Stefan Grossman's Guitar Workshop Instructional and Historical DVDs Books and Materials
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Buster B. Jones

Born Bradley F. Jones in Ames, Iowa, he first became known after entering Guitar Player Magazine's International Reader's Soundpage Competition in 1988 on a whim. He submitted an original composition, titled Back Porch Boogie, as well as a cover of Salty Dog Blues, recorded using a reel-to-reel recorder and then transferred to cassette using a boombox. Jones came in first place out of nearly 900 entries. He went on to win the National Fingerpicking Championship at Winfield, Kansas in 1990.

In 1995, Jones became a spokesman for Godin guitars, playing a custom instrument he named "Pearl" for the mother of pearl inlay of his name on the neck. He toured often, earning the nicknames "Le Machine Gun" and "Pistola" for his fast playing style. That same style earned the notice of Chet Atkins, who described Buster by saying; "Buster B. Jones is the best fingerpicker I've heard since Jerry Reed... He plays like he's double parked." 

Buster loved to perform and teach. He recorded ten instructional DVDs that passed on his knowledge of the fingerboard and the playing of the great country legends Merle Travis, Chet Atkins and Jerry Reed. He passed away in 2009. Buster would say at the end of each lesson: "If you ever see me anywhere, I hope you come up and shake my hand so I can tell people I know you."
 
Tablature is available as a PDF file for each lesson. Lessons are filmed with multiple cameras and consist of a performance, explanation, and conclude with a slow tempo split screen that follows the tab/music. 

 

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Buster B. Jones Single Song Downloads


All I Need Is You Babe
Level: 3
Tuning: Standard

In this lesson Buster uses "All I Need Is You Babe" in the key of C as a vehicle to demonstrate the variation in technique between the legends of fingerstyle guitar, Merle Travis, Chet Atkins, and Jerry Reed. Buster refers to this lineage as the legacy and evolution of fingerstyle guitar. This is a great insight into the differences in approach that Travis, Atkins, and Reed would take, and how Buster uses these in his playing and thinking on the guitar.


 


Back Porch Boogie
Level: 4
Tuning: Standard

Buster's original take on a bluesy boogie in the key of E, which he wrote on his back porch. Ultimately this arrangement helped him win the 1989 Guitar Player Magazine contest. The introduction begins with a simple boogie, flat picked on the bass strings and develops into a more driving, swinging feel, emulating a "big band." With the voices of the walking bass, chords, and melody being played simultaneously across all six strings this arrangement is full of multiple moving parts, with some difficult stretches to maneuver. Technically this is a great chance to develop more dexterity, learn a blues, and to sound even more like one-person big band.

 


Bye Bye Blue Bell
Level: 3
Tuning: Standard

Here is a great composition written by fingerstyle guitar pioneer Merle Travis. This song is sometimes called "Goodbye My Blue Bell,'""Farewell My Blue Bell" or simply "Blue Bell." It is played in the key of C major. The song is played with a heavy muffled thumb (boom-chick) on the right hand, sweeping two strings at a time when alternating. Buster teaches his arrangements, full of variations, which draw inspiration from Merle Travis and Chet Atkins, demonstrating how to play the song using just thumb and index finger of the right hand. This is a great Travis picking tune to add into your repertoire.

 


Do You Hear What I Hear
Level: 2
Tuning: Standard

"Do You Hear What I Hear" is a wonderful tune written by No̩l Regney and Gloria Shayne Baker. It has become a very popular tune in the Christmas music repertoire. Buster teaches a wonderful arrangement of the tune in the key of A major with some very nice moving lines on both the bass and treble strings. This arrangement is simple and straight forward, channeling the beautiful melody and harmony of the original tune. 

 


Down Home
Level: 4
Tuning: Standard

"Down Home" is a bluesy composition in the key of A, written by Jerry (Reed) Hubbard. Chet Atkins recorded this song on multiple albums throughout his career, including "Our Man In Nashville," "Chet Atkins Picks On Jerry Reed," "Nashville Gold" and "Country Gentleman." The piece is another outstanding gem from "Guitar Man," Jerry Reed. Played by a wide spectrum of fingerstyle players, it is full of great chords, clever harmonies, moving bass lines, a memorable melody, and some very hip sweeping licks. "Down Home" is a wonderful song to add into your repertoire.

