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Self Taught: Fingerpicking

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Ragtime Guitar (28)


GUEST,Mary T. 22 Mar 05 - 04:58 PM
John Robinson (aka Cittern) 22 Mar 05 - 05:09 PM
Bobert 22 Mar 05 - 05:15 PM
scouse 22 Mar 05 - 05:17 PM
scouse 22 Mar 05 - 05:22 PM
GUEST,Mary T. 22 Mar 05 - 05:41 PM
GUEST,van lingle 22 Mar 05 - 05:45 PM
GUEST,Les B. 22 Mar 05 - 06:00 PM
GUEST 22 Mar 05 - 06:12 PM
GUEST,Val 22 Mar 05 - 06:15 PM
PoppaGator 22 Mar 05 - 06:48 PM
khandu 22 Mar 05 - 07:33 PM
PoppaGator 22 Mar 05 - 07:41 PM
Leadfingers 22 Mar 05 - 07:43 PM
khandu 22 Mar 05 - 09:15 PM
PoppaGator 22 Mar 05 - 09:37 PM
GUEST 22 Mar 05 - 10:21 PM
Bobert 22 Mar 05 - 11:02 PM
s&r 23 Mar 05 - 03:46 AM
GUEST 23 Mar 05 - 08:18 AM
Chris in Wheaton 23 Mar 05 - 11:02 AM
Lowden Jameswright 23 Mar 05 - 12:36 PM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 23 Mar 05 - 01:09 PM
GUEST,joseacsilva@sercomtel.com.br 23 Mar 05 - 02:05 PM
M.Ted 23 Mar 05 - 02:22 PM
GUEST 23 Mar 05 - 03:00 PM
John Hardly 23 Mar 05 - 03:19 PM
Justa Picker 23 Mar 05 - 06:15 PM
PoppaGator 23 Mar 05 - 07:27 PM
Rumncoke 23 Mar 05 - 07:52 PM
GUEST,Patrick Costello 23 Mar 05 - 09:00 PM
PoppaGator 24 Mar 05 - 11:08 AM
GUEST 24 Mar 05 - 11:15 AM
Peter T. 24 Mar 05 - 12:00 PM
GUEST,Patrick Costello 24 Mar 05 - 01:00 PM
GUEST,Uncle Jaque 24 Mar 05 - 01:06 PM
GUEST,PoppaGator 24 Mar 05 - 01:12 PM
Peter T. 25 Mar 05 - 06:34 AM
GUEST 25 Mar 05 - 07:23 AM
catspaw49 25 Mar 05 - 07:25 AM
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Subject: Self Taught: Fingerpicking
From: GUEST,Mary T.
Date: 22 Mar 05 - 04:58 PM

I've been playing the guitar for about two years (self taught.) When I fingerpick, I use my thumb and first two fingers only (my 3rd and 4th finger is never used.) My thumb sometimes plays the bottom four strings on the guitar when playing certain chords while fingerpicking. I can do this cleanly. The 1st and 2nd top strings are always played by my 1st and 2nd fingers. Is this fine to continue in this way? I tried earlier on using the thumb only for the bottom strings (strings 4, 5, and 6), but, it was never natural for me. Does it really matter how you fingerpick as long as you like what you hear?

Thanks,
MT


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Subject: RE: Self Taught: Fingerpicking
From: John Robinson (aka Cittern)
Date: 22 Mar 05 - 05:09 PM

Hi Mary - are you based in the UK?   Julie Ellison has a great way of teaching claw hammer (that's clawhammer as it is understood in the UK not the USA) - the tutor book is some way off but she does workshops fairly often and is also willing to give short guitar lessons during breaks and before/after a performance.


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Subject: RE: Self Taught: Fingerpicking
From: Bobert
Date: 22 Mar 05 - 05:15 PM

Well, if yer hitting the strings when you want to hit them, then keep it up... It sounds as if yer pickin' hand has allready gotten down the rote memory and has declared independence, which is good... One less thing to be comncerned about but with that said...

... if you find that you are picking the same on every song you play you might want to intervene and have a little ntalk with the picking hand because it can learn something too well and it will be hard to break the habits later...

