How to Play Acoustic Guitar like Johnny Cash

Learn how to play acoustic guitar like Johnny Cash from country guitar player Boo Reiners in this Howcast video.

Johnny Cash. He’s one of our favorite artists of all time. He played acoustic guitar in front of the Tennessee Two or the Tennessee Three, and he had a really cool style that was pretty bad ass. He would play the acoustic guitar with a flat pick. And he’d often have it down low like this. Sometimes he’d be strumming way up here and then he’d move back here and then he’d move back up here. So that’s what you’d see him to live a lot and it’s really cool showmanship and it gets the job done in terms of putting the song across.

The Sun Studio sessions that were so groundbreaking with the Tennessee Two had something a little different going on. He would take a card and weave it into the strings like this, okay like that, and then he would kind of use it as a percussion instrument because they didn’t have a drummer. They had doghouse bass slapping away. Luther Perkins picking on the Telecaster.

There was an echo machine, an extra tape machine in the studio that was used for echo, and it was often producing its own sort of rhythmic back beat. So with Johnny hitting on his guitar like that, this kind of acted like the snares that would be hitting against the underside of a snare drum. Some people would call this style of guitar playing sock guitar. You can do the same thing without a card, or you can make some chords, but the focus is on the texture of the pick going across the strings but having that card in there gives it an extra sizzle.

So check it out, play along with your favorite Johnny Cash recordings and see if you don’t get a little extra rhythm.