Virtuoso multi-instrumentalist (gtr., mando, banjo, lap steel, etc) soulful singer, and the top dobro player you'll find west of Nashville. Played on over 500 CDs, many movie, video, and game soundtracks, and done instructional videos for Jamplay, Peghead Nation, and Acoustic Guitar. Known worldwide for his dobro and lap steel playing.

I offer my services as a session musician specializing in dobro, lap steel, guitars, slide guitar, mandolin, and banjo. I am a good lead and harmony singer as well. I've produced over 30 albums for others as well as all my own albums and enjoy producing. I've composed and played on many soundtracks for movies, PBS and NPR, and games. I can create quality tracks in my home studio and am willing to travel reasonable distances for projects (expenses and costs negotiable). i've been a pro musician for 45 years and enjoy all aspects of playing, recording, and producing music.

Would love to hear from you. Click the contact button above to get in touch.

My credits include

AllMusic verified credits for Orville Johnson:

  • Laurie Lewis
  • The Halyards
  • The Halyards
  • Mia Vermillion
  • Mia Vermillion
  • Mia Vermillion
  • Mia Vermillion
  • Star Anna
  • Star Anna
  • Star Anna
  • Star Anna
  • Star Anna
  • Star Anna
  • Laura Love
  • Orville Johnson
  • Laura Love
  • Orville Johnson
  • Laura Love
  • Orville Johnson
  • Laura Love
  • Orville Johnson
  • Laura Love
  • Orville Johnson
  • Laura Love
  • Orville Johnson
  • Laura Love
  • Orville Johnson
  • Laura Love
  • Orville Johnson
  • Laura Love
  • Orville Johnson
  • Laura Love
  • Orville Johnson
  • Laura Love
  • Orville Johnson
  • Laura Love
  • Orville Johnson
  • Laura Love
  • Orville Johnson
  • Eric Bibb
  • David Lange
  • David Lange
  • Beth Whitney
  • Beth Whitney
  • Ellen Martinez
  • John Nelson
  • Rachel Harrington
  • Jennifer Leonhardt
  • West Valley Highway
  • West Valley Highway
  • Hans York
  • Hans York
  • Hans York
  • Orville Johnson
  • Acousticsol
  • Orville Johnson
  • Orville Johnson
  • Orville Johnson
  • Orville Johnson
  • Orville Johnson
  • Orville Johnson
  • Orville Johnson
  • Orville Johnson
  • Orville Johnson
  • Orville Johnson
  • Orville Johnson
  • Orville Johnson
  • Orville Johnson
  • Orville Johnson
  • David Lee Howard
  • David Lee Howard
  • Mylab
  • Mylab
  • Laura Love
  • Laura Love
  • Laura Love
  • File Gumbo
  • File Gumbo
  • File Gumbo
  • File Gumbo
  • Hot Club Sandwich
  • Hot Club Sandwich
  • Hot Club Sandwich
  • File Gumbo
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  • Marc Bristol
  • Marc Bristol
  • Marc Bristol
  • Marc Bristol
  • Preston Love
  • Kings of Mongrel Folk
  • Kings of Mongrel Folk
  • Kings of Mongrel Folk
  • Kings of Mongrel Folk
  • Kings of Mongrel Folk
  • Kings of Mongrel Folk
  • Kings of Mongrel Folk
  • Kings of Mongrel Folk
  • Kings of Mongrel Folk
  • Kings of Mongrel Folk
  • Kings of Mongrel Folk
  • Marjorie DeMuynck
  • Marjorie DeMuynck
  • Marjorie DeMuynck
  • David Maloney
  • Mark Graham
  • Mark Graham
  • Mark Graham
  • Mark Graham
  • Mark Graham
  • Mark Graham
  • Mark Graham
  • Mark Graham
  • File Gumbo
  • File Gumbo
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  • File Gumbo
  • Danny Barnes
  • Danny Barnes
  • Tom May
  • Tom May
  • Tom May
  • Tom May
  • Orville Johnson
  • Orville Johnson
  • Orville Johnson
  • Orville Johnson
  • Orville Johnson
  • Lucy Mongrel
  • Orville Johnson
  • Orville Johnson
  • Orville Johnson
  • Orville Johnson
  • Orville Johnson
  • Orville Johnson
  • Orville Johnson
  • Orville Johnson
  • Orville Johnson
  • Orville Johnson
  • Orville Johnson
  • Orville Johnson
  • Orville Johnson
  • Mark Graham
  • Mark Graham
  • Mark Graham
  • Jim Page
  • Jim Page
  • Jim Page
  • Jim Page
  • Jim Page
  • Jim Page
  • Jim Page
  • Jim Page
  • Jim Page
  • Lyndon Laminack
  • David Roth
  • Dale Russ
  • Marjorie Richards
  • Marjorie Richards
  • Marjorie Richards
  • Marjorie Richards
  • Marjorie Richards
  • Anne Hills
  • Laura Love
  • Steve Gillette
  • Jamie Anderson
  • Jamie Anderson
  • Annie Gallup
  • Annie Gallup
  • Annie O'Neill
  • Artis the Spoon Man
  • Artis the Spoon Man
  • Chris & Carla
  • Chris & Carla
  • Jo Miller
  • Jo Miller
  • Jo Miller
  • Jo Miller
  • Lisa Koch
  • Lisa Koch
  • Lisa Koch
  • Lisa Koch
  • Annie Gallup
  • Dos Fallopia
  • Dos Fallopia
  • P.F. Sloan
  • Laura Love
  • Laura Love
  • Laura Love
  • Ranch Romance
  • Mando Morphosis
  • Mando Morphosis
  • Mando Morphosis
  • Mando Morphosis
  • Mando Morphosis
  • Mando Morphosis
  • Mando Morphosis
  • The Hanumen
  • Paul Specht
  • Paul Specht
  • Grant Dermody
  • Grant Dermody
  • Grant Dermody
  • Grant Dermody
  • Grant Dermody
  • Grant Dermody

