Robert Johnson Guitar DVD
taught by Scott Ainslie

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Acoustic Guitar Article and Videos

The November 2009 issue of Acoustic Guitar Magazine features Scott's article on Robert Johnson with TAB and accompanying video clips.

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There is no doubt that Scott Ainslie’s book Robert Johnson/At The Crossroads is as fine a work of scholarship on Johnson’s technique as exists. Now, Ainslie has transferred this scholarship to DVD format and what is most apparent when viewing these seven songs (Kindhearted Woman Blues, Sweet Home Chicago, Drunken Hearted Man, Ramblin’ On My Mind, Walkin’ Blues, Come On In My Kitchen, and Crossroads Blues) is how completely he has mastered the most difficult aspect of Johnson’s style. That aspect is not about technique, per se, it’s about nuance.

-Acoustic Musician

Robert Johnson’s
Guitar Techniques
taught by Scott Ainslie

There is no doubt that Scott Ainslie’s book Robert Johnson/At The Crossroads is as fine a work of scholarship on Johnson’s technique as exists. Now, Ainslie has transferred this scholarship to DVD format and what is most apparent when viewing these seven songs (Kindhearted Woman Blues, Sweet Home Chicago, Drunken Hearted Man, Ramblin’ On My Mind, Walkin’ Blues, Come On In My Kitchen, and Crossroads Blues) is how completely he has mastered the most difficult aspect of Johnson’s style. That aspect is not about technique, per se, it’s about nuance.

Nuance will never hit you over the head, will it? There is a large amount of music, totally devoid of nuance. By this measure, an instructional video which helps the viewer understand something as complex and nebulous as the subtleties of Robert Johnson (a player who may be the most important blues musician who ever lived) is a notable achievement.

More precisely, Ainslie has locked on to Johnson’s rhythm and that’s something which has baffled many a guitarist in their attempts to play Delta Blues with some authenticity. Of course, to develop one’s own style and nuance should be every musician’s aspiration and I suppose copying Johnson’s every move is the antithesis of this. At the same time, you could never argue that transcribing solos and imitating the styles of great players inhibits musical growth.

The only pertinent question the DVD format really poses is; is learning better facilitated by having someone show you how, which is no doubt quicker and a lot more accurate (at least at the beginning) or is it better to endeavor to do it yourself, with all the struggle that entails, yet with perhaps a greater sense of satisfaction?

However you choose to look at it, one thing remains constant, Scott Ainslie’s work continues to be of very high calibre. Keep in mind thought, I doubt he reached his level of proficiency solely by watching DVDs.

–Acoustic Musician Magazine