Author Archives: Joe Walker

Student Showcase: Summer 2017

Another fantastic showcase at Empty Sea Studios on Sep 16. Individual videos: Caroline S (15): “Simple As This” – Jake Bugg Ella H (11): “How Far I’ll Go” – Auli’i Cravalho Cooper H (11): “A Horse with No Name” – … Continue reading

Posted in Student Showcases | Leave a comment

Student of the Month: Caroline

Caroline is currently preparing “Don’t Look Back in Anger” by Oasis for her third-ever performance. She’s done Frank Ocean’s “Lost” and the Eagles’ “Hotel California” in the last six months. This time, she was in the enviable position of having … Continue reading

Posted in Student of the Month | Leave a comment

Student Showcase: Winter 2017

We played our second show at Empty Sea Studios on Mar 12. What a great night! Enjoy the whole show here: Individual videos: Ella (11): “Safe & Sound” – Taylor Swift Leo (8): Medley: “Louie, Louie” – The Kingsmen, “Smoke … Continue reading

Posted in Student Showcases | Leave a comment

Student of the Month: Xavier

Xavier is a chord learning machine. In less than a year of lessons, I think he’s learned more chords than any of my other ukulele students. We had to move beyond my recommended common chords and into an ukulele chord … Continue reading

Posted in Student of the Month | Leave a comment

Student of the Month: Ben

Ben started his guitar journey last year around Christmas time with a whole lot of “Jingle Bells” and “Smoke on the Water”. After the holidays, we set out to satisfy his craving to play and sing songs from Billy Bragg … Continue reading

Posted in Student of the Month | Leave a comment

Student of the Month: Ella

Our May Student of the Month is ten-year-old Ella. In her eight months of guitar lessons, she’s learned snippets of many different songs, but she fine-tuned her first full song last month, strumming chords and singing along on “Kumbaya”. Ella’s … Continue reading

Posted in Student of the Month | Leave a comment

14 Must-See Guitar Concert DVDs

One of the best ways to get inspired is to watch a master do what you’re learning to do. We students of the guitar are fortunate; there are mountains of concert DVDs out there showcasing incredible guitarists. I won’t try … Continue reading

Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Student of the Month: Max

Here’s Max, the April Student of the Month. He’s been playing for less than a year, but his passion for music and guitar already runs deep. He takes everything I give him in lessons and runs with it, especially the … Continue reading

Posted in Student of the Month | Leave a comment

Student Showcase: Spring 2016

New venue for the latest Showcase, and what a great space to have a concert. We played at Empty Sea Studios on Apr 1, and it was a magical evening for everyone involved. Enjoy the whole show here: Individual videos: … Continue reading

Posted in Student Showcases | Leave a comment

Student of the Month: Will F

This is Will’s second Student of the Month feature. His first time was three years ago, not long after he’d started lessons. Since then, we’ve studied Stevie Ray Vaughan, Gary Clark Jr., Franz Ferdinand, Ratatat, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Weezer, … Continue reading

Posted in Student of the Month | Leave a comment

Student of the Month: Isabella

Congratulations to 11-year-old Isabella, our February Student of the Month. Izzy’s been taking lessons at Deft Digits for a year and a half, and she’s utterly obsessed with strumming chords and singing her favorite pop/dance tunes. We must have worked … Continue reading

Posted in Student of the Month | Leave a comment

Student Showcase: Fall 2015

Another fantastic Showcase happened last weekend, on 10 Oct 2015. So many of my students are reaching a level where I can sing and play along with them. These events are becoming more and more fun for me! Watch the … Continue reading

Posted in Student Showcases | Leave a comment

Student of the Month: Lauren

The September Student of the Month at Deft Digits is 13-year-old Lauren. She’s been taking lessons with me since last summer, learning to play some Sam Smith, John Legend, Led Zeppelin, Coldplay, and a pile of others. She also writes … Continue reading

Posted in Student of the Month | Leave a comment

Student of the Month: Sam

The August Student of the Month is 16-year-old Sam. He’s been playing guitar off and on for seven years, but he’s a relative newcomer to Deft Digits. He started lessons here only three months ago, and he’s plowed through every … Continue reading

Posted in Student of the Month | Leave a comment

Student of the Month: Bruce

Bruce is the July 2015 Deft Digits Student of the Month! Bruce loves his surf rock, and during the year that he’s been taking lessons with me, he’s opened my eyes to the genre. It turns out there’s a lot … Continue reading