Gear highlights

  • Protools
  • Neumann
  • Apollo
  • Tannoy
  • Apple
  • AKG
  • Fender
  • Gibson
  • Rayco
  • Guernsey
  • Dobro
  • Lollar

Genres I specialize in

Terms of Service

We confer on your needs, I create a track, you can come back for revision. Costs are negotiable starting at $200 per track. Turnaround is a couple of days.

Reviews of Orville Johnson

  • Verified ReviewListing_thumb_ezra-vancil-picture3 months agoby

    I came back for more banjo and as usual very impressed with Orville's pick'n. What I like about Orville is sonically his quality of instruments and recording equipment is better than I have in house and of course his performance and creativity is spot on.

  • Verified ReviewListing_thumb_ezra-vancil-picture4 months agoby

    I enjoyed working with Orville Johnson so much on Lap Steel– I came straight back for dobro and banjo. His honed talent shines through every lick on every track. The execution and tone on his tracks are very professional and sound like a million bucks. I'll be back again.

  • Verified ReviewListing_thumb_ezra-vancil-picture4 months agoby

    Orville's work was very intuitive and spot on to what I was looking for. He communicated really well and was a pleasure to work with. The sonics of the tracks are top shelf & The performance was creative and masterfully executed. I'm already making plans to get his talents on other projects. I seriously was blown away.

  • Verified ReviewDefault-avatar5 months agoby

    First time working with Orville and first time on this site and loved the whole experience. He provided excellent sounding acoustic guitar tracks and was very easy to work with. Absolute pro at what he does and will definitely return with more projects.

  • Default-avatar4 months agoby

    Orville is a multi talented musician, writer and producer across a wide spectrum of roots music styles. Be it dobro, guitar, mandolin or vocals he brings soulful and inspired parts to any project he gets involved with. A total pro, he makes everyone sound better! As an engineer, producer and songwriter, I've worked alongside him on many albums.

  • Default-avatar4 months agoby

    If there's a better Dobro player than Orville, and I mean anywhere, I'm not aware it. AND he's an absolute first-call for anything with plucked strings, acoustic or electric, in pretty much any style. Well, maybe not Mongolian blues on a Sanxian... but, hey! Give him a couple of days... He's on my recordings now, and will be again. Soon!