 


God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
Level: 3
Tuning: Standard

In this lesson Buster teaches a hauntingly beautiful rendition of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" in the key of E minor. He begins the ballad with a rubato, single string melody on the top two strings, then adds a descending bass line with the melody for a Classical sound and feel. Moving on into the body of the tune he chooses some great harmonies and rhythms to make the song swing. This arrangement is a wonderful unique tune to add to your Christmas repertoire.


 


I'll See You In My Dreams
Level: 3
Tuning: Standard

Here is a brilliant standard written by Isham Jones and Gus Kahn, published in 1924. This tune stands as an anthem among fingerstyle guitarists, made popular in the guitar world by Merle Travis and Chet Atkins. Buster teaches his wonderful arrangement of "I'll See You In My Dreams" utilizing the muffled, alternating bass technique, playing bass, chords, and melody seamlessly. This is an essential tune to learn and have under your fingers.


 


In The Garden
Level: 2/3
Tuning: Dropped D

"In the Garden" (sometimes rendered by its first line "I Come to the Garden Alone" is a gospel song written by American songwriter C. Austin Miles (1868-1946), a former pharmacist who served as editor and manager at Hall-Mack publishers for 37 years. According to Miles' great-granddaughter, the song was written "in a cold, dreary and leaky basement in Pitman, New Jersey that didn't even have a window in it let alone a view of a garden." The song was first published in 1912 and popularized during the Billy Sunday evangelistic campaigns of the early twentieth century by two members of his staff, Homer Rodeheaver and Virginia Asher.

It has been recorded by Roy Rogers and Dale Evans to Elvis Presley. Buster's arrangement is played in a Dropped D tuning.



Jerry's Breakdown
Level: 4
Tuning: Standard

"Jerry's Breakdown," one of the most popular, sought after instrumentals written by Jerry (Reed) Hubbard. This tune is played primarily using banjo roll techniques on the top four strings of the guitar. Buster teaches the right hand techniques Jerry used with open and closed strings, as well as some valuable exercises to practice, helping make this challenging song attainable to learn. This arrangement is in the key of E, with some very clever, efficient fingerings on the left and right hands from Buster, making it slightly less difficult to play.


 


Jiffy Jam
Level: 3
Tuning: Standard

"Jiffy Jam" is a wonderful tune written by Jerry (Reed) Hubbard, in the Key of E. The song incorporates clever use of open strings, walking bass lines, slides, and pull-offs, constantly utilizing the range of bass and treble strings. Buster teaches his rendition with very efficient movements and fingerings, helping the player execute the song with more fluidity and less difficulty.


 


Jingle Bell Rock
Level: 3
Tuning: Standard

"Jingle Bell Rock" is an American popular Christmas song first released by Bobby Helms in 1957. It has received frequent airplay in the United States during every Christmas season since then. "Jingle Bell Rock" was composed by Joseph Carleton Beal and James Ross Boothe. Buster's arrangement is played in the key of A. It is challenging but lots of fun to play and perfect for a snowy Christmas evening celebration.



Lady Madonna
Level: 3
Tuning: Standard

This a wonderful rendition of the Beatles hit "Lady Madonna," written by Paul McCartney and John Lennon. Chet Atkins had a wonderful arrangement of this tune, which he recorded on his 1968 album "Solid Gold." Buster's arrangement draws heavily from Atkins' version, playing the bass part and melody simultaneously. As well as breaking down the song note by note, piece by piece, Buster also teaches the virtuosic "Super Lick" sweeping arpeggio technique which adds some flare to the tune.


 


Live At Five
Level: 4
Tuning: DADGBD

This is another powerful composition that Buster would categorize as a "Barn Burner," or a "a fast hard hittin' song." "Live at Five" is one of Buster's defining tunes, full of power, groove and very high energy. It is played in a double-drop D tuning. Technically the song is driven by the right hand, double picking, double stops and absolute control of dynamics / volume. This one is all about the groove!

 


Lord Mr. Ford
Level: 3
Tuning: Open G Tuning

Here is another popular Jerry Reed tune that was known for it's lyrics, vocals, driving groove, and characteristic licks. Buster focuses on teaching the familiar hook used in the tune, the dominant 7th chord voicing used throughout the arrangement, and the unmistakable funky groove this song is known for. Buster's breakdown gives insight into the picking patterns Jerry used in the as well as some insight into how to embellish on the techniques used in the arrangement.