Posted in Student of the Month | Leave a comment

Student of the Month: Zach

Here’s Zach, the June 2015 Student of the Month! Zach’s been taking lessons with me for one year, and he’s been blazing through all the classic rock hits, leveling up his guitar skills with a new song almost every week. … Continue reading

Posted in Student of the Month | Leave a comment

400 Popular Songs to Learn on Guitar, With Lesson Links

Part of my job as a guitar teacher is curating songs that my students might like to play. While some students know exactly what they want to learn and enthusiastically pursue every item on their ever-growing “to-learn” list, others just … Continue reading

Posted in Advanced, Advice, Beginner, Intermediate, Practicing, Repertoire, Rock, Tools, Videos | 4 Comments

Student Showcase: Winter 2015

The latest Deft Digits Student Showcase happened 8 Mar 2015. The students practiced many hours in preparation and performed brilliantly. Watch the whole thing here! Individual videos: Patrick (15): “Mad World” – Tears for Fears Alison (6): “I’m Yours” – … Continue reading

Posted in Student Showcases | 1 Comment

Student of the Month: Alison

Here’s Alison, the youngest Student of the Month so far! She’s six years old, she’s been playing guitar for less than a year, and she’s loving it. Alison gave her first performance at last October’s Showcase, singing and playing “Old … Continue reading

Posted in Student of the Month | Leave a comment

Student of the Month: Will

Will has been playing guitar and taking lessons with me for the past year and a half. He’s eleven years old now, and he’s been fully infected with the AC/DC bug. He started on acoustic, strumming chord songs like Brad … Continue reading

Posted in Student of the Month | Leave a comment

Students of the Month: Brady and Ted

This month’s honors go to a pair of students, a father and son, who’ve been taking ukulele lessons with me for eight months. When they started, this was meant to be a secret project to be unveiled to their family … Continue reading

Posted in Student of the Month | Leave a comment

Student Showcase: Fall 2014

The latest Showcase featured eleven of my bravest students performing a wild array of songs for each other and their families. Watch the whole thing here! Individual videos: Caroline (7): “Let It Go” – Demi Lovato Alison (5): “Old MacDonald … Continue reading

Posted in Student Showcases | Leave a comment

Student of the Month: Lucca

Lucca has been working his hiney off for the last six months. He started lessons with me almost three years ago, and this past March, we started down the fingerpicking path. He learned The Plain White T’s’ “Hey There Delilah,” … Continue reading

Posted in Student of the Month | Leave a comment

Student of the Month: Nicole

The August Student of the Month is seven-year-old ukulele player Nicole. She’s been playing for about a year, taking lessons here for the last three months. Nicole always brightens my day with her smiles and endless enthusiasm for learning new … Continue reading

Posted in Student of the Month | Leave a comment

How to Buy Your First Guitar

So you’re ready to start learning guitar (or maybe it’s your kid or another family member). Now you’ve got to buy one, and you have no idea what to look for. Fear not! This guide will help you find exactly … Continue reading

Posted in Advice, Beginner | Tagged | Leave a comment

Recital Videos: Spring 2014

The 2014 Spring Recital featured six of my students playing and singing some of their favorite songs. Way to go Caroline, Augie, Mark, Will, Rakefet, and Beckett! Watch the whole thing here: Individual videos: Caroline (7) – “Roar” by Katy … Continue reading

Posted in Student Showcases | Leave a comment

Student of the Month: Caroline C

Hooray for young Caroline C, the May 2014 Student of the Month! Caroline turned seven this year, and she’s been taking guitar lessons at Deft Digits since last fall. She has exceptionally varied tastes in music: Kelly Clarkson, Elizabeth Mitchell, … Continue reading

Posted in Student of the Month | Leave a comment

Student of the Month: Steve Nesbitt

April’s Student of the Month is Steve Nesbitt, a grownup who’s been studying jazz with me for the last several months. Steve has a background in classical guitar, and in recent years he’s been branching out to more popular styles. … Continue reading

Posted in Student of the Month | Leave a comment

Help Your Child Learn Guitar: 18 Handy Tips

Your child wants to learn to play guitar. How do you help them get the most out of it? As a guitar teacher of many kids, adults, and parent-child duos, I compiled a list of all the great things I … Continue reading

Posted in Advice | 2 Comments

Student of the Month: Rakefet Cooperman

Rakefet’s been taking guitar lessons for a year and a half now. She’s seven years old and already a rock star. Most guitarists, myself included, have a tough time adding vocals to the tricky new guitar skills we’re learning. Not … Continue reading

