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beyond basic chords & picking technique

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Little Neophyte 04 Jan 00 - 02:28 PM
Little Neophyte 04 Jan 00 - 09:26 PM
DougR 04 Jan 00 - 09:33 PM
Little Neophyte 04 Jan 00 - 09:38 PM
Brendy 04 Jan 00 - 09:41 PM
Rick Fielding 04 Jan 00 - 10:10 PM
Richard Chance 04 Jan 00 - 11:23 PM
GutBucketeer 04 Jan 00 - 11:30 PM
DougR 04 Jan 00 - 11:30 PM
JamesJim 05 Jan 00 - 01:06 AM
Roger in Baltimore 05 Jan 00 - 01:26 AM
Rick Fielding 05 Jan 00 - 03:42 AM
Pete Peterson 05 Jan 00 - 09:03 AM
GutBucketeer 05 Jan 00 - 01:04 PM
Peter T. 05 Jan 00 - 01:23 PM
Pete Peterson 05 Jan 00 - 01:23 PM
T in Oklahoma (Okiemockbird) 05 Jan 00 - 01:34 PM
McGrath of Harlow 05 Jan 00 - 02:42 PM
Midchuck 05 Jan 00 - 03:00 PM
Rick Fielding 05 Jan 00 - 03:16 PM
Little Neophyte 05 Jan 00 - 03:17 PM
Terry Allan Hall 05 Jan 00 - 03:44 PM
GUEST,Dave W. 12 Mar 06 - 04:10 PM
GUEST 17 Feb 13 - 03:35 PM
McGrath of Harlow 17 Feb 13 - 08:04 PM
The Sandman 18 Feb 13 - 05:59 PM
GUEST,Everett Bonds. 02 Jul 13 - 10:36 PM
banjoman 03 Jul 13 - 06:48 AM
GUEST 03 Jul 13 - 08:04 AM
The Sandman 03 Jul 13 - 08:10 AM
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Subject: beyond basic chords & picking technique
From: Little Neophyte
Date: 04 Jan 00 - 02:28 PM

I have learned how to find the basic chords to the tune I want to play. I have also learned how to switch right hand styles and picking patterns within the same tune to make the tune more interesting. I have learned to decorate my chords with hammer on, pull off and slides. I am learning how to add scales to chords and bass runs between chords and how to tie/bridge two chords.
What I am trying to figure out is how do you pick the notes out in a tune? I have watched people play a tune and pick out each note of the song. This to me is very interesting. I would like to be less dependent on the chords and not limited by right hand styles & picking patterns.
Is this something I will naturally develop with experience or will I need to learn to play the song by sheet music notation that shows me exactly which note my left hand must be striking and which strings my right hand must pick.
Hope this question makes sense.

BB


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Subject: RE: beyond basic chords & picking technique
From: Little Neophyte
Date: 04 Jan 00 - 09:26 PM

I'm just wondering........
Is my question too obscure?
Have I not worded it in a way others can understand what I am asking?
Are there few instrumentalist around to answer such a questions?
There use to be a time I would get an immediate reponse to a technical music question. Is it just in my head or have things really changed that much around here?

BB


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Subject: RE: beyond basic chords & picking technique
From: DougR
Date: 04 Jan 00 - 09:33 PM

Gee whiz, Banjo Bonnie, give the knowledgeable folks a chance! :>) It's only been a few hours between your postings. I'll be surprised if you are not swamped with replies very shortly. Those types are probably still recovering from New Year's Eve!

DougR


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Subject: RE: beyond basic chords & picking technique
From: Little Neophyte
Date: 04 Jan 00 - 09:38 PM

Thanks Doug, I guess it is just part of my nature.
Tripping over my feet in an attempt to go forward faster.
I appreciate your reply,

BB


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Subject: RE: beyond basic chords & picking technique
From: Brendy
Date: 04 Jan 00 - 09:41 PM

I hope to god not, oh ex-neo!
It must have been only a month or two when you were musing on things far removed from what you are musing on now.
That in itself signifies progress. I've been at the guitar since I was five, some 34 years, and I do the fingerpicking thing.
As your hands, and especially your fingers get more dextrous with use, more familiar to their surroundings, you WILL find that a lot of things will naturally fall into place.
More or less what you have already experienced I would think. I play in many different tunings, and each one has it's own 'rules', so to speak. But your fingers learn the lesson and sync it with your brain.
At times you will feel that the stream of energy from the soul to the fingers will get more and more steady as your fingers develop an instinctiveness of their own.
Don't worry about it, Bon, It WILL come...... and it wont go away.
Obscure enough for you?
B.