Try making the fingers occasionally pick the bass strings as well as the others with the thumb just watching. This is a good exercise. And yes, it can be done.

But sounds like yer off to a good start...

Bobert


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Subject: RE: Self Taught: Fingerpicking
From: scouse
Date: 22 Mar 05 - 05:17 PM

I've never heard two people play the same piece exactly the same...so if you like your way stay with it and be y'self and develope your own style..over the years you'll pick and add from everybody else.. As aye Phil


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Subject: RE: Self Taught: Fingerpicking
From: scouse
Date: 22 Mar 05 - 05:22 PM

Oh, Forgot to add, don't listen to twits who say "Your doin' it wrong,You should do it this way." Every-one does it there own way!!! As aye, Phil


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Subject: RE: Self Taught: Fingerpicking
From: GUEST,Mary T.
Date: 22 Mar 05 - 05:41 PM

Cittern, I'm in the U.S.

Also, I'm able to use other fingerpicking patterns playing this way.

Mary in Seattle


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Subject: RE: Self Taught: Fingerpicking
From: GUEST,van lingle
Date: 22 Mar 05 - 05:45 PM

The answer to your last question, Mary T is, IMHO, an emphatic no. It's important to listen to yourself and decide what's sounds good and bad according to you. That is part and parcel of developing your own style. And what Bobert said. Enjoy the ride. vl


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Subject: RE: Self Taught: Fingerpicking
From: GUEST,Les B.
Date: 22 Mar 05 - 06:00 PM

Mary T. - Sounds like you're moving in the right direction. After about 40 years of doing fingerpicking I've moved from thumb and four fingers down to thumb and first finger mainly.
That is, alternating bass with the thumb and first finger picking melody or running a pattern. You can also sort of switch that around and pick melody with the thumb and do alternating high notes with the finger/s (out of chords).

And yes, sometimes you can go pretty high up the strings with the thumb, and once in a while pretty low with the finger/s - depends on where you need to find the melody notes. Also you can alternate on the same string with thumb & forefinger to run fast melodies - the fingerpicker's version of flatpicking.


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Subject: RE: Self Taught: Fingerpicking
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Mar 05 - 06:12 PM

This website says Merle Travis used only his thumb and index finger, and well.... He sure got a lot of mileage out of those two appendages.

I think Chet Atkins used only his thumb, index and middle finger for the Travis-style songs he played. He might've taught himself to use more fingers when he branched out into classical and jazz arrangements.


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Subject: RE: Self Taught: Fingerpicking
From: GUEST,Val
Date: 22 Mar 05 - 06:15 PM

I evolved to fingerpicking from arpeggios on simple chord progressions. Usually the three lowest strings are the territory of the thumb, and the upper 3 got one finger each. After getting bored with that structure, I started emphasizing the melody notes of the chord and filling in the runs in the melodies - but most often I still keep the 3 fingers (I don't use the right pinky hardly at all)on the top 3 strings. Works OK for me, but probably not the "best" way to learn.

For what you're doing, Mary, if it works don't worry about it (I almost said "don't fret", being 'Merican who grew up in Oklahoma, but I figured I'd skip the pun)

However, if you want to do arpeggiated chords amongst the melody picking (kind of the opposite of my progression), at some point you might want to bring in the ring finger to fill out the chord a bit more.


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Subject: RE: Self Taught: Fingerpicking
From: PoppaGator
Date: 22 Mar 05 - 06:48 PM

I'm with just about everyone else who responded ~ do whatcha wanna!

There's no one "right way," and the way that's right for you is whatever feels best. The free-er you become, the better. And like Bobert says, your picking hand will eventually declare independence and start doing things for you that you never would have thought up on your own.

Once upon a time, during my first few years of playing, I fingerpicked some songs and strummed others. After 5 or 6 years, when I had switched from nylon to steel strings and from bare fingers to picks (flatpick for strumming, thumb-plus-two-fingerpicks for picking), I made a commitment to fingerpicks and wore them at all times for all types of numbers. For a while, I still (carefully) fingerpicked some pieces and (freely) thumb-strummed others, but I gradually developed a more integrated style.