Posted in Student of the Month | Leave a comment

Student of the Month: Augie

February’s Student of the Month is eight-year-old Augie. The software engineer in me loves Augie’s intellectual approach to learning music. He’s always asking the important questions and making useful observations before I get a chance to point them out. Augie … Continue reading

Posted in Student of the Month | Leave a comment

“When You Say Nothing At All” Guitar Chords

Written by Paul Overstreet and Don Schlitz. As performed by Allison Krauss. Strumming: 1   +   2   +   3   +   4   +   Every chord is 1/2 measure (2 beats) unless otherwise noted.    … Continue reading

Posted in Chord Charts | Comments Off on “When You Say Nothing At All” Guitar Chords

Student of the Month: Jack Lewison

January’s Student of the Month is seven-year-old Jack Lewison, and he loves to rock. There’s never an energy shortage in the room when it’s his lesson time; he literally bounces off the walls when we don’t channel it all into … Continue reading

Posted in Student of the Month | Comments Off on Student of the Month: Jack Lewison

Recital Videos: Fall 2013

The very first Deft Digits Guitar Recital happened last Saturday, and I’m so proud of my students! They all worked their rears off to prepare for the event, and it was a first-time performance for most of them. Watch the … Continue reading

Posted in Student Showcases | Comments Off on Recital Videos: Fall 2013

“Private Idaho” Guitar Chords

Written by The B-52s. Capo: none Chorus Strumming: 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + You’re living in your own private Idaho Living in your own private Idaho Underground like a wild potato Don’t go on the patio Beware … Continue reading

Posted in Chord Charts | Leave a comment

Student of the Month: Andy Walker

Two years ago, my eldest cousin called me out of the blue and asked me to get him started playing guitar. Say hello to the November 2013 Student of the Month, Andy Walker. He’d never studied music before, so we … Continue reading

Posted in Student of the Month | Leave a comment

“The Scientist” – Guitar Chords

Written by Coldplay. As performed by Willie Nelson. Strumming: 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +     Come up to meet   you, tell you I’m so – rry You don’t know how lo  –   vely you are     … Continue reading

Posted in Chord Charts | Leave a comment

“Cups (When I’m Gone)” – Anna Kendrick – Guitar Chords

Written by A. P. Carter. As performed by Anna Kendrick. Capo: Fret 5 Strumming pattern: This sounds great with a single strum per chord, so start with that. Then try: 1 2 3 4 D-DU-UDU    I got my ticket … Continue reading

Posted in Chord Charts | 3 Comments

“The First Cut Is the Deepest” Guitar Chords

Written by Cat Stevens. As performed by Sheryl Crow. VERSE 1 I would have given you all   of my heart       But there’s someone who’s torn it apart       And he’s taking just all   that I have       … Continue reading

Posted in Chord Charts | Leave a comment

“Joy to the World” Guitar Chords

Capo: Anywhere you like, depending on the singer’s vocal range. First note to sing matches open G string. Strumming: Start with a single strum on each chord. Then try: 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & D-DUD-DUD-DUD-DU Joy to … Continue reading

Posted in Chord Charts | Leave a comment

“Frosty the Snowman” Guitar Chords

Capo: Anywhere you like, depending on the singer’s vocal range. First note to sing matches open D string. Strumming: Start with a single strum on each chord. Then try: 1 2 3 4 D-D-D-DU Frosty the Snowman was a jolly … Continue reading

Posted in Chord Charts | Leave a comment

“O Christmas Tree” Guitar Chords

Capo: Anywhere you like, depending on the singer’s vocal range. First note to sing matches open D string. Strumming: Start with a single strum on each chord. Then try: 1 2 3 DUD-D- O Christmas Tree O, Christmas Tree, Your … Continue reading

Posted in Chord Charts | Leave a comment

“Up on the Housetop” Guitar Chords

Capo: Anywhere you like, depending on the singer’s vocal range. First note to sing matches third fret on B string. Strumming: Start with a single strum on each chord. Then try: 1 2 3 4 D-DU-UDU Up on the housetop, … Continue reading

Posted in Chord Charts | Leave a comment

“Silent Night” Guitar Chords

Capo: Anywhere you like, depending on the singer’s vocal range. First note to sing matches open D string. Strumming: Start with a single strum on each chord. Also try slow, serene fingerpicking (no specific pattern necessary). Silent night! Holy night! … Continue reading

