Videos: Daniel Donato's Cosmic Country Guitar Lessons

Daniel Donato is a young Telecaster master. He's learned his chops from the greats, sharpened his skills in 1,000 bar gigs, and has shared the lessons he's learned in a string of videos shot in the Reverb studio.

Below, we've collected them all. Grab a Tele and pick away.

Lessons From Albert Lee, Brent Mason & More

In this freshly released video, you can hear the particular techniques Donato's picked up from renowned Albert Lee, Nashville session musician Brent Mason, and blues guitarist Joe Bonamassa.

If you're interested in learning a few tricks from Lee himself, check out our previous video with Albert Lee on his signature style.

Blues vs. Country Guitar

In this video, Donato dives into a debate that's been a regular at blues bars and honky tonk spots for decades: blues vs. country guitar.

The real difference between blues and country, according to Daniel? 100% minor pentatonic in the former and about a 65/45 mix between major and minor pentatonics in the latter.

Lessons Learned from 1,000 Bar Gigs

Despite his age, Donato cut his teeth the old-fashioned way, Donato playing gig after gig in Nashville honky tonks. So we asked him, "What have you learned from playing more than 1,000 shows at bars?"

He said the thing he hears most from other pickers is that, once on stage, they revert to their fretboard comfort zones. So he shares tips to help you break out of bad performance habits—from expanding your pentatonic scales to controlling your dynamics.

Daniel Donato's Cosmic Country Tricks

Daniel Donato's a universal ambassador for what he calls Cosmic Country—a mix of country twang, jazz theory, and Grateful Dead–style psychedelia that he's made into his own personal sound.

In our new video above, he's here to show a few new concepts and blend them all together.

A Journey to Nashville Guitar Stardom

Growing up along with what he calls the Guitar Hero video game generation, Donato listened to a lot of the hard rock that the game was known for. After starting to play guitar at 12 years old, he found himself serendipitously invited on stage just two years later to sit in with a band playing a corner bar.

From that first taste of the stage, Donato spent time busking on the street all day in Nashville until he landed a gig with the Don Kelley Band, a rite of passage that started his professional career in full.

Jerry Garcia-Style Chromatic Riffs

In this video, Donato digs deep into chromaticism and, specifically, how chromaticism can factor into country-style playing.

Starting with an explanation of the importance of knowing your pentatonic boxes, Daniel illustrates a particularly saucy chromatic riff that draws largely on the style of Jerry Garcia.

Jerry Reed-Style Double-Stops

"Sincerely, ultimately, aggressively, awesomely country"—that's how Donato describes Jerry Reed and Reed's particular style of double-stop licks.

Donato demonstrates the late picker's genius with a lick he wrote himself as an homage to Reed, showcasing both the chromaticism and double-stop elements that made his playing so innovative.

Hybrid Picking Style and Rhythms

Trusty Telecaster in hand, Donato gives us a lesson on his unique brand of country-style hybrid picking.

No stranger to the chicken pickin' style of many greats in the genre, Donato adapted the standard to suit his own playing, making use of a both pick (but not on the upstrokes) and his acrylic fingernails. His style plays with ghost notes and works in bebop inflections, and allows him to play more quickly with more of a staccato sound.

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