Now I can hit either a single string or a group of two or more strings with any stroke of any of the three picks, and it's all more fluid, more dynamic, and less conscious than my playing was back in those earlier years.

I'm a great believer in three-finger picking (i.e., thumb-plus-two, just like you). Some of the greatest of the Delta blues players got a very emphatic sound out of thumb-plus-one, and of course the classical system is thumb-plus-three, but thumb-plus-two seems to me to be an effective compromise.

And, of course, you not under any obligation to use every finger in every song; for example, you can let your middle finger rest if you can do, say, a Fred McDowell song most effectively with the two-finger method. I used to strum quite a few tunes using the thumbpick only, and there's still at least one song I can think of that I still approach that way ~ there's more to the arrangement than "just-strumming," but all the notes, partial-chords, and full chords are downstrokes, and I do it all without using index and middle fingers at all.

We've had a few good recent discussions about "beginner's techniques," most of which included some good posts about fingerpicking. I believe there's one entitled "Right-Hand Technique" or something like that which would be worth looking up.


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Subject: RE: Self Taught: Fingerpicking
From: khandu
Date: 22 Mar 05 - 07:33 PM

PoppaGator, I'm with you and several others here...thumb plus two (however, I usually go "bareback"...no picks).

Chet, Merle and Mississippi John were the guitarists I admired when I was a beginning fingerpicker, Mary T. Funny thing...they still are. Though I tried to play like them, I have never sounded like them, even when I play "note-for-note". This is because I am none of these men.

The kind I play best is the "khandu-style". The kind you'll play best is the Mary T style, in whatever finger configuration you use. I am a firm believer in that the most joy a person can get out of any instrument is when he puts through the fingers what is in his heart.

Remember, the instrument was made for you, you were not made for the instrument.

ken


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Subject: RE: Self Taught: Fingerpicking
From: PoppaGator
Date: 22 Mar 05 - 07:41 PM

I shouldn't really endorse the use of picks; anyone with strong/hard nails and the self-discipline to maintain them is probably better off learning to play au naturel. One less thing you have to worry about carrying around with you.

I was once a nail-biter, but managed to overcome that bad habit. Even so, my nails remain pretty thin and weak, easily split and broken, and in the meanwhile I've habituated myself to the picks so thoroughly that what once felt completely unnatural is now no problem.

I've been playing exclusively with fingerpicks since 1970; there have been periods of years when I didn't play very much, but whenever I've played, I've worn a plastic thumbpick and two metal fingerpicks.


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Subject: RE: Self Taught: Fingerpicking
From: Leadfingers
Date: 22 Mar 05 - 07:43 PM

Back then i was strictly a Dum-Ching guitarist , then a mate showed me the Thumb and one Finger bit . That has now developed into a 'sort'
of Clawhammer , using thumb and three fingers , usually with picks !
One day I might try the Flat Pick and fingers style perhaps . But as long as it works , what the hell !!


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Subject: RE: Self Taught: Fingerpicking
From: khandu
Date: 22 Mar 05 - 09:15 PM

I use a plastic thumbpick & metal finger picks on the rare times I attempt to play a banjo. In fact, I've never seen a banjo player who did not use picks...nor a pedal steel nor dobro player.

The flat-pick & fingers style is beyond me. Seen quite a many who did that & did it well, but not me.

Often when I pick single stings, instead of a pick, I pinch the string between my thumb and forefinger and let them slip off (that's if the tune is not too fast!). It sound is a bit different from just picking it and I like it.

To each his own!

k


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Subject: RE: Self Taught: Fingerpicking
From: PoppaGator
Date: 22 Mar 05 - 09:37 PM

I think the flatpick-plus-fingers technique vs thumbpick-plus-fingers is pretty much an "either/or" proposition ~ once you learn one way, it would be both very difficult and kinda pointless to retrain yourself to do the other.