Posted in Chord Charts | Leave a comment

“Jingle Bells” Guitar Chords

Capo: Anywhere you like, depending on the singer’s vocal range. First note to sing matches open D string. Strumming: Start with a single strum on each chord. Then try: 1 2 3 4 B-D–UDU Dashing through the snow In a … Continue reading

Posted in Chord Charts | Leave a comment

Student of the Month: Beckett Muzia

Congratulations to 7-year-old Beckett Muzia, the October 2013 Student of the Month at Deft Digits. Beckett started lessons with me a little over a year ago with his shiny red mini-Strat. He has since conquered songs by Arcade Fire, Florence … Continue reading

Posted in Student of the Month | Leave a comment

“Deck the Halls” Guitar Chords

Capo: Anywhere you like, depending on the singer’s vocal range. First note to sing matches third fret on B string. Strumming: Start with a single strum on each chord. I think that sounds great. Try hitting every downbeat as a … Continue reading

Posted in Chord Charts | Leave a comment

Discover a Guitarist: Andy McKee

This eleventh installment of the Discover a Guitarist series is a guest post from Danny Bellow of Pro Music Tutor. Discovering Andy McKee Andy McKee is one of the world’s leading guitar players. In fact, I’m going to go ahead … Continue reading

Posted in Discover a Guitarist | Leave a comment

Student of the Month: Claire Curtis

The September 2013 Student of the Month is Claire Curtis! At nine years old, Claire is one of my most creative students; she’s constantly writing her own songs. Influenced by a winding journey through The Beatles, Lady Gaga, Journey, Kelly … Continue reading

Posted in Student of the Month | Leave a comment

5 Beginner Electric Blues Licks

When I have a student interested in learning blues solos on electric guitar, these are the five lick-building blocks I give them. Each exercise is only two or three notes, but they can be linked in endless combinations to create … Continue reading

Posted in Beginner, Blues, Technique, Videos | Leave a comment

The 5 Major Scale Positions

This article serves as a reference for navigating major scales all over the guitar fretboard. (Recommended prerequisite knowledge: The CAGED System, Scale Degrees vs. Intervals.) Scale Definition The major scale uses scale degrees 1 2 3 4 5 6 7. … Continue reading

Posted in Intermediate, Theory | 5 Comments

Diagonal Pentatonics

I’ve encountered countless intermediate guitar players who find themselves stuck inside the pentatonic box. They’ve learned some of the standard “box” shapes, derived from the CAGED System, for the major pentatonic and minor pentatonic scales, but now they find they … Continue reading

Posted in Intermediate, Theory | 1 Comment

Student of the Month: Will Ferguson

Congratulations to Will Ferguson, 14, the August 2013 Deft Digits student of the month! Will came to me in January 2012 already knowing how to play several classic tunes like “Smoke on the Water,” “Wild Thing,” “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” … Continue reading

Posted in Student of the Month | 1 Comment

The 5 Major Pentatonic Positions

This article serves as a reference for navigating major pentatonic scales all over the guitar fretboard. See also The 5 Minor Pentatonic Positions. (Recommended prerequisite knowledge: Intro to the Minor Pentatonic Scale, The CAGED System, Scale Degrees vs. Intervals.) Scale … Continue reading

Posted in Intermediate, Theory | Leave a comment

The 5 Minor Pentatonic Positions

This article serves as a reference for navigating minor pentatonic scales all over the guitar fretboard. See also The 5 Major Pentatonic Positions. (Recommended prerequisite knowledge: Intro to the Minor Pentatonic Scale, The CAGED System, Scale Degrees vs. Intervals.) Scale … Continue reading

Posted in Intermediate, Theory | 2 Comments

Student of the Month: Mia McKey

Congratulations to Mia McKey, the second-ever Deft Digits student of the month. Mia has been taking lessons at Deft Digits along with her two brothers and their mom since February 2012. She’s always had an impressive knack for picking up … Continue reading

Posted in Student of the Month | Leave a comment

Understanding Chord Symbols

Ever been baffled by a complex chord symbol? D#m11b5 got you scratching your head? Fear not; your problems are about to be history! Continue reading

Posted in Intermediate, Theory | Leave a comment

Scale Degrees vs. Intervals

Intervals are a great way to get started in music theory. They describe the distance between any two notes, and they allow you to think and communicate about music in a more sensible manner. Scale degrees, while often not distinguished … Continue reading