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Subject: RE: beyond basic chords & picking technique
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 04 Jan 00 - 10:10 PM

Nope, not obscure in the least! Pick out a song you want to play melody to, find a key, sing the first five or six notes, find 'em on the banjo, start pickin!

Rick


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Subject: RE: beyond basic chords & picking technique
From: Richard Chance
Date: 04 Jan 00 - 11:23 PM

Bonnie:

I have been finger picking and flat picking for 35 years, and being a play-by-ear musician, I started like you did. I learned different patterns and the chords to all the standard open chord keys. I played with records till the grooves wore out. And I tried to learn as much as I could from other players. In the process, I learned a bunch of tunes where "the melody is picked out". (Freight Train, Fennario, Today While the Blossoms..., Blowin in the Wind, etc.) Now that I have played so for so long, it is sort of an unconcious process of layering a lot of licks, patterns, and stuff you learned from other songs together in order to play some new tune. You don't really think about it, but you have learned your way around the chords, scales, and patterns that you can do it. Yes, it is a process of time. And for me I loved every minute of it, and I never thought of playing as practice. Some people I have taught at workshops over the years ask me "How long will it take me to get to play like you?" and I reply "Maybe 3 or 4 years or maybe 35 years, who knows!" The key is just to play cause you love it, and keep learning new stuff, and meet people, and the time is the fun part. People who think that they need to learn to play well quickly are doomed. Quickly is a relative thing. You have to love the learning and not pay much attention to the fact that you cant play like a pro when you ARENT ONE YET. Everybody stinks in comparison to someone else who is better. So what.

Now, if you are trained classically, and sight read, it is kind of like typing, because you don't learn patterns -you just play what is written. But as a folkie, you have to find your way around. I am still doing that - finding my way around. But let me assure you, you will keep learning and improving forever. You just have to keep playing.

In formal training, you are given a lot of scales and excercises in order to train technique and familarity with the fingerboard. Once you have your hands trained, like a typist, you just go where the music tells you to. But in our style of picking, the scales and the map of the fingerboard is learned in an internalized,visual way. We figure out where the obvious notes are in a scale (key), because they are the easy ones that are in the chord structure, or are easily added by lifting a finger, doing a run, adding a note with a free finger, etc. This was how I learned to pick out the melody while keeping that "good old right hand Travis Style Pattern" going. Now the trick is that the right hand has to figure out how to "break" the pattern and alter it in order to have a finger hitting the note that the left hand is hunting out for the melody. Whew, what a mouth full. I hope you can visualize all this.

It sounds like you have learned enough of the basics to keep evolving, and although this may sound like a vague, time consuming method, I really think this is how most pickers learn. The alternative is to take formal sight reading training and for this you must be really committed. (My opinion) Also, sight reading doesn't really help that much in the folk, country, acoustic world anyway. Most of what you probably like isn't written out.

There is also TAB, as I am sure you know about by now. I have mixed feelings about TAB. But you need to use it to some degree. It is a good way, at least in the stage you are in, to add a lot of material in a shorter time. The down side is that I have been to Bluegrass Jams where every flatpicker there plays Blackberry Blossom just like the other guy who learned it from the same TAB Chart. Tab can be harder than playing by ear, because for me, it means my brain kind of has to memorize it all. I am blessed with "photographic" ears, so learning from a record is not that hard, even if I don't learn it note for note like the record. I like to do my own version anyway in most cases. Eventually a memorized TAB version becomes natural, and that is the goal after all. Then you can modify it to be "your own".

Once again, the goal is to learn as many millions of nerve, muscle, brain, ear connections as possible. Believe me, one day you just realize you can play stuff off the top of your head because you accumulate so many different "pieces" of all the possible songs that it becomes automatic.