The players who use a flatpick often pluck their treble strings with bare middle and ring fingers, which demands good nails and good classical-style "sweet-spot" technique to balance the volume of those treble notes against the flatpicked bass notes. It's the perfect way to switch easily between straight flatpicking and a variety of fingerpicking, and some of the absolute greatest virtuoso guitarists do it that way ~ most notably, perhaps, Chet Atkins.

(Chet is by-and-large an electric guitar player; I wonder if the flatpick-plus-fingers method can work as well on acoustic guitars as it does on electrics ~ ??)

Also, there are some who use a thumbpick plus bare fingernails, which demands the same skills at producing good volume with those bare fingernails.

Fingerpicking with fingerpicks must be a dying art. I haven't been able to buy a decent thumbpick at any of the nearby music stores, and I live in a fairly large city with a tremendous musical heritage (New Orleans). To replace the last plastic National "M" thumpick that broke on me, I had to drive out to a Guitar Center (major chain store) in the suburbs. The gasoline may have cost me more than the pick.

Thank God my metal fingerpicks (also Nationals) are not going to break. I have many years of squeezing and clamping invested in fitting them to my ever-changing aging arthritic fingertips. If I ever lose 'em and need a new pair, I hope they're still being sold somewhere I can get to.


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Subject: RE: Self Taught: Fingerpicking
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Mar 05 - 10:21 PM

Classical players use all their fingers


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Subject: RE: Self Taught: Fingerpicking
From: Bobert
Date: 22 Mar 05 - 11:02 PM

I'm with khandu on picks.... I gotta a big ol' goober calus on the outside of my thumb... Yeah, no plastic, please...

Bobert


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Subject: RE: Self Taught: Fingerpicking
From: s&r
Date: 23 Mar 05 - 03:46 AM

The late great Isaac Guillory said when he was asked why he used the pinky on his right hand: "Because I've got one"

Classical players often use imimimim for scale runs and pima fro arpeggios. Pinkies are seldom used except in flamenco styles.

Rules are for guidance not obedience: you may be told all sorts of rules - ask the reason, and if the rulegiver hasn't got a reason, ignore the rule.

Stu


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Subject: RE: Self Taught: Fingerpicking
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Mar 05 - 08:18 AM

I stand corrected. Here is a link to an article describing what the previous poster alluded to. The article makes a persuasive case for using the 's' finger.


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Subject: RE: Self Taught: Fingerpicking
From: Chris in Wheaton
Date: 23 Mar 05 - 11:02 AM

Take a look at the Tabledit files - lots of fun to try to fingerpick these and even fun just to listen to.
Also, I don't think there is a tab for Guabi Guabi, but I don't think there is a song that is more fun to fingerpick. Tried it yet? The old Jim Kweskin "Relax Your Mind" with this has been reissued on cd. Well worth the exorbitant cost.

Chris in Wheaton, IL


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Subject: RE: Self Taught: Fingerpicking
From: Lowden Jameswright
Date: 23 Mar 05 - 12:36 PM

I'm self-taught (with reference to several books/techniques & watching/learning from dozens of great players over the years) and I fingerpick in a variety of styles according to whatever I'm playing and what effect I want. Initially I learnt the classic clawhammer style, using the thumb for Bass strings and three fingers for each of the treble strings. After a while I began to experiment using all 4 fingers and developed some very interesting effects. Also, using the "pinky" gets you out of the habit of resting it on the soundboard.

Obviously there's no one "correct" approach to fingerstyle guitar; do what feels right for you and develop your own "signature" is my advice to anyone starting out on this most wonderful of adventures.
I don't subscribe to the view that learning one method though will put you into a habit that will be hard to break. Master that method and, if you want, then develop and master another and so on. For real variety, venture into mix n'match!


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Subject: RE: Self Taught: Fingerpicking
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 23 Mar 05 - 01:09 PM

Do it your way Mary, and if the number of people in the room is the same at the end as at the beginning, it's working fine.

Don T.