Posted in Intermediate, Theory | 3 Comments

Intervals on the Guitar: The Key to Fretboard Music Theory

One of the first steps in understanding any kind of music theory is understanding intervals. An interval is a distance between two notes. Not a physical distance, but a distance in pitch. Guitars (and pianos) make visualizing this distance easy; … Continue reading

Posted in Intermediate, Theory | Leave a comment

Student of the Month: Lucca Burgess

Exciting announcement! Starting this month, June 2013, I’ll be featuring a profile on one Deft Digits student as “Student of the Month.” The very first one is nine-year-old Lucca Burgess. Lucca and his Dad, Nat, have been taking guitar lessons … Continue reading

Posted in Student of the Month | 1 Comment

3 Easy (But Powerful) Alternate Picking Exercises

Alternate picking between strings is tricky. On a single string, even a beginner can economize picking motion and nail tunes like “Miserlou” and “Thunderstruck” after just a few weeks of intensive practice. Pumping the pick at that speed through different … Continue reading

Posted in Intermediate, Technique, Videos | 4 Comments

8 Ways to Practice Guitar Scales

Know some guitar scales? With each new scale position you learn, here are eight simple ways to practice it into perfection.

Posted in Advice, Intermediate, Practicing, Videos | 2 Comments

New “Recommended Products” Pages

I’m happy to announce a new Recommended Products section of the website today. Over the last year and a half of the Deft Digits existence, I’ve had so many students ask me about instruments, accessories, and books that I knew … Continue reading

Posted in News | 2 Comments

Intro to Chord-Tone Soloing

Ever wonder why certain notes in a guitar solo sound so good? Learn how to nail those satisfying notes every time in this video lesson, made for one of my Seattle students, Chris.

Posted in Intermediate, Rock, Videos | 4 Comments

Bluesy Chromatic Notes

Here’s a tutorial on augmenting your standard minor pentatonic approach to include a few extra spicy notes. Made for one of my Skype students, Todd.

Posted in Blues, Intermediate, Videos | Leave a comment

The “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” Riff

I made a video for a student out sick last week. I explain how to play the tricky riff on Taylor Swift’s new song, “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.” Here are the four chords used, notated with fret … Continue reading

Posted in Intermediate, Videos | Leave a comment

A Beautiful Muse Chord Progression

I heard the track “Explorers” from the new Muse album last week. They used a really pretty chord progression on the outro that caught my ear. Here’s a quick lesson on it! Here are all the chords I used in … Continue reading

Posted in Intermediate, Repertoire, Videos | Leave a comment

How to Embellish Guitar Chords

Have you ever heard a guitarist take a song with otherwise plain vanilla open chords and squeeze new life out of them with subtle embellishments? In this article (and video series), I’ll show you how to spice up the same … Continue reading

Posted in Intermediate, Theory, Videos | Tagged | Leave a comment

This Should Be Easy, But It’s Not

Have you ever tried doing something new on the guitar, and it was far trickier than you anticipated? “This should be easy! Why can’t my fingers just do it?” Frustration aside, these are big moments in your musical development. Any … Continue reading

Posted in Advice | Tagged | Leave a comment

4 Fingerings for the Open A Chord

If you’re busy learning your open chords, it’s likely that you’ve harbored ill feelings toward the A chord at some point. The conventional fingering is tricky because you need to cram three fingers into the space of one fret on … Continue reading

Posted in Beginner, Technique, Videos | 2 Comments

Jimmy Page’s Monster Pentatonic Lick

In this video lesson, I break down one of my all-time favorite rock licks. Jimmy Page played it in a live solo on “Black Dog,” which can be heard on the Led Zeppelin album, How the West Was Won. It … Continue reading

Posted in Intermediate, Rock, Videos | Leave a comment

Chord-Changing Exercise

Here’s a little chord-changing exercise that will help you move between chords much faster. If you’ve been frustrated by how long it takes your fretting fingers to make the switch from one chord to another, this exercise is for you. … Continue reading

Posted in Beginner, Practicing, Technique, Videos | 2 Comments

Seattle Ukulele Lessons

In addition to the guitar lessons I’ve been teaching for the last few years, I’m now also offering ukulele lessons in my Seattle studio. I learned how to play the ukulele several years ago, but haven’t tried teaching it until … Continue reading

Posted in News | 1 Comment

Mistakes Are Good for You

Huh? Read that title again. Mistakes really are good for you. Every mistake you make is a little red flag saying, “Want to become a better guitarist? Spend some time right here! Fix me!” Check out this now-famous video of … Continue reading

