ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Free Fingerpicking Blues Guitar Lesson #1 - Deep River Blues Chords - Doc Watson

Updated on July 25, 2014

Blues Guitar Lessons - Doc Watson

What Is So Special About Doc's Fingerpicking Guitar Technique?

Although I make my living as an acoustic blues guitar player, I'm fascinated by all great finger picking guitarists and I always wanted to learn how to play Deep River Blues.

Doc Watson's 'Deep River Blues' stands out at as a perfect example of the style known as 'Travis picking' and anyone wanting seriously to learn how to play the blues should delve into Doc's style.

Doc's performance of 'Deep River' is at a slower tempo than we first think, but is chock full of subtleties and little complex movements. Like all brilliant acoustic blues guitar players, he first puts down the basic pattern and chord structure before progressively adding variations as he moves through the song. It's been said that the professional guitarist makes an easy technique sound difficult, and a difficult sounding technique look easy!

The Best Blues Guitar Teachers Deliver Effective Techniques

Often, we find guitar instructors delivering an approximation of his sound, which is understandable, as it's difficult to reproduce. Unfortunately, some tend to over simply what's going on, and therefore devalue his incredible style.

Some other teachers may use two or more picking fingers in an attempt to encapsulate Doc's picking pattern, which tends to over complicate the process. In fact, Doc uses just one thumb and his index finger to create that beautiful, relaxed and flowing guitar sound.

In the embedded video above I attempt to unravel and demonstrate a little of Doc's technique, also suggesting ways in which we can approximate his sound, without reducing the appeal of this great song. Whatever path we take to learn how to play blues guitar, legendary figures like Doc Watson show us how it should be done. Learn Deep River Blues slowly and remember to keep the feeling.

Jim Bruce Guitar Lessons

The lessons the pros use ...

Click Here To See Details


Or maybe you'd like to ...

Is There Any More To Doc's Guitar Playing Than That? Well, Yes There Is! Lesson #2

The first Deep river Blues guitar lesson was posted on Youtube and it was prompted by the fact that other lessons I had seen simplified either the technique too much, made it to pretty, or worse still, didn't convey that special flavor that we look for.

The leisurely pace of Doc's picking is punctuated now and again by some subtle moves which pass by without registering much. However, they are extremely important in conveying the overall effect of the music. When learning blues guitar in the old style, we need to investigate the variations that the master 'snuck in' and try to copy them - in this way we get a better idea of where they are coming from. In this next video I take a look at a couple of these subtleties - go for it!

Fingerpicking Doc Watson Style - Deep River Blues Guitar Lesson #2

Jim Bruce Guitar Lessons

Join the crowd ...

Click Here To See Details


OK - On we go ...

Blind Willie McTell
Blind Willie McTell

Where Can I use Travis Fingerpicking For Acoustic Blues Guitar?

The great thing about learning any guitar picking style is that it can be adapted and absorbed into our own techniques and be used in our arrangements. in this way we can spread the love and have more fun, which incidentally folks, is what it's all about! Learning acoustic guitar should be fun.

In the video below I take a blues song written by Blind Willie McTell, the Georgia ragtime blues guitar master, and apply Doc's Travis style guitar picking to it. The song is called 'Search the Desert' and the original is nothing like this at all - search on Youtube for McTell's rendition.

So Much Trouble by Brownie McGhee


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)