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Subject: RE: Self Taught: Fingerpicking
From: GUEST,joseacsilva@sercomtel.com.br
Date: 23 Mar 05 - 02:05 PM

Hello Mary. I´m a sef-taught fingerpicker for more than 25 years, and use thumb(with thumbpick) and the other four fingers.I´ve got used to it since the beginning and feel confortable about that.The great fingerpickers use(d) thumb and index finger(the middle finger at the most) like many people have already mentioned .Maybe you´ll have to take care of your nails if you use ´em to pick, or use fingerpicks(I´ve never could learn how to use ´em right).Whatever the case don´t feel wrong for picking the way you seem to sound ok, ´cause anyone says so.
    a long fingerpicking life ...

Joe ( o )===#


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Subject: RE: Self Taught: Fingerpicking
From: M.Ted
Date: 23 Mar 05 - 02:22 PM

There are right ways and wrong ways to do certain things--you generally recognize the wrong way, because it doesn't work--no one can tell you here whether you are right or wrong because no one can hear what it sounds like when you play---the sound is the key thing--

As a guitar teacher, I have worked with a lot of people who started out "self-taught"--most of them didn't know how to get a good solid sound out of their instrument, particularly when it came to fingerpicking--

One thing that I must say also, is that, notwithstanding all of you "Do what you want how you want" types, you can't do any damn thing you want and call it "Travis Picking" --and also, clawhammer or frailing style guitar is a distinct style of playing all its own, and not the business LJ above describes-- check this, or Basics of Clawhammer Guitar. touch base with Mudcatter Jody Stecher who is pretty well known for playing this way--


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Subject: RE: Self Taught: Fingerpicking
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Mar 05 - 03:00 PM

I must've missed that post. Okay, which one of you posters said you can do any damn thing you want and call it "Travis Picking?"

Notwithstanding all of you "Do it how I want you to do it" there are other ways to approach fingerstyle than what someone tells you is the right way and the wrong way. That person usually has an ulterior motive, like separating you from your money and giving you little in return.


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Subject: RE: Self Taught: Fingerpicking
From: John Hardly
Date: 23 Mar 05 - 03:19 PM

I think that you can develop bad right-hand habits -- at least habits that might limit you in the future. I will say that it has been my experience that when you finally get comfortable with your "fingerpicking" right hand, you will almost inevitably find that your right hand will, of necessity, learn to advance with the chord/fingering vocabulary that you develop with your left hand (assuming right-handed playing here).

M. Ted's right though. Some styles are pretty strictly defined by technique. In those styles there is a very limited "do-your-own-thing-ness" to them. They've developed that way because that is the way you achieve that specific sound.


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Subject: RE: Self Taught: Fingerpicking
From: Justa Picker
Date: 23 Mar 05 - 06:15 PM

If you want to impress yourself or just have fun/enjoyment, do it any damn way you like.

But if you want to be taken seriously (and enjoy the respect of your peers) do it the right way and learn everything you can about it.
Stefan Grossman knows a thing or 2 about the proper techniques and I promise you, you won't feel ripped off.*

Better to learn the correct techniques than to have to un-learn them down the road - should you decide to get 'serious' about it.

*I have no financial interest in Stefan Grossman's business.


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Subject: RE: Self Taught: Fingerpicking
From: PoppaGator
Date: 23 Mar 05 - 07:27 PM

Let me second Mr. Picker's endorsement of Stefan Grossman's instructional materials. I certainly learned more from his publications than from any other single source; of course, you have to do plenty of listening as well, and close observation of any accomplished pickers you're able to see in person helps, too. I'd say that Grossman was my single most important source of instruction in fingerpicking, and that Mississippi John Hurt was my single greatest source of inspiration.

I still find myself more-or-less on the "anarchist" side of this little debate, though. I don't think formal lessons are absolutely necessary for everybody, and I don't believe it's necessary to master different historical styles of picking (unless, of course, you want to).

My goal was always to develop a personal style I could use to play anything and everything, and I'm fairly satisfied with my progress after nearly forty years of on-and-off practice. Of course, I have tried to avoid doing anything so totally "wrong" that it would impede my ability to make pleasing tones come out of my instrument ~ but I have never had the slightest concern that my playing conform to any particular established method (e.g., "Travis" picking, "clawhammer" picking, etc.)