Posted in Advanced, Advice, Beginner, Intermediate | Tagged | 2 Comments

The Guitarist’s Essentials

I don’t like rules. These are not rules. These are my top pieces of advice for guitar students of all ages and skill levels. I use these strategies relentlessly in my own playing. Use a Tuner Keep your guitar as … Continue reading

Posted in Advanced, Advice, Beginner, Essentials, Intermediate | Tagged | 3 Comments

Fretboard Twister

Here’s an awesome little finger exercise for guitar. I call it “Fretboard Twister,” because it works just like the popular Twister game. Instead of moving your hands and feet to different spots on a floor mat, you’ll be moving your … Continue reading

Posted in Intermediate, Practicing | Tagged | Leave a comment

How to Practice Chords: Hit the Bullseye

Practicing guitar chords is very much like practicing darts. When playing through songs, you often need to strum a chord the instant your fingers land on the strings. There’s no extra time to make adjustments and get the chord re-fingered … Continue reading

Posted in Advanced, Beginner, Intermediate, Practicing | Tagged | Leave a comment

Guitar Lessons at Off the Wall School of Music

I’m thrilled to announce that in addition to teaching guitar lessons on Skype and in my Seattle studio, I am now also teaching at Off the Wall School of Music in Wallingford. Since 2010, they’ve been offering lessons on piano, … Continue reading

Posted in News | Leave a comment

The Mother of All Major Scale Exercises – Part 4 of 4

The final episode in the “Mother of All Major Scale Exercises” series is here. (Check out Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 first.) Part 4 combines parts 2 and 3, moving through the Cycle of Fourths with every position … Continue reading

Posted in Advanced, Practicing, Videos | Tagged | Leave a comment

The Mother of All Major Scale Exercises – Part 3 of 4

The “Mother of All Major Scale Exercises” series gets even tougher with Part 3. (Check out Part 1 and Part 2 first.) This new iteration of the exercise takes the zig-zagging up and down the fretboard from Part 1 and … Continue reading

Posted in Advanced, Practicing, Videos | Tagged | 1 Comment

How to Memorize and Use the Cycle of Fourths

The Cycle of Fourths (a.k.a. “Circle of Fifths” or “Cycle of Fifths” or “Circle of Fourths”) is a representation of all 12 notes in the chromatic scale, arranged into a circle. It’s most commonly used to easily find the notes … Continue reading

Posted in Intermediate, Theory | Tagged | 11 Comments

New Tool: Capo Calculator

I’ve written a new web tool! Check out the Capo Calculator. Choose any set of chords from any song you’re learning or writing or you already love to play, and the Capo Calculator will show you the best places for … Continue reading

Posted in News | 1 Comment

The Mother of All Major Scale Exercises – Part 2 of 4

Part 2 of “The Mother of All Major Scale Exercises” will be a little harder than Part 1. (Make sure you check out Part 1 before diving into this.) Now we limit the exercise to two strings at a time, … Continue reading

Posted in Advanced, Practicing, Videos | Tagged | Leave a comment

The Mother of All Major Scale Exercises – Part 1 of 4

A few years ago, I developed what I call “The Mother of All Major Scale Exercises.” It’s divided into four parts. In the video above, I walk you through Part 1. (You can see a brief explanation of the whole … Continue reading

Posted in Advanced, Practicing, Videos | Tagged | 9 Comments

The World’s Most-Used Guitar Scale: A Minor Pentatonic

The A minor pentatonic scale is probably the most-used, most-heard, most-seen, and most-demonstrated scale in the rock guitar world. Video instructors use it constantly as the launching point for demonstrating all kinds of pentatonic scale ideas. A minor is a … Continue reading

Posted in Beginner, Rock, Theory | Tagged | 19 Comments

Grip Strength Training for Guitarists

One of the surest ways to make guitar playing easier is to supplement your practicing with grip strength training. There are several popular methods for improving your hand strength, and they’ll all help your guitar playing in subtle ways no … Continue reading

Posted in Advice, Intermediate | Tagged | 2 Comments

Deft Digits Guitar Picks

In case you hadn’t noticed, Deft Digits Guitar Lessons got a spanking new logo this month. (I had it done at MycroBurst, and was very happy with the results.) To celebrate, I gave myself an awesome Christmas gift: custom guitar … Continue reading

