness),
- they would loosen or tighten depending on the temperature
of the environment or time of year. It would often happen
in the middle of a gig. I switched to metal which are easier
to reshape on the spot. However I much prefer the sound of
plastic. I spoke to Fred Kelly (I like his thumb picks) about
making finger picks- possibly a combo of plastic with metal
wrap arounds. I've tried Alaska's & pro pick--nothing
has done the trick--
Do you have any suggestions for:
1- Keeping the plastic ones on my fingers (I'd prefer not
to use tape) 2-
A thinner plastic finger pick- the Dunlops (I use the clear
large one) are pretty meaty
I would appreciate and look forward to any advice you may
be able to offer.
The larger the picks, the meatier the tone. I boil them in
water and then shape them by squeezing them. The fat ones
stay on very tight. Geoff
Caldwell - Stockton, NJ
Do you use bone bridge pins as well as saddle and nut? What
opinion do you have about the sound change. Also what strings
do you use?
I think my luthier uses bone on everything. I cannot tell
I use Martin SP medium gage strings. For my '89 J-200 I
use the 8/20 bronze because the guitar is very bright. Normally
I use phosphor.