I might add that my most intense study of Stephan Grossman was back before the days of videotape, or even audio cassettes ~ it all came out of books. Nowadays, when the printed page of tablature can be supplemented by electronic media, it should be easier, quicker, and more pleasant to learn than it was way back then.

Happy Traums' stauff is good, too, and I learned a great deal from one particular Oak Publications book by a fellow named (I think) Donald Garwood; I don't know if he ever produced another book let alone any audio or video tapes, but I would recommend his work to anyone who might find it.


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Subject: RE: Self Taught: Fingerpicking
From: Rumncoke
Date: 23 Mar 05 - 07:52 PM

Try putting aside a little time to sit with some sort of recording device and just play in order to hear what you sound like playing.

It is OK to sing a bit if you want to hear how something fits in, but don't reherse, just improvise - you can always wipe the evidence if it doesn't work out, no one ever needs to know - you can play really slow and get things wrong - it is allowed, and it does help to listen to yourself stumbling through something you did a few minutes earlier, and play along, It is actually a way to discover just what it is you are doing wrong (at least it is for me)and start to get it right.

Sometimes you realise that something you thought you were just getting away with sounds really strained or hurried, or just plain dreadfull and it is a case of back to the drawing board - but after a while (if you do keep the recordings) you should be able to hear that you are improving - with any luck and a bit of practise.

Anne


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Subject: RE: Self Taught: Fingerpicking
From: GUEST,Patrick Costello
Date: 23 Mar 05 - 09:00 PM

Learning the guitar isn't easy. You can read about what I went through here.

In terms of the original question my advice would be not to worry about a specific picking pattern. An awful lot of fingerstyle guitar "stuff" out there gets a tad too wrapped up in the presentation and finger movements of a particular tune when all you really need is some basic ideas to start working with.

When I was studying Kenpo karate there was a saying my instructors uses to toss around now and then that went, "It's better to have one technique you can fight with than ten techniques that fight you."

You can carry this kind of thinking over to the guitar pretty easily if you start messing around with the idea of core techniques.

In frailing banjo the core technique is a simple right hand picking pattern made up of a quarter note and two eighth notes. Almost every "advanced" frailing banjo technique is a adaptation of that basic picking pattern.

If we stop to realize that a lot of early folk, country and blues guitar players started out on homemade banjos it's easy to wonder if that core technique from frailing carried over to the guitar.

If you start out playing a simple thumb-brush:
(this will look better in a monospaced font like courier)
      C:

   ------0--------0---+-----0-------0----
     ------1--------1---+-----1-------1----
     ------0--------0---+-----0-------0----
     ------2--------2---+-----2-------2----
     ---3--3--------3---+--3--3-------3----
     ------3----3---3---+-----3----3--3----
   
Count:  1  2    3   4   |  1  2    3  4 

(we're playing a simple quarter note strum here)

And once you practice that for a little while and use it in a jam it's easy to move on to the Carter Strum - which is actually nothing more than the "bump dit-ty" from frailing banjo
    C:

     ------0--0------0--0--+-----0--0-------0--0--
     ------1--1------1--1--+-----1--1-------1--1--
     ------0---------0-----+-----0----------0-----
     ------2---------2-----+-----2----------2-----
     ---3--3---------3-----+--3--3----------3-----
     ------3-----3---3-----+-----3-------3--3-----
   
Count:  1  2  &  3   4  &  |  1  2  &    3  4  &

This isn't a quarter note strum, it's a quarter note and two eighth notes played in a "down, down, up" pattern. You can do it with a flatpick, but to "get" the rhythm down for fingerstyle guitar it's better to play the pattern with your thumb and index finger. Down with the thumb on the bass string, down with the thumb for the strum and then strum up with the index finger.

You jam with that for a while and the next step is to change up the rhythm into something more like fingerstyle guitar by replacing the strums with a single note.