  • Default-avatar5 months agoby

    It has been a pleasure performing with Orville over the last ten years we've been acquainted. He always has an excellent solo, great vocals, a good ear for vocal harmony, and good vibes that enhance the esprit d' corps on stage and warm the audience. He's also a creative and assuring presence in the recording studio, engineering and producing.

  • Default-avatar6 months agoby

    Orville is the single most talented and prolific "sideman" I have worked with in 25 years of studio and stage production. He is a virtuoso performer on nearly every stringed instrument, a fine singer, and gifted arranger. His studio persona is positive, creative, and friendly. He is the first studio musician I turn to for any new project!

  • Default-avatar6 months agoby

    I've asked Orville to play on several recording projects, both live in the studio and remotely (file transfer.) His musicianship is unsurpassed, but he's more than a technician: He plays with his heart and soul. I can't get enough of his music. He's absolutely the best.

  • Default-avatar6 months agoby

    I am a song writer. I know lots of musicians in this world who play note for note as written, and do it perfectly. But few bring the emotional fabric of a song to the surface so that the listener shares in the sadness and the joy of what the song has to offer. Orville can, and does. He's as good as they get.

  • Default-avatar6 months agoby

    Orville has always been my first call for session work. He is a true "original" on a great variety of instruments and super easy to work with. I've also had the great pleasure of sharing a stage with him on many occasions and it always fills me with joy to hear what musical wonder he's gonna come up with next. Orville's a pro! Great singer too!

  • Default-avatar6 months agoby

    I'm a singer/songwriter who writes oddball songs--not everybody can wrap their brain around them. Orville can! A brilliant performer in his own right, he is consummate sideman of amazing technical and emotional range who knows how to bring out the best in a song, Always prepared, calm, and supportive, there's no one I"d rather be with in the studio

  • Default-avatar6 months agoby

    Orville is a tremendous player - he will always contribute something of great depth and beauty. He produced a CD of mine which still stands among the best work of my career. Besides producing, he also sang, played electric and acoustic guitar, dobro, lap steel, mandolin, and banjo. I don’t think there’s anything Orville can’t do.

  • Default-avatar6 months agoby

    I have worked with Orville for the past 25 years. First as a producer, I've hired him as a session player with truly amazing results and usually on the first take!! His musicality, sound and empathy is remarkable to witness. Second, I've mastered dozens of projects that Orville has produced and he brings the same magic to everything he touches.

  • Default-avatar6 months agoby

    For over 25 years and nearly 50 albums, Orville Johnson has been a continuous, critical artistic component of the projects produced here at the Garey Shelton Studio in Seattle. His generous creative vision, technical expertise and sheer versatility is astounding. Plus there is no-one more fun to share a stage with! Simply the best!

  • Default-avatar6 months agoby

    Orville rocks! To my great good fortune,and on very short notice, he produced my first demo album in 2013. I had a flight to catch that night, so in five hours we laid down ten original songs. With an expert ear, he elevated my raw sound, accompanying me with gorgeous licks on guitar, mando and dobro as well as some sweet harmony vocals. Ten stars!

  • Default-avatar6 months agoby

    Orville Johnson is GOD! I cannot overstate his contribution to my career. He has played on every one of my records since 1989 and I have become addicted to his soul shaking melodies. He is a band in a body. There are no filters between his emotions and his fingers - his heart and his voice; - no brakes whatsoever. I love that.

  • Default-avatar6 months agoby

    I worked with Orville Johnson on my first studio solo recording project, Bagpipe Revolution. He was a total pro, helping with arrangements, and nailing his performances every time. I can't wait to work with him again. I recommend him to anyone without hesitation.

  • Default-avatar6 months agoby

    I've worked with Orville over a period of 25 years or better. Both in his capacity as musician and producer he has never failed to produce excellent results. I don't believe there is a better dobro player on the planet for tone and taste. And those qualities are always present whether singing, playing guitar or mandolin. He's the best.