One last thing: try to find at least one other person near your level or ahead of you to pick with. You will be amazed how much this will improve your ability to play in a more rounded way. Showing someone else how to play something you know is an incredible catalyst to your own learning process. A lot of "closet pickers" have one major flaw and that is they can't play WITH others. If you are focussed on being a solo performer, I guess that's ok. But the person who plays by him/herself never gets fluid or steady rythym, and often never really completely works out tunes in a well structured way. For most, playing with others is a lot more fun and you learn faster and more.

Hope my ramble is encouraging and not overwhelming. I am sure you are on the right track. Good luck from a pickin fool in Dallas,

Richard


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Subject: RE: beyond basic chords & picking technique
From: GutBucketeer
Date: 04 Jan 00 - 11:30 PM

Hi Banjo Bonnie:

I am also learning Banjo, but you are wayyyyy ahead of me! I just wish I could do all the things that you do.

There are a couple of additional web resorces for learing banjo that you may be interested in.

If you go to http://www.kafiristan.com/ you will find some great realaudio workshops for clawhammer. They start simple and then get more complex, and also start asking you to improve your playing by ear.

There are also two lists at www.onelist.com that help beginner to intermediate banjo players, though they focus more on picking than frailing. They are BgnrBanjo and VirtualBanjoStudio. Both have regular audio chat rooms at Hearme.com. VirtualBanjoStudio is where Julio Boysenberry conducts online tutorials and classes in just what you were talking about above. People play what they are working on, ask questions, and he helps them out.

Its pretty cool

JAB


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Subject: RE: beyond basic chords & picking technique
From: DougR
Date: 04 Jan 00 - 11:30 PM

See, Bonnie, it just took a little time for the experts to get back to you!

Thanks for posting this. I found the replies helpful too!

DougR


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Subject: RE: beyond basic chords & picking technique
From: JamesJim
Date: 05 Jan 00 - 01:06 AM

Not sure I can add much, but remember, the melody is within the chords. In most cases, you don't have to stretch that much. I'm not a banjo player, but do play guitar. There are certain keys on which picking the melody is easier (for a guitar player, it's C, which of course can be capoed up to D, etc. - I'm sure it's the same for a banjo). The best advice I've seen on this thread, is practice. Pick a particular song to learn and search for the melody. You'll be playing it and others in no time. Jim


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Subject: RE: beyond basic chords & picking technique
From: Roger in Baltimore
Date: 05 Jan 00 - 01:26 AM

Banjo Bonnie,

You don't realize how fast you are whizzing along. Be patient with yourself, you are doing fine! I spent many hours just picking out the melody on records. It gave me an informal knowledge of scales and trained my ear to hear the conversion from the sound to the string and fret.

Freight Train is a great tune for practicing the melody driven fingerpicking style.

Remember that you are on the path and you know your goal. That is all you need to know. When and how are secondary.

Good Luck Little Neo! Keep on pickin''. And yes, practice seldom feels like practice. I just like to play. And now I'm so good that Rick Fielding calls me out of the audience to accompany him on Sandy's Larrivee. How's about that! See, there is hope for all of us.

Roger in Baltimore


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Subject: RE: beyond basic chords & picking technique
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 05 Jan 00 - 03:42 AM

Oh Roger, how COULD you? You've reminded me again. I loved that Larivee. He gave it to his Kid! I was willing to pay him anything he asked (as long as he didn't ask more than 500).

Now there's another one at The 12TH Fret, that I'm falling in love with. Two GRAND!! C'mon Sandy, I'll will it back to you when I croak!

Rick


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Subject: RE: beyond basic chords & picking technique
From: Pete Peterson
Date: 05 Jan 00 - 09:03 AM

Hello Bonnie, Some of the earlier postings have covered probably everything Iwill say but i may have a different angle. ASSUME a clawhammer banjo player who has a recording of a tune in G she wants to know. . . then 1) Make sure your banjo is in tune with the tape
2) Play the thing over &over until you can first hear, then sing the melody--what you think the tune is
3) Just using the downstroke, play those melody notes on the banjo, on the highest string possible
(In other words,if the starting note is D, play that note as 1st string open, NOT 2nd string 3rd fret, or 3rd string 7th fret. . .)
4) Then "add" the rhythm
and this is oversimplifying badly. The trouble is, it's easier to DO than it is to describe, once you get the hang of it. You may even find it easier to learn a bunch of tunes completley by rote, then "take stock" of all the tricks you have learned and apply it to a new tune you want to use. At any rate, good luck!