    C:
     ------------0------------0--
     ----------------------------
     ------0------------0--------
     ----------------------------
     ---3-----------3------------
     ---------3-------------3----
   
Count:  1  &  2  &  3   &   4  & 

And it doesn't have to be single notes:

     ------------0------------0--
     ---1-----------1------------
     ------0------------0--------
     ---------2-------------2----
     ---3-----------3------------
     ---------3-------------3----
   
Count:  1  &  2  &  3   &   4  & 


And you don't have to take out all of the thumb-brushes:

     ---------0--0------------0--
     ---------1-----1-------1----
     ------0--0---------0---0----
     ---------2-------------2----
     ---3-----------3-------3----
     -----------------------3----
   
Count:  1  &  2  &  3   &   4  & 



Once you can keep the rhythm smooth playing a string of eighth notes the next step is to mix the alternating bass with the scale (I went into this n an earlier Mudcat post)

     -----------0--1--3--1--0----
     -----1--3-----------------3-
     ----------------------------
     -----------0-----------0----
     -----3----------3-----------
     ----------------------------
Count:  1  &  2  &  3   &   4  &

And right here you have the pattern that Doc Watson uses for Doc's Guitar, Don't Think Twice, She's Gone Away, Deep River Blues and a bunch of other songs. It also shows up in the playing of musicians as divers as Merle Travis, Leo Kottke, Gary Davis, John Cephas and God only knows how many others.

If you tab out, say, Deep River Blues and Doc's Guitar on paper it looks like there is this long string of individual finger movements you have to memorize to play the song. The reality is that you only need to understand a few concepts to be able to play those songs and a thousand others.

Part of the trick is to realize that any song can be played in an almost infinite number of ways. Hardly any player worth a hoot will play something exactly the same way twice. Don't be afraid to experiment.

When it comes to what fingers and how many fingers to use my advice is to figure that out for yourself. "How" you play a song isn't important as long as you are making musical sense.

When it comes to fingerpicks, learn to work with them and without them. Remember that some situations are going to call for different approaches.

For my own playing I really hate standard thumbpicks. The blade of a thumbpick makes it really tough to throw in a thumb-brush now and then so what I wound up doing was making a metal band that went right around where my thumb hits the strings. I get the volume of a pick, but I don't have a blade to get caught in the strings.
If you don't feel like making one a standard left-handed metal thumbpick worn on your right thumb will work. You can also start messing around with some cool slap-bass ideas to mix into blues tunes.

Be careful of books - an this is coming from a guy who writes music books for a living. A lot of teachers get too wrapped up in giving you what he or she thinks is the right answers and that just won't help you. Find a resource that makes you ask the right questions. It's the process of looking at things and asking yourself how or why something does or doesn't work that will lead to finding your own voice on the guitar.

It's not a matter of right and wrong. Use your head, follow your heart and keep in mind that advice you pay for will always be what you want to hear, but almost never what you need.

-Patrick


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Subject: RE: Self Taught: Fingerpicking
From: PoppaGator
Date: 24 Mar 05 - 11:08 AM

Patrick: Great stuff!

Lemme clue you in on a little HTML trick: how to start and stop printing in a monospaced "typewriter-type" font like Courier. The code is "tt" ~ type [open-bracket]tt[close-bracket] to start and [open-bracket][slash]tt[close-bracket] to stop and go back to the "regular" font.

The open and close bracket to use, at least on this site, are the "less-than" and "greater-than" signs ~ [shift]-[period] and [shift]-[comma].

Using these codes, your first bit of tab looks like this:

If you start out playing a simple thumb-brush:
(this will look better in a monospaced font like courier)
      C:

    ------0--------0---+-----0-------0----
    ------1--------1---+-----1-------1----
    ------0--------0---+-----0-------0----
    ------2--------2---+-----2-------2----
    ---3--3--------3---+--3--3-------3----
    ------3----3---3---+-----3----3--3----
   
Count: 1 2    3   4   | 1 2    3 4


(we're playing a simple quarter note strum here)

I hope I've made this clear enough. It isn't possible to just type the correct code with the correct characters for you to see, because that would be read as code and not show up in the message. If you get it, you'll be able to do an even better job showing us your stuff!


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Subject: RE: Self Taught: Fingerpicking
From: GUEST
Date: 24 Mar 05 - 11:15 AM

Cool! I wasn't sure if using HTML here would work. I'll keep that in mind if I wind up posting anything else.