  • Default-avatar6 months agoby

    Five stars doesn't even do this man justice. I was honored to have Orville produce an original E.P. of mine in 2011. His musical contributions were seemingly effortless, but made my songs come alive with emotional dimension. Not only is he an exceptional producer and player, he is also exceptionally kind and patient, and I respect him enormously.

  • Default-avatar6 months agoby

    Orville is a consummate musical artist and craftsman who combines wide and deep knowledge and understanding of many kinds of roots musics with superior instrumental and vocal skills. He's great in many guitar styles and an unsurpassed dobro picker. He produced an album for me called "Inner Life" that Jerry Douglas bought 15 of to give to his pals.

  • Default-avatar6 months agoby

    As a composer/producer for Sonoton, the world’s largest music library, when I work in Seattle, I call Orville.There is nobody better at dobro, lap steel, mandolin, banjo, and guitar to create an authentic feel. He understands how to build a track. I am happy to endorse Orville and hope you can use his services as well. Jim Wolfe

  • Default-avatar6 months agoby

    I have known and worked with Orville Johnson since the 1970s. He produced my first CD, "$300 Night" in Seattle in 1999. I am constantly amazed at the depth of instrumental technique and emotion that Orville brings to any project. His Dobro stylings are legendary in many circles.

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Interview with Orville Johnson

What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
I get inspiration from great musicians of the past like Mississippi John Hurt, Rev. Gary Davis, and Muddy Waters, musicians from my lifetime like Mike Auldridge, Doc Watson, Lowell George, Bonnie Raitt, Ray Charles, the Band, and current sounds I hear from Jason Isbell, Bill Frisell, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Chris Stapleton, and music production folks like Joe Henry, TBone Burnett, Dave Cobb, and Tom Dowd.
What questions do you ask prospective clients?
I like to talk with them about music they like and, particularly, if they could describe what they're looking for in terms of an artist, a band, a record, or some musical touchstone that we might share that can get us to the place of understanding how I can best help them realize their dreams.
What do you like most about your job?
The fact that I always get to do something I love. It's the best kind of job.
Can you share one music production tip?
Hire people that can do the job, not your friends. A lot of studio time and money has been wasted on trying to get your buddy to play a passable part when you could have hired someone to play exactly what you want in a short time and not have to worry about hurting their feelings or having them "unfriend" you!
What type of music do you usually work on?
I'm probably best known for my work in the Blues, Country, Americana, and Rock. Roots music, as I characterize it. I've done lots of soundtrack work, jazz, electronic, and avant garde as well, but American roots music is my base.
What's your strongest skill?
Listening and reacting. Although I've successfully done many sessions where I've been required to play a written part, my greatest skill is to listen to music and react to it with my own musicality and emotion. I'm a self-taught player, not a music school guy, so emotional reaction and deep listening have always been the keys to my learning, growing, and playing.
What do you bring to a song?
I've been a professional musician since the 1970s, have played many styles of music, recorded and done sessions for nearly that long, plus I'm an excellent singer and interpreter of songs. I think this long arc of experience in both listening and diving deeply into the song myself helps me to know when something sounds really good and to recognize honesty and authenticity vs. artifice and imitation.
What's your typical work process?
After being contacted by the client, I like to have a conversation about what they need to add to their project and how I can help them. Choosing instruments, talk about arrangements, see if we have some musical reference points in common that can help me understand what they're looking for, etc. Then I'll create a track (or tracks) for them and we'll confer again to see if changes are necessary.
Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
Dobro, slide guitar, and lap steel and other stringed instruments (ac. and elec.guitar, banjo, mandolin)-I'm usually adding parts to a production that's in progress when I do remote sessions. When I produce, it's normally in my neck of the woods, Seattle and the Pacific Northwest. I travel for live gigs, mainly on the West Coast.
Tell us about your studio setup.
I have a small home studio for remote sessions and my own work. I use Pro Tools for my DAW, Apollo for my interface, mics from Neumann, AKG, and Chameleon Labs, monitors from Tannoy, pres from UAD and Trident.