The Woodshed

Travis picking, is there any hope?

51

I have the Paul Pigat Travis Picking and Rockabilly DVDs for sale if anyone is interested.

52

There is always hope.

Mateuscz has it right —start very simple.

And, what Deke said. Practice, boy, practice.

53

I'm glad i stumbled across this thread...

I'm in the process of learning Misrer Sandman for the last 2 weeks. I got the first verse coming along, working on the second. The chord melody part in the middle is manageable. I'm working on accuracy and speed.

But here's the thing, I'm using my own technique. Holding the pick as I normally do and using my middle and ring fingers for melody. I guess that's what others were calling hybrid. I'm self tought and I'm sure i have a lot of bad habits. In fact I'm left handed and play guitar as a right handed person would, cause that how i saw others playing guitar and never factored in that I'm left handed.

But reading this thread has inspired me to use a thumbs pick, learn the technique and do this the right way. After 5 minutes of trying i wanted to stop. But i won't. I'm going to stick with it. Practice practice practice

54

I'm glad i stumbled across this thread...

I'm in the process of learning Misrer Sandman for the last 2 weeks. I got the first verse coming along, working on the second. The chord melody part in the middle is manageable. I'm working on accuracy and speed.

But here's the thing, I'm using my own technique. Holding the pick as I normally do and using my middle and ring fingers for melody. I guess that's what others were calling hybrid. I'm self tought and I'm sure i have a lot of bad habits. In fact I'm left handed and play guitar as a right handed person would, cause that how i saw others playing guitar and never factored in that I'm left handed.

But reading this thread has inspired me to use a thumbs pick, learn the technique and do this the right way. After 5 minutes of trying i wanted to stop. But i won't. I'm going to stick with it. Practice practice practice

– Chris-O-Matic

I've heard left handed guitar players playing right handed can be advantageous to your playing. You made a good decision there.

55

Where did you find the tab for Humoresque? I can't find it anywhere.

56

Where did you find the tab for Humoresque? I can't find it anywhere.

– Enis Penvy

It's out there... here's a link to a free version> It won't print without membership, but you can at least view it and give it a go.

https://www.songsterr.com/a...

There are others, but most won't let you peek at 'em until you've signed on....

I also have a fakebook version with the melody line and a chord chart, which you can easily use to build your own tab. However, I cannot load it here (these pages don't deal well with pdf's), so PM me and I'll reply with it if you're interested.

57

Minor derail, here- This is a vid from the 1950s of Chet doing Humoresque on TV, but my curiosity was piqued by the guitar on the lap of the gentleman in the blue shirt sitting on the piano bench just behind Mr A to our right. Seems to be a rather odd shape.

Does anyone recognize it? The strings seem to be off-centre, the shape is odd, and it seems to have some extra controls....

Just curious.

Wups- add the link!

58

It's out there... here's a link to a free version> It won't print without membership, but you can at least view it and give it a go.

https://www.songsterr.com/a...

There are others, but most won't let you peek at 'em until you've signed on....

I also have a fakebook version with the melody line and a chord chart, which you can easily use to build your own tab. However, I cannot load it here (these pages don't deal well with pdf's), so PM me and I'll reply with it if you're interested.

– Kevin Frye

Kevin, I've seen a couple of different arrangements on songsterr but they're not Chet's version. MrAstro posted a video of himself playing the song on the Your Tunes section of this site and it's pretty spot on. I tried to PM MrAstro but it kicked it back.

59

That is Jackie Phelps, a great thumb style guitarist himself and I believe that is a Bigsby solid body guitar.

He was on Hee Haw with Jimmy Riddle and they did the ham bone and eefin'. Jackie plays with his thumb and one finger like Merle Travis, notice that he has a finger pick on his index finger.

Here's Jackie playing "Dill Pickle Rag"

60

Minor derail, here- This is a vid from the 1950s of Chet doing Humoresque on TV, but my curiosity was piqued by the guitar on the lap of the gentleman in the blue shirt sitting on the piano bench just behind Mr A to our right. Seems to be a rather odd shape.

Does anyone recognize it? The strings seem to be off-centre, the shape is odd, and it seems to have some extra controls....