-Patrick


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Subject: RE: Self Taught: Fingerpicking
From: Peter T.
Date: 24 Mar 05 - 12:00 PM

Hey Patrick, when are you going to come out with Volume Two of your guitar method as you threaten?

yours,

Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Self Taught: Fingerpicking
From: GUEST,Patrick Costello
Date: 24 Mar 05 - 01:00 PM

It's hard to say. Volume Two (Getting Good) and Volume Three (Be Cool) are basically written - but for some reason it's banjo stuff that's paying the bills right now.

I find it hard to figure out because nobody really gives a hoot or a holler about the banjo anymore - at least that's what I thought until we started doing the book signing & workshop gigs. For every guitar player we get there's ten or more people walking up with banjos.

It's crazy. The banjo market is supposed to be dead, but everywhere we go there is this crowd of people ranging from eight to eighty and almost all of them are holding banjos.

Whatever the reasons for the banjo material selling, as a business we can't ignore it. Right now most of our resources are being pumped into keeping the two banjo books in print and gearing up for the release of (sob) a third banjo title this year.

When the guitar stuff start picking up we're ready to roll with it, but until then the guitar has to play second fiddle.

Like they say, there ain't no business like show business.

-Patrick


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Subject: RE: Self Taught: Fingerpicking
From: GUEST,Uncle Jaque
Date: 24 Mar 05 - 01:06 PM

Works for me.

I started out sort of synthesizing some 5-string banjo techniques to the guitar, then started studying the Justin HOLLAND method, which was the way people - at least most Americans - played guitar in the mid 1800's. That fits in with my Civil War Reenacting impression, and is pretty much a melodic classical style.

It works pretty well on my gut-strung "Parlor" guitar as well as a Yamaha 12-string that I string up with 6, leaving plenty of space between the strings to fingerpick.


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Subject: RE: Self Taught: Fingerpicking
From: GUEST,PoppaGator
Date: 24 Mar 05 - 01:12 PM

Maybe the difference between the banjo and guitar markets has something to do with "GAS" (Guitar Acquisition Syndrome). Maybe banjo players are more content with one instrument than some guitar players/collectors.

On the basis of your observtions, looks like more folks may be playing banjos than buying them.


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Subject: RE: Self Taught: Fingerpicking
From: Peter T.
Date: 25 Mar 05 - 06:34 AM

Actually, it may be that there are fewer good instruction books for banjo (I have a few) than the zillion books for guitar.

The big hole in the guitar world is Volume Two!!! Getting past beginner, the books immediately become incredibly difficult or BORING!


yours,

Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Self Taught: Fingerpicking
From: GUEST
Date: 25 Mar 05 - 07:23 AM

Banjo geeks actually tend to be worse than guitar players when it comes to buying instruments - a frightening thought when you stop to realize that even a crappy banjo costs more than a good guitar.

A good percentage of the banjo students I'm meeting on the road are coming to us because we're presenting the banjo as something anybody can play. An awful lot of the old-time and bluegrass instruction focuses so much on slavish imitation that the teachers seem to forget that in peoples imagination the banjo is supposed to be fun. Most of the people I work with only want to sing a few folk songs on the front porch more than play fiddle tunes note-for-note.

I think the other thing that has slowed down our progress in the guitar market was the fact that for the past year I've been having a rough time with my guitar playing. I'm deaf in my right ear, the hearing isn't so great in my left ear and about a year ago some bozo trashed my Dobro 33-H - the one guitar I can really play by feel.

I had been making do with an older steel-body resophonic, but it just wasn't the same. After a really terrifying experience earlier this month (read about it here) I finally got my 33-H fixed and now I'm not only "back", I'm fired up about the six-string all over again.

If things keep going I'll be able to redirect the focus from banjos back to the guitar at our workshops, and that will lead to Volume Two hitting the streets.

-Patrick


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Subject: RE: Self Taught: Fingerpicking
From: catspaw49
Date: 25 Mar 05 - 07:25 AM

Ooops..........Sorry......I thought this thread was about Wendy's chili. My mistake..........

Spaw


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