Brushy One String

by | Jun 20, 2017 | Articles | 16 comments

There’s someone that I would like to introduce to you today.

Brushy One String.

“…Who is that?” you might ask.

Let me show you.

He’s a one-string guitarist from rural Jamaica.

Check out the video below of Brushy’s playing in all his glory.

Then, read the rest of this article.

Brace yourself:


Seriously – how cool is that video.

But after having watched this, you might be asking…

“Greg – why did you show me this? After all, it’s not even jazz. Your website is supposed to be all about jazz guitar – right?”

I’m showing this to you today because I think Brushy’s playing actually contains the essence of jazz, even though technically he’s not even playing the style.

The reason:

As you may have noticed, Brushy only plays a one-string guitar – and only a few notes on that one string at that.

But – the rhythm and energy in the music, that elusive feel that we are all searching for…

This is what Brushy has in spades.

So much of the time, aspiring jazz guitarists get wrapped up in all the tricky scales, the clever substitutions, and spend hours practicing arpeggios up and down.

There’s something seriously missing in ​only​ focussing on those things though.

 In Wes Montgomery’s words: “Regardless of what you play, the biggest thing is keeping the feel going.”

Brushy, you taught me a great deal watching you today.

Let me know what you thought about this video by leaving a comment below.





Greg O’Rourke,

Founder, Fret Dojo

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  1. George Hanepen

    It’s the soul in the sounds that needs to be present at all times.
    Otherwise it becomes sterile and boring.
    It has to be sincere.

  2. Ken Niehoff

    He was cooking. He got the audience moving and dancing. It was about rhythm, groove and his voice was the solo which cooked too.

  3. Chip Carvell

    Hi Greg – that was outstanding. I am an unapologetic fan of the groove, and Brushy One String has it in spades. I love his attitude and exuberance. Thank you so much for sharing.

  4. Peter

    Very cool, Greg. He covers a lot of ground in terms of style. Thanks for the reminder that it doesn’t need to be complex to be good!

  5. Lou Minn

    Hi Greg.. While I personally may not be able to listen to Brushy One String for more than a few minutes, your point is well taken. The rhythm of those two (or three) notes and the way he plays them are very intoxicating to the ear. It really draws you in…it’s very inviting. Whatever you want to call it; soul, feel, groove, intention…Brushy
    has a ton of it. When you come down to it, music should be a joyous experience; for you, your bandmates and your listeners. This was a real eye opener.

  6. Aeron Hughes

    This guy’s playing is packed with a cool percussive bass and rhythm groove. Although he uses only a few bass notes his playing has drive and a syncopated feel about it. This coupled with his singing, his performing ability and sheer personality captivated me and drew me into the show. The rest of his audience obviously felt the same vibe. A cool dude for sure. Thanks for sharing Greg.

  7. bill

    wot a cool dude! Ynguie Malmsteen can play a million notes a minute, BB King will play ONE and blow ’em all away!!
    this is a lesson in making something simple sound great!
    thanks for that Greg.

  8. Thomas Felty

    He’s in the pocket for sure. Great feel.

  9. Lou

    Hi Greg,

    Thanks for that . . .
    He really lays it down . . and his groove is happy and infectious !

  10. Hans

    WoW, that’s what Groovy really means, playing from the soul.
    Great post Greg!

  11. Adi

    pure musical expression, if you have rhythm and groove like this you don’t need tehnic. Remind me on Bob Marley in his first rebel faze. This is real poor Africa and real world. We are on web.

  12. Rodney

    Horizontal playing at it’s best!

  13. Larry Peyser

    Holding one note in jazz is creative, as noted above in the comment on BB King. Brushy One Note creates an unexpected solid groove with two notes and rhythms.
    For a more conventional jazz feel try listening to and playing One Note Samba. The samba rhythm chords provide for falling half tones around the ‘single note melody’ (actually there are two notes to the melody; one in the first 8 bars and a forth above in the next 8). The 8 bar bridge has a beautiful falling half tone chord structure supporting a lilting multi note melody line. Four of last 8 bars are a repeat on the fourth, but the concluding 4 hold that fourth through to the end. Much the same can be created in the twenty ninth and thirtieth measures of Autumn Leaves where one can hold the Bb against the Gm7,Gb7, and substituted F11, E7b5 leading to the Eb maj 7 with the Bb on top. Try it, the sound will haunt you to fill it in elsewhere.

  14. Bill Ward

    Greg, I would definitely agree, the energy and strong steady beat was powerful and riveting, demands your attention!

  15. Ricco

    I love it
    That’s where it’s at
    I saw Brushy playing and am very inspired
    It’s really cool Greg that you shoud bring this up. There is more to it than just tecnique and virtuosity … or is it, less…?

  16. Lou

    Hi Greg,

    Thanks again for ‘Brushy’ .
    To paraphrase Irving Mills and Duke Ellington’s
    ‘It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing’,
    you could say about Brushy . . .
    ‘It’s never so real if it ain’t got that feel ‘ !!


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