Just curious.

Wups- add the link!

– Kevin Frye

Can't tell you what that guitar you asked about is Kevin, the lower bout controls almost remind me of a Bigbsy.

I can tell you though what the guitar the rhythm player behind him is using. It's a blond Gretsch Synchro 100. It's a non-cutaway archtop acoustic from around '41. It has a full tort binding - body, neck and headstock - with the Gretsch logo and Synchromatic beneath it done in script.

Here's a front view of it's twin, which is mine. I took this pic while the beautiful tort pickguard was with Frank who put a new multi layered binding on it for me. Knavel has or had an identical one too.

61

FWIW, I've sent out my 'dissertation' to two more fellows in the last two days. I've had positive comments from other's who have put into practice what I espouse.

62

Kevin, I've seen a couple of different arrangements on songsterr but they're not Chet's version. MrAstro posted a video of himself playing the song on the Your Tunes section of this site and it's pretty spot on. I tried to PM MrAstro but it kicked it back.

– Enis Penvy

Sorry I saw an email and in the title it said "enis penvy" so I thought it was spam and deleted it. Completely unintentional. I'm good with rhyming slang and I read between the lines so you can't blame me

To learn Travis Picking I took a few lessons from Matt Cowe in the UK and he gave me a tab for it. He's a very nice and patient person and I recommend him for some lessons.

So to learn Travis picking I started off with a few quality tabs and then took it very slowly and gradually sped it up.

Because Matt copyrighted that tab I don't feel right about giving it out but he would give you a lesson and give it to you that way I'm quite sure.

Really the song to start with doesn't really matter. It just needs to be an accurate tab. I would personally recommend Chet Atkins in Three Dimensions for some accurate tabs of various Travis tunes.

Another good strategy is to use an application like Audacity or Transcribe to slow the audio of one of Chet's actual tunes along with a tab and then you get to go slowly at say 25% speed and move up from there.

I could start Kevin (or yourself if you are the one that is interested) off on Yankee Doodle Dixie for free. I'd give you the tab, one or two free lessons and you can see how you go. That was one of the first tunes I learnt and the middle part is stock standard travis picking. You will need Skype if you don't have it.

63

One other comment about Travis Picking.

When I came from flat picking with no knowledge of fingerpicking at all, I had some preconceived notions about which fingers to use to pick with. The first couple of lessons I had I learnt the notes and even played it back for my teacher and he didn't realise I wasn't using my thumb for right notes - sometimes the thumb picks the D and even the G string! - the upper (D,G,B and high E) strings are not assigned to individual fingers necessarily I then had to unlearn that nasty habit - but it happened early on so everything was good.

It helps to know which fingers in the right hand do what and how to read the music. Some transcriptions (depending on the quality and the source) show what notes are played by the thumb via the stem direction of the notes on the staff. It's all on a treble clef and although I read music, I know it from piano and it has different rules for stem direction because the bass clef is for the left hand and the treble is for the right hand. So I had to relearn the conventions of reading music on the staff as well as the tab because it gave away important clues to how to play it that you might not automatically pick up on. Tricks for new players

64

Yeah I didn't consider the repercussions of choosing that screen name at the time. I just thought it might be good for a chuckle or two. Oh well, live and learn. I found a version of Humoresque on frettedinstrumentsnyc.com that I felt was pretty accurate after listening to the MIDI file. I downloaded the TEFview app so I could view it in TAB form. Between that, your video and Chet's video from the 50's I believe I can come up with something I'll be satisfied with. Thanks for your recommendations. I'll be sure to check out Chet Atkins in Three Dimensions.

65

By the way, what amp or amps are you using in your videos? Pretty authentic vintage Chet tone.

66

Not for me.......! total rightoff but can express myself w just thumb on picking hand. I spent time on tommy flints great book .............couldnt do it

67

Update: Firday night afrer reading this thread, i tried using a thumb pick and as i mentioned, after 5 minutes i wanted to stop. Saturday morning i tried again and it was pretty clear, the thumb pick was too tight and felt like it was cutting off the circulation... just uncomfortable. I went out with my son over to the music store a pick up a few. Then spent an hour trying it again. Good news, much more comfortable:) but the real good news is, the tone is much better. The bass notes are much clearer, cleaner.

