Beginning Lead Guitar for Folk Players
Johnny Harper

This workshop will be valuable for all guitarists who have some experience accompanying folk, and folk-like, songs in several keys, who know basic chords and hopefully at least have a little experience with “bar” chords, and who want to learn to move into tasteful lead guitar fills, licks, solos, and melody lines played up the neck.

Johnny Harper, a very accomplished professional lead guitarist with deep roots in folk and folk-based styles, has been teaching these techniques to private students for many years. Covered in the workshop will be such topics as using movable 3 and 4-string chord shapes as a basis for lead figures; the major pentatonic scale played from chord shapes as a source of sounds-good-every time lead licks and simple solos; hand positions allowing you to move up and down the neck smoothly in major pentatonic scale lines; great-sounding lead figures played in semi-chordal “parallel 6ths” voicings; and some discussion of the difference between using these techniques in major-key folk and country flavored songs, vs. in the blues or in a blues-based tonality.

Bring your guitar and, if you can, a tuner, so we take as little time as possible to get everybody tuned up! Handouts will be provided, summarizing the material covered. If you have a portable recording device, you’re encouraged to bring it and record the workshop.

Johnny Harper has been teaching private lessons in a wide variety of American folk/ roots guitar styles – folk and blues finger-picking, country flat-picking, lead guitar in many different idioms (blues, rock & roll, country, soul, folk, “etc.”) – for over 25 years. He is also an accomplished performer and studio musician, well known for leading his own bands, and for playing lead guitar with well-known artists like Maria Muldaur, Barbara Dane, Kathy Kallick, Katie Webster, Queen Ida, and many more. See more information on Johnny under another workshop he is teaching at this year’s Festival (“Folk & Roots-Rock Styles In Today’s World”), and at You can also contact Johnny with questions at, or at 510-710-5969.