Posted in News | 2 Comments

Discover a Guitarist: Nels Cline

This is the tenth installment of the Discover a Guitarist series. How I Discovered Nels Cline I can’t remember how I first heard of Nels Cline (b. 1956). It was probably around 2004, when I played in the jazz band … Continue reading

Posted in Discover a Guitarist | Tagged | 1 Comment

Practice What You Love

You know what you ought to practice. Maybe you have a short list or a long list. My list would last me several lifetimes if I had them. But do you love practicing what you “ought” to practice? Or does … Continue reading

Posted in Advice, Intermediate | Tagged | 3 Comments

Your Fingers Are Just Fine

Every beginning guitarist I’ve taught has lamented the supposed inadequacy of his/her fingers. Some are too short, some are too fat, some are too skinny, some don’t bend the right way, some are too weak. Don’t let these things get … Continue reading

Posted in Advice, Beginner | 9 Comments

The CAGED System

The CAGED System for guitar is a method for understanding the fretboard by dividing it into five overlapping chunks. Its name is derived from the five basic major open chords: C, A, G, E, and D. (I’ll explain why they’re … Continue reading

Posted in Intermediate, Theory | Tagged | 4 Comments

The Magic Guitar Position

If you’re new to the guitar, you’ve probably been frustrated a few times trying to stretch your fingers out to fret the different notes in a chord. Over time, your fingers will improve at doing this, and those chords will … Continue reading

Posted in Advice, Beginner, Intermediate | Tagged | 10 Comments

The Deft Digits Tea Station

Displayed in the photograph to the right is the “Tea Station” in the Deft Digits Guitar Lessons lobby. All students, parents, and guests are offered a cup of tea upon entering the teaching studio. It’s proving to be a big … Continue reading

Posted in News | 2 Comments

Guitar Lessons for Christmas!

Is there a musician in your family? Perhaps a young rocker who’s dying to make some noise? Or a veteran guitar hobbyist who could use a little nudge toward rediscovering a love of the instrument? I present to you the … Continue reading

Posted in News | Leave a comment

31 Ideas for a Guitarist in a Rut

Every guitarist lands in a rut once in a while. While disciplined diligence might allow some people to work their way out, there’s always an easier path. Try some of the ideas below, and you might skip the giant staircase … Continue reading

Posted in Advice, Intermediate | Tagged | 14 Comments

Discover a Guitarist: Guthrie Govan

This ninth installment of the Discover a Guitarist series is a guest post from Mark McGuigan. Around five years ago, the majority of the guitar world was unaware of a truly exceptional guitar player from the UK – a quiet, … Continue reading

Posted in Discover a Guitarist | 1 Comment

3 Books Every Intermediate Guitarist Should Own

I love guitar books. I have about 50 of them lined up on in a bookcase in my teaching studio. I acquired them over the last 12 years, and I have twice that amount sitting in my Amazon wish list. … Continue reading

Posted in Intermediate, Reviews | Tagged | 10 Comments

Discover a Guitarist: Prince

This eighth installment of the Discover a Guitarist series is a guest post from Jason Priest of Little Rock Jams. When Joe suggested the “Discover a Guitarist” series and asked if I would write an article, my first thought was, … Continue reading

Posted in Discover a Guitarist | 5 Comments

Discover a Guitarist: John Petrucci

This seventh installment of the Discover a Guitarist series is a guest post from Josh Urban of The Doghouse. John Petrucci – Cue the epic soundtrack – it’s the name that strikes fear into the hearts of the anti-heroes and … Continue reading

Posted in Discover a Guitarist | 3 Comments

Discover a Guitarist: Buddy Guy

This sixth installment of the Discover a Guitarist series is a guest post from Donnie Schexnayder of Start Teaching Guitar. One of my all-time favorite blues guitar players is the legendary Buddy Guy. He started out playing in Chicago during … Continue reading

Posted in Discover a Guitarist | 2 Comments

Intro to Jazz Guitar Clinic

I taught a 90-minute “Intro to Jazz Guitar” clinic at Hamilton International Middle School yesterday. I met the band director several months ago when he bought my saxophone via Craigslist. He discovered that I’d studied jazz guitar, and he asked … Continue reading

Posted in Advice, Jazz, Theory | Tagged | Leave a comment

Discover a Guitarist: Kazuhito Yamashita

This fifth installment of the Discover a Guitarist series is a guest post from George Pepper of A Monk’s Musical Musings. How I Discovered Kazuhito Yamashita First of all I’d like to thank Joe for this invitation, as I consider … Continue reading