I remember a few years ago when i got that first thumb pick, it just didn't take, left like i was walking on stilts. Felt like a step backwards in my playing. No so this time, i guess my hybrid approach has helped train the thumb a bit. So this doesn't feel awkward and it does feel that it's something i can do. It's gonna take a LOT of work to get me there, but i do feel optimistic :)

I've been practicing the technique Windsordave mentioned, moving the thumb on my lap when I'm not playing guitar, and moving it to a song I'm singing in my head.

The more daunting part is the mention of learning Mister Sandman cause it's easy. That was the song I've been trying to learn and I'm not finding it easy at all. I'll get it, it'll take time but i will get it. But i don't think it's easy... i guess you guys are for more advanced than i am. But I'm gonna keep working at it :)

Again, I'm really glad i found this thread. A BIG thank you to all who have posted their suggestions!

68

By the way, what amp or amps are you using in your videos? Pretty authentic vintage Chet tone.

– Enis Penvy

I suspect on Humoresque it was a Fender Hot Rod Deville 212 but these days I just go direct into Logic Pro and re-amp the signal.

69

here is a video of Tom Bresh playing Merle Travis style of picking. Tom is the son of Merle Travis. he gives some of the secrets of Merle's picking. it's very enjoyable.

70

That was fun to watch but......you didn't learn how to develop an independent thumb. Thom can't teach anyone how to because he never had to learn! He and the host stress the need to keep the thumb going all the time which is true and important for Travis' style but not for Chet's style. What I teach is how to develop an independent thumb and then once that's become ingrained first, you can go in either the Chet style or the Merle style. PM me if you want to learn in the shortest time possible.

71

looks like this dude has the same hybrid approach i was doinglooks like it's working out pretty well for him too!

i still like the tone on the bass strings i get from using a thumb pick. So i'm keeping at it.

72

Okay folks, once you've developed an independent thumb and decide you want to use a thumbpick, I recommend you buy several different styles - they're cheap - and experiment a lot to see what you prefer......and don't throw away the ones you reject, you may like them later as your playing improves. The wrong thumbpick can be discouraging. Have a read through this thread from a year ago. One thing to note is that many that prefer the non-flexible types don't like the length and file them a bit shorter. I prefer the yellow speed pick, the lightest/most flexible for both the flexibility as well as it gives a more percussive sound [to the bass notes] than a non-flexible style such as a large Dunlop.

A note about fingerstyle/thumbstyle playing, whether you anchor your pinky on the pickguard or not, is that muting by putting the heel of your hand on the bridge will now bring the type of bridge into your consideration from a comfort standpoint.

Once you begin actually using a guitar, only a lot of practice, with and without anchoring your pinky on the pickguard will let you decide which style suits YOU! There is no right or wrong choice here, it depends strickly on what works for you. For me, anchoring doesn't position my hand like I want so don't do this. Besides, I have the nail long for plucking chords where I want the sound of 5 strings sounding....thumb and 4 fingers.

73

How many times have i posted, "theres always hope!"?

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How many times have i posted, "theres always hope!"?

– paul pigat

I'm one week in now and yep there is hope. I'm been practicing a bit everyday and everyday it's a little bit better than the day before. The thumb pick is feeling more natural on my thumb.

Best of all of this is I'm enjoying it :)

75

Glad to hear you're making progress.

The one thing to be aware of folks, is that there's a BIG difference between DVD or online Fingerstyle Lessons and learning to develop an independent thumb.....preferably my way. If you'll notice with some of these lessons, they're designed for how to play in Merle's or Chet's style after you've developed an independent thumb, and in Thom Bresh's case, he has no idea how to develop an independent thumb because he's just always been able to do that. This is the ground work for playing Chet or Merle's style, in particular, and as several players have mentioned, they gave up trying to learn. The reason for this is quite simple to me, their musical wiring can't attempt to learn an independent thumb while simultaneously playing a guitar, even if they already play; rhythm or pattern picking....which is a whole different animal.


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