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Subject: RE: beyond basic chords & picking technique
From: GutBucketeer
Date: 05 Jan 00 - 01:04 PM

Hi Banjo Bonnie and Pete:

As a beginning banjo player I have a related question. Is it better to stick with one style at first: clawhammer, or three finger Scrugs, or try to go back and forth.

The question came up after Pete's response. As a clawhammer player I tend to try to pick out the Melody on the highest strings just like Pete said. However, in picking I have been told that you try to pick out the Melody on the lowest strings, preferably keeping it on strings three and four. Strings one and two add harmony. I find this difficult at this time but am afraid that if I just focus on clawhammer style hi Melody then I'll develop habits that are hard to break.

JAB


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Subject: RE: beyond basic chords & picking technique
From: Peter T.
Date: 05 Jan 00 - 01:23 PM

GREAT QUESTION BONNIE!!!!!!!I am a (bad) guitarist, and this is also my problem!! (Rick is working on it with me, too). These are great answers but can I ask another version of the question visually (and a guitar version)? What some of us start out with are chords, and then there are bass notes, and you can connect the chords with bass notes using a run. And then, as you go along, there is this extra thing with free fingers associated with block chords that allow you to dress the chord up while fingerpicking. So at this stage, the peasant is leaping from chord to chord like someone on stones crossing a brook, infilling where possible. But that is different (to change the image completely) from having a melody upon which the chords hang like washing on the line (or enrich). Is getting from chords with bits of melody to melody supported by chords a mental shift? It is also noticeable that some styles have the melody on the high strings, and some have it on the low strings. Is one style easier to get you melodying? My question is how you break out of the "chord with a couple of melody notes" approach, to the opposite -- which is the same question Bonnie started with -- but I am thrilled that she asked it -- it is a big stumbling block mentally. More importantly, what is the best way of getting from approach 1 to approach 2? Does it just come after time, as someone said earlier? I know it has been answered a little, but any further help would be appreciated -- I am in exactly the same mental space as BB, exactly. (Great minds paralyze alike....)
yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: beyond basic chords & picking technique
From: Pete Peterson
Date: 05 Jan 00 - 01:23 PM

IMHO (that preface is necessary) I would stick with one style for a while. Even more, I would make that style a clawhammer style; you will hear the melodies "more easily" and be able to play them. A Scruggs style will play about one note in four as a melody note while clawhammer will be less confusing. That having been said,do you have a friend or teacher who you can learn from/ IF SO, then learn what that person does for a while, then branch out on your own. BB has Rick for a teacher but judging from a thread about a month ago hashe has invented a wonderful series of chords which sound GOOD together and almost "implied" a melody; she is a composer whose skills have not yet caught up with her brain. I personally am contented to play tunes other people have written. Good Luck!


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Subject: RE: beyond basic chords & picking technique
From: T in Oklahoma (Okiemockbird)
Date: 05 Jan 00 - 01:34 PM

Banjo Bonnie, I have been greatly encouraged by the replies you have recieved to your question.

When you post a question for yourself such as the one that started this thread, you also do all of us learners a good turn.

Thanks again for starting this thread, and for helping make the Mudcat the fine virtual place it is.

T.


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Subject: RE: beyond basic chords & picking technique
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 05 Jan 00 - 02:42 PM

Clawhammer'f fine, Scruggs is fine. But the real beauty of the Five String Banjo is good frailing, I reckon.<>P

And for banjos playing tunes fast, can't beat Irish plectrum four string banjo.


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Subject: RE: beyond basic chords & picking technique
From: Midchuck
Date: 05 Jan 00 - 03:00 PM

...the real beauty of the Five String Banjo...

Oh, that I should live to see those words written and meant seriously...wait 'till I tell the people on the flatpicking list....(just kidding - unless I meet a loud, and not-very-good, bluegrass player.)