Posted in Discover a Guitarist | Leave a comment

Discover a Guitarist: Tommy Emmanuel

This fourth installment of the Discover a Guitarist series is a guest post from Jon Bloomer of Guitar Noize. How I Discovered Tommy Emmanuel Tommy Emmanuel is one of Australia’s most highly respected guitar players with a career spanning five … Continue reading

Posted in Discover a Guitarist | 2 Comments

Discover a Guitarist: Clarence White

This third installment of the Discover a Guitarist series is a guest post from Dave Jacoby of Sans Direction. How I Discovered Clarence White First, there was bluegrass. I got exposed to bluegrass in college around 1992, hearing the Seldom … Continue reading

Posted in Discover a Guitarist | 6 Comments

Discover a Guitarist: Scott Henderson

This second installment of the Discover a Guitarist series is a guest post from JP Holesworth of the Stratoblogster Guitar Blog. How I Discovered Scott Henderson I discovered Scott Henderson in the mid-1980s on bassist Jeff Berlin’s Players and Champion … Continue reading

Posted in Discover a Guitarist | 2 Comments

Discover a Guitarist: Stevie Ray Vaughan

With this post, I commence a new series on the Deft Digits blog: Discover a Guitarist. Each post in the series (inspired by John Horne’s great article, 70 Guitarists You Really Should Know About) will profile one prominent player from … Continue reading

Posted in Discover a Guitarist | Tagged | 4 Comments

New Online Study Tool: Custom Flash Cards

Today I release my latest online tool: Custom Flash Cards. It’s great for training brains and hands in any skill, but was made specifically for musicians who seek to master music theory, chords, scales, arpeggios, licks, you name it. These … Continue reading

Posted in Practicing, Tools | 3 Comments

Why Learn Music Theory?

Learning music theory is essential for recreating and communicating musical ideas. While some great professional musicians are known to have skipped conventional music theory entirely, they’ll always be handicapped, unable to articulate musical ideas other than by playing or humming. … Continue reading

Posted in Beginner, Intermediate, Theory | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The Easiest Intro to Music Theory

The major scale is the root of all music theory. Know it well, and the rest of music theory will become easier than you thought possible. Everything else relates back to the major scale, so it’s crucial to be familiar … Continue reading

Posted in Beginner, Theory | Tagged | 6 Comments

How to Find Major and Minor Chords All Over the Guitar

One of the keys to unlocking the guitar fretboard is being able to play the same thing in different places. A great way to get started on this path is learning how to find every major and minor chord everywhere … Continue reading

Posted in Intermediate | Tagged | 6 Comments

8 Essential Open Chords and How to Use Them

What is an open chord? Technically, it’s any chord employing at least one open string. With that definition, you could make thousands. However, the term “open chord” usually refers to one of only eight basic open chords, which I’ll cover … Continue reading

Posted in Beginner | Tagged | 7 Comments

Know Every Note on the Guitar in 9 Days

Knowing every note on the guitar is a challenge unique to the instrument. A saxophone has only one way to finger each note, while a guitar usually has a few different strings and four fingers to choose from. String a … Continue reading

Posted in Intermediate, Theory | Tagged | 55 Comments

Listen to Everything

How many distinct sounds can you hear right now? Try to be consciously aware of all of them at once. Continue reading

Posted in Advice, Essentials | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

How to Hold a Guitar Pick

Proper picking technique is one of the most-discussed aspects of guitar playing. The overlooked truth is that there are as many picking techniques as there are guitar players. A quick look at some of the fastest pickers out there will … Continue reading

Posted in Advice, Beginner, Intermediate | Tagged | 5 Comments

Always Take Notes

I encourage all of my guitar students to take notes during lessons. I provide frequent handouts and digital materials, but these are supplementary to the student’s own understanding. Continue reading

Posted in Advice | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

3 Easy Ways to Sound Great on Guitar

The three easiest ways to sound great on guitar are also the easiest to overlook. At any skill level, even if it’s your first day, pay attention to these elements of your playing, and you’ll immediately stand out. Continue reading

Posted in Advice, Beginner | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Welcome to Deft Digits

I hereby announce the launch of Deft Digits Guitar Lessons. Deft Digits is the teaching business of guitarist Joe Walker. That’s me. I’ve been playing and teaching since 1998, and I just moved from Southern California back to my hometown, … Continue reading

Posted in News | Leave a comment