 


Me and Bobby McGee
Level: 3
Tuning: Standard

"Me and Bobby McGee" is a wonderful tune written by Kris Kristofferson and Fred Foster in the late 1960s. Buster teaches a beautiful arrangement of the tune inspired by Chet Atkins. This rendition of the tune is played with a simple alternating bass technique, simple chords and the great melody played on the treble strings. As Buster mentions in the breakdown, the goal of this tune is to try and play the song as if you were a vocalist, so that the listener can nearly hear the lyrics coming from your guitar.


 


Merci Marcel
Level: 4
Tuning: Standard

"Merci Marcel" is a tune with a completely different style and feel than many of Buster's other compositions. It was inspired by the techniques and playing of French guitar master Marcel Dadi. To emulate Dadi, Buster used a distinct style and technique using fingernail clicks / strums on the backbeat, with a unique quarter note bass pattern played by the thumb. It is in the key of A Major and is a very nice ballad to add to your repertoire. This tune was recorded on his "Fingers In Flight" album and demonstrates his brilliant tender ballad compositional ability.

 


Mister Sandman/Bye Bye Blues
Level: 3
Tuning: Standard

Here is a great medley of two classic standards, "Mister Sandman"  written by Pat Ballard, and "Bye Bye Blues," a popular tune recorded by many great artists since the 1930's. Buster draws influence from Chet Atkins and Les Paul in his arrangement, relying on a steady boom-chick feel, with a muffled, alternating bass driving the tune. Both songs are arranged in the key of A, utilizing open strings when possible.

 


Papa's Knee
Level: 3
Tuning: Dropped D Tuning

"Papa's Knee" is a beautiful ballad in the key of D, from Jerry Reed's 1975 RCA record "Red Hot Picker." It utilizes a drop D tuning (DADGBE) which adds warmth and richness to the arrangement. Buster's rendition is entirely instrumental, combining bass, chords, and melody into a great arrangement emulating Reed's lyrical, flowing vocals.

 


Reedology
Level: 4
Tuning: Dropped D Tuning

"Reedology" is a wonderful composition written by Jerry (Reed) Hubbard. Performed in the key of D, it uses a Drop D tuning (DADGBE). The composition is full of Jerry's wonderful musical ideas including interesting bass lines, cleverly voice-led chords, and a great, swinging groove.

 


Santa Claus Is Coming To Town
Level: 3
Tuning: Standard

Here is a wonderful chord melody rendition of "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town." Buster adds some wonderful swing and embellishments into his arrangements of this classic Christmas song written in the early 1930s by John Frederick Coots and Haven Gillespie. This tune is full of moving bass lines, rich chords, and a beautiful, well recognized melody that the whole family can sing along with.


 


Sitting On Top of the World
Level: 3
Tuning: Standard

With his arrangement of "Sitting On Top Of The World," Buster draws ideas from guitar greats Merle Travis and Chet Atkins. Played in a boom-chick style this tune utilities a muffled bass technique, providing a great feel, and bouncing rhythm. Grab your thumbpick and have fun with this great arrangement.


 


Skippy
Level: 4
Tuning: DGDGBbD

"Skippy" is one of Buster's quintessential compositions, with an open G minor tuning. It's full of groove, great melody, aggression, and a energetic driving feel, full of powerful dynamics. After writing the tune he titled it after the only food he could afford as a budding musician, "Skippy" peanut butter. It incorporates a funky take on the alternating bass technique, double stops, and banjo rolls. The original was recorded on Buster's (Brad's) early solo album "Live at Five" and years later Thom Bresh and Buster recorded the song on their album "Guts and Steel."

 


Struttin'
Level: 4
Tuning: Dropped D Tuning

Here is a wonderful Jerry Reed Hubbard composition recorded on his "Mind Your Love&" album in 1975. This piece is full of great moving bass lines, chords, harmony, and a great melody. Buster teaches his arrangement of "Struttin'," including his own embellishments and funky licks in a drop D tuning (DADGBE). This is a rendition with a range of dynamics, going from a delicate touch to digging in and making the strings snap.


 


Stumpwater
Level: 4
Tuning: Standard

Here is a wonderful Jerry Reed Hubbard composition full of great lines, funky licks, and great groove."Stumpwater" was recorded on the 1970 album "Me and Jerry," featuring Chet Atkins and Jerry Reed. The song utilizes intricate picking patterns, heavy use of cascading banjo rolls across all six strings, and a sweeping arpeggio type lick called "The Super Lick." Buster breaks down the nuts and bolts of this tune, giving insight into the fingerings and approach he uses in the arrangement. This tune makes both a great duet with an accompanist, and a wonderful solo arrangement to add to your repertoire.