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Subject: RE: beyond basic chords & picking technique
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 05 Jan 00 - 03:16 PM

Experience has shown me that if you start off by connecting the chords to each other by simple bass runs and then progress to adding a melody note here and there on the treble strings, it will make the process ininitely less difficult. By then your right and left hand become used to constantly moving (as opposed to the static approach wherein an "A" chord is an "A" chord is an "A" chord....as G.S. might have put it)

There's only one way to really get there though: Get the right directions, and practice, practice, practice. Three of the folks I work with now would never think of going on a business or pleasure trip without taking their instrument. They're truly hooked, and ya gotta get hooked!

Obviously the instrument companies have finally clicked into this, as they're all marketing "travel instruments" now. Banjo, guitar, even mandolin (which I would think wouldn't NEED a travelling version) and dulcimer.

For what it's worth, 25 years ago I either got,(or figured it out wrong) bad initial direction on fiddle. I've been paying for it ever since. That's why I can be a stickler at times on doing things in the right order, and with the most efficient right and left hand positions.

Rick


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Subject: RE: beyond basic chords & picking technique
From: Little Neophyte
Date: 05 Jan 00 - 03:17 PM

I guess beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder, right Midchuck? I love my banjo.

I am very thankful for all the contributions to this thread. The answers are exceptionally helpful.
Many, many thanks,

BB


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Subject: RE: beyond basic chords & picking technique
From: Terry Allan Hall
Date: 05 Jan 00 - 03:44 PM

Ms. Banjo Bonnie (no sexism here!...)

Just pick out the melody S-L-O-W-L-Y...as you get to know your instrument better, you'll eventually be able to translate from brain to finger instantly....the more you do, the quicker it'll come. Then comes improvising...the fun stuff!

No short-cuts, I'm afraid.


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Subject: RE: beyond basic chords & picking technique
From: GUEST,Dave W.
Date: 12 Mar 06 - 04:10 PM

Great thread!


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Subject: RE: beyond basic chords & picking technique
From: GUEST
Date: 17 Feb 13 - 03:35 PM


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Subject: RE: beyond basic chords & picking technique
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 17 Feb 13 - 08:04 PM

I really miss having Rick Fielding around. Thank you, Guest, for bringing him back for a spell.


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Subject: RE: beyond basic chords & picking technique
From: The Sandman
Date: 18 Feb 13 - 05:59 PM

clawhammer banjo is in its simplest form, is frailin without the strum, however i find the clawhammer techniques better if you up pick, i use threefingers, my ring covers string 1, my middle string 2, my index string 3 nd 4, that means i can do the equivalent of drop thumbing with either my middle up or ring up, or i can pick the string higher in pitch for example melody string 2, with either an up string 1 or an up string 3 and get a flowing sound.
it sometimes pays to take a step in the direction of keith style,for example instead of playing a d and an e on the 1 string, to play the d on the 1 string and the higher pitched e on the lower 2 string, so you use 2 different fingers and get a legato sound


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Subject: RE: beyond basic chords & picking technique
From: GUEST,Everett Bonds.
Date: 02 Jul 13 - 10:36 PM

