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Todd Albright’s 12 String Country Blues Guitar

Todd Albright is a country blues, twelve string guitar player and vocalist based in Detroit, Michigan. Grounded in the pre-war era of the blues tradition (1880-1939), Todd is a mindful purveyor of blues history. His repertoire upholds musical pillars such as Blind Willie McTell, George Carter, Blind Lemon Jefferson and Leadbelly. His life’s work continues the distinguished tradition of the very roots of American music as told by the African American musicians who created it.  Todd's vigorous, gritty and soulful performances are accompanied by stories

Todd's vigorous, gritty and soulful performances are accompanied by stories of the masters and a deep intuitive sense of respect for craft, providing a meaningful experience while creating a transcendent moment. One of the top blues guitarists in the world, Todd is the only contemporary twelve string player in his genre.


Todd began playing the blues while still a teenager, some twenty-five years ago. Initially, he was drawn to the sound of the finger-picked style and has since immersed himself in the foundational music and narratives of American culture.


Todd's first full-length LP, Fourth Floor Visitor, was released by Jett Plastic Recordings out of Detroit, Michigan (2017). His latest album, Detroit Twelve String: Blues & Rags, is out now on Third Man Records (2017). 

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    Todd Albright’s 12 String Country Blues Guitar

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    “Many musicians can cop the notes played by blues and ragtime greats, but few contemporary guitarists are as successful at conveying the unscripted energy and driving feel of this music as Todd Albright… Todd relies on long-scale 12-string guitars like the Regals and Stellas used by many of his main inspirations in the 1920s and ’30s. These ladder-braced guitars were meant to be tuned low and played with heavy gauge strings. Playing in a variety of baritone tunings is not only a nearly lost art, it’s a direct way for Albright to keep the music of Lead Belly, Blind Willie McTell and Barbecue Bob, not just alive, but vital.” – Acoustic Guitar

    This lesson explores my approach and techniques for playing the 12-string guitar. I will be tuning the guitar down to C in Standard tuning, and Vestapol in the key of Bb. This should make the lesson accessible to those who want to learn the arrangements with a six string rather than a 12 string guitar. The material presented is in no way note for note by the original artist on the original recordings, but offers a look at how to develop a style within the tradition. Paul Geremia once described his position as, “playing the music so that if the original artist were to walk in the door he would know it was his song being played. ‘Keep the intrinsic beauty as best you can and eventually you’ll wind up with your own style.’ And it’s in this sprit that we put this lesson together.” – Todd Albright

    Each tune is taught phrase by phrase and played slowly on a split-screen. A detailed tab/music booklet is included as a PDF file on the DVD. The Bonus Audio section includes source recordings.

    Tunes include: Rising River Blues, Delia, Kill It Kid, Leavin’ Blues, My Money Never Runs Out, Stomp Down Rider, Sweet Mary Blues, Savannah Mama, and Train That Carried My Girl From Town

    113 minutes - Level 2/3 - Detailed tab/music PDF file on the DVD

    Review: For two thunderous hours, Todd Albright actually shows you how to drive a locomotive. How to throw open the throttle and chug the massive momentum from a dozen strings on down the line through Blind Willie McTell’s “Kill It Kid.” How to not only harness but maneuver, with equal parts finesse and brute force, that excess of horsepower through the stuttering rhythm demanded of ol’ George Carter’s “Rising River Blues” or the passing vistas offered during Lead Belly’s “Sweet Mary Blues.” Yet, for all the rumble and roar, Albright, whose mastery over beastly vintage Stellas and Regals caught Jack White’s ear at Third Man Records and a ride on Cedric Burnside’s tour bus, teaches 12-String Country Blues Guitar from the sanctity of his parlor.

    The wall of sound makes nine whistle stops: More Lead Belly (“Leavin’ Blues”). Three more McTell mementos (counting “Savannah Mama,” decorated with flamenco flourishes and the zing of slide). The jug band stomp “My Money Never Runs Out” puts fingers through prewar paces just as much. However, the juggernaut among juggernauts is “Train That Carried My Girl From Town,” still running on a head of bottlenecked steam just as on the day Frank Hutchinson first pulled it out of the station in 1926. Each song details, step-by-step, just how to flood the room with a sea of richly ringing notes. Although Albright’s lesson can be likewise applied to six strings (thanks to adjusted tunings), there is no better way to get your Lead Belly or Blind Willie on than with the full armament of 12 bulldozing strings. – Dennis Rozanski/Blues Rag




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