Eric Johnson on Why He Uses Open Strings Whenever Possible

Eric Johnson was all set for a very busy 2020, before the coronavirus struck.

Between the release of his stellar new album, the largely acoustic EJ Vol. II, and his new signature Fender Stratocaster, the "Virginia," Johnson certainly had a lot on his plate. 

Even as the pandemic has wrecked his - and every other touring musician's - plans though, Johnson has found a way to keep busy, recently gifting us with a new YouTube mini-lesson.

The lesson, the first of what appears to be a new series, focuses on why Johnson prefers to use open strings in licks whenever he can, and why using more open strings can improve your own leads. 

"Any time I can get away with an open string it affords me a couple of things," Johnson says. "It keeps the glissando of the lick going, and it gives you a chance to get to another part of the fretboard - and it also has a cool sound."

Johnson mentions that he also prefers to move notes to different strings whenever possible. The combination of using more open strings and moving notes to different strings than usual, Johnson says, "gives you a totally different freedom to create the voicing you want and utilize your hand position."

You can check out the full mini-lesson above.

Of course, Johnson is also filming these lesson videos for a good cause, encouraging viewers to donate to Feeding America, or help out their local food bank with a donation.

To donate to Feeding America, step right this way.

Jackson Maxwell
Associate Editor, and

Jackson is an Associate Editor at and He’s been writing and editing stories about new gear, technique and guitar-driven music both old and new since 2014, and has also written extensively on the same topics for Guitar Player. Elsewhere, his album reviews and essays have appeared in Louder and Unrecorded. Though open to music of all kinds, his greatest love has always been indie, and everything that falls under its massive umbrella. To that end, you can find him on Twitter crowing about whatever great new guitar band you need to drop everything to hear right now.