Dear BB,
You ask a very important question. This question can make the difference between an amateur and a professional guitarist. That might be why your question hasn't been answered. The best of all possible world's would be where you think of a tune in your head and you automatically play it on guitar. That is what I and everybody else in the world want to be with our playing. Sadly, we don't know how to get there. I can tell you how, but it is up to you to get yourself there. It is an answer most people do not want to hear. But is it possible? Absolutely. Here is the answer. Alternating bass plus picking out the lead, while you are using a fingper-picking pattern of alternating bass. Many guitarists have said, "It has changed their life." It has certainly changed mine. Even if you only want to finger-pick the pattern without picking out lead notes, but instead sing, you will STILL sound like a pro. (using string number, here's the pattern. T6-3-T4-2-T5-1-T4-2. Now, you will struggle with this for about six months, if you practice every day. Sorry, it won't happen over night. Your brain has to make the Brain to hand connection, which takes time. But, just think, in 6 short months, you will sound like a pro. Use this pattern with the E chord while learning. And, as a reminder, the reason you strike the 6th string first in the pattern is because the 6th string is the ROOT of the E chord. Sorry, in become a pro, you actually have to learn about something called MUSIC Theory. Roots of chords is just part of that ugly animal called music. But, if you love music then, hopefully you won't mind, too much. It is very important that you know this info. I can spell it out for you.
E chord, use 6th string as beginning pattern string- T6.
E, F and G in the open chord position use T6.
A, B7 and C in the open position, (usually in the 1st 3 frets of the guitar) are open chords. USE the T5 string.
Any Root landing on the D string, uses the Root D as it's beginning string T4. If you do not know the names of the strings or roots of each chord, seriously, get a guitar teacher. You absolutely need one, unless you already play another instrument and have learned music theory. There really not much to learn, esp. if you are only focusing on Chord root. However, this particular pattern can make you sound like a professional very well. And, if you sing while finger-picking, that would be a plus. And, if you ever got to the point where you could play lead during your pattern playing, you would be thought of as a musical genius. as many do.   
My particular history in finding this pattern as a side note could be interesting. I had been playing guitar about 5 years and I happened to notice a girl using this pattern. I got side-tracked and when I finally got around to asking her about it, she had left. Fast forward another 10 years. Interestingly, the young man was probably 5 years my junior, but was a guitar instructor and used the Drop D tuning, which sounded fabulous. He gave me instruction on how to play the pattern. It is not of my own making, believe me. it sounds gorgeous on an acoustic guitar. I personally prefer the high-end D-41. D-42 Martins, mainly because I can afford them. There were many years, when I couldn't. Thankfully, those days are over. I just recently sent my nephew a Martin D-41. Thankful would be a word I think he would use in being gifted this guitar. So, my preference before this time was any 300 dollar guitar. So, to those who can't afford a great guitar, I understand that predicament well. For those who can afford to shell out 3,000- to 5,000 dollars, go to Elderly-instruments.com. They are the TOP Distributor sales in Martin guitars in the world. There is a reason for this, it is called service. And, no, I do not work for them. I am a valued customer. The other Distributor for Martin that I find in the Southeastern USA, is MyfavoriteGuitars.com. You will get great prices at both Distrutors and excelent service. The guitars are shipped with loving care and it will amaze you. They want your repeat business. Ok, start learning that pattern and enrich your life, even if you can't be a professional, at least be competent. Best regards, Everett Bonds. PS.
Since most people don't use a finger-picking pattern, they will be amazed at your level of competency.


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Subject: RE: beyond basic chords & picking technique
From: banjoman
Date: 03 Jul 13 - 06:48 AM

Interesting thread. Lots of good advice. I have been playing banjo and guitar for 50+ years and have never been able to read music dots. I started by simply picking out the tune, a bit like one finger piano, and then adding chords and rhythm. Its worked fine for me.
Keep,Pickin'


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Subject: RE: beyond basic chords & picking technique
From: GUEST
Date: 03 Jul 13 - 08:04 AM

Lots of wisdom being displayed here.

For me the key is to play with other people at every opportunity, I find that I can learn something from just about everybody.

We all learn from those who are 'better' than us but, every once in a while playing with a complete novice, he/she will do something (or try to do something)that will stop me in my tracks and say to myself, "Why don't I do it like that?". Even after 50+ years you never stop learning.


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Subject: RE: beyond basic chords & picking technique
From: The Sandman
Date: 03 Jul 13 - 08:10 AM

rick fielding talked about bass runs, some tips,imo you need to know what notes of the scale make up a simple major chord, they are 1 3 and 5, then add into your bass run note 2 of the scale and note 6, so for g major chord a good starting idea for a bass run is gabdeg, note 12356 of the g major scale,this can be applied to all major chords, c major would be cdegac, this is just a starting point, next think about occasionally adding the fourth of the scale, sometimes instead of or sometimes before and/ or after the third note of the scale, so if playing a g bass run this would be a c note, you just have to experiment with this by ear as to when it sounds right.
the other completely different alternative is to look at the blues scale.


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Mudcat time: 19 September 11:50 PM EDT

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