 


The Christmas Song
Level: 4
Tuning: Standard

Here is a lovely chord melody arrangement of The Christmas Song, commonly called “Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire”. This classic tune was written in 1945 by Bob Wells and Mel Tormé, it’s been recorded by many great artists like Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra and more. Buster’s arrangement opens with a beautiful rubato introduction and grows into a swinging take on this classic standard. He utilizes multiple techniques; walking bass lines, chord melody, and classical tremolo.


The Claw
Level: 4
Tuning: Standard

Here is one of Jerry (Reed) Hubbard's most recognizable instrumentals, "The Claw," full of cool licks, amazing groove and funky feel. Buster teaches the tune very closely to the way Jerry would play it, then moves on to teach his very own embellishments of the tune, using licks inspired by Tommy Jones, open string chromatic licks, double stops, and an aggressive funky approach to this brilliant composition. Buster's arrangement in the key of A utilizes double stop picking patterns, banjo rolls, hammer-ons, pull-offs, and special control of volume and dynamics to make the song really come alive. Hold on and dig in with this one!


 


The Wizard of Oz Medley
Level: 3
Tuning: Standard

A collection of songs from the 1939 film "The Wizard of Oz." This is an arrangement Buster put together after being inspired to learn some of the songs from the film, when watching it with his kids. The arrangement as a whole is a medley with the following parts; an arrangement of "The Lullaby League," a tender, rubato arrangement of "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" and a walking-bass line arrangement of "If I Only Had Brain." As the songs switch the keys change and modulate too, keeping the arrangement interesting for the listener and the player.

 


Van Duser's Rag
Level: 3
Tuning: Drop D Tuning

This is a wonderful composition written as a tip of the hat to legendary guitarist Guy Van Duser. Buster merges ideas and licks from Van Duser, Jerry Reed, and Thom Bresh into his arrangement to form a bouncy, energetic song in the key of D. "Van Duser's Rag" is a great tune that integrates some of Buster's characteristic techniques, double-picking, and right hand hand fingernail clicks/slaps.


 


Wabash Cannonball
Level: 4
Tuning: Dropped D Tuning

When Jerry Reed would sing he would often accompany himself with an amazing guitar part to support the vocals. In this lesson Buster teaches the techniques and groove used in "Wabash Cannonball," which Jerry recorded on his 1968 album, "Nashville Underground." This arrangement has a lot going on, walking bass lines, chords, and melody, all being played simultaneously. Follow along with Buster to learn how to play this tune and capture the funky, syncopated feel Jerry implemented in his arrangement.

 


What A Friend We Have In Jesus
Level: 2
Tuning: Dropped D Tuning

"What A Friend We Have In Jesus" is a beautiful hymn that's been around since the 19th century. Buster plays his rendition as a slow ballad in the key of D major, utilizing the drop D tuning (DADGBE). This instrumental arrangement is full of great harmonies, supporting the beautiful melody.


 


White Christmas
Level: 4
Tuning: Standard

A beautiful, tender arrangement of Irvin Berlin's "White Christmas." This song was made popular by artists like Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Rosemary Clooney, and more. Buster's rendition in the key of C Major opens with a slow, rubato take on the melody, developing into a ballad-like feel and breaks into a more swinging, rhythmic approach the last time through the tune. With the use of varying touch, dynamics, and multiple techniques this is an enjoyable, interesting, and unique arrangement of a classic Christmas song.

 


Winter Wonderland
Level: 3
Tuning: Standard

"Winter Wonderland" is popularly regarded as a Christmas song, written in 1934 by Felix Bernard (music) and Richard B. Smith (lyricist). Through the decades it has been recorded by over 200 different artists. Buster's arrangement is played in the key of A.



Yankee Doodle Dixie
Level: 3
Tuning: Standard

Here is a very clever arrangement of two separate tunes, played at one time. "Yankee Doodle Dandy" and "Dixie" combined into one song and played simultaneously was an idea developed by Mr. Guitar, Chet Atkins. While the idea of playing two totally separate songs at the same time on one guitar sounds daunting and difficult, Buster teaches this great arrangement in a simple and straight forward way, comparing it to "driving a car and eating a hamburger." The first section of the tune uses an approach where the fingers of the right hand are isolated, picking both parts simultaneously, then it transitions into a relaxed boom-chick feel for the bridge.