Finger picking - how long did it take you for it to "click"?

Discussion in 'Acoustic Heaven' started by DMeltzer, Aug 26, 2014.

  1. trev333

    trev333 Telefied Ad Free Member

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    "" just listened to the Pearl Jam tune and played along with it. It's in C and has some similar moves as other basic fingerstyle tunes based on a C chord shape, such as "Dust in the Wind" by Kansas or Fleetwood Mac's "Landslide" (which utilizes a capo). "Landslide" is a bit simpler than this Pearl Jam tune, so maybe start with something a little easier."""

    I started out just as Tim mentioned... on acoustic..

    I thought to myself... hey man!.. you should be able to finger pick by now.....why haven't I tried yet?.. mmm? how will I start...:confused:

    I know.. I'll just plant a C and use Hammer on/offs.... so I don't have to think about/watch my fretting hand.... then concentrate on those RH fingers and assign them a string/job to do.... and get a cyclic pattern going.... feeling the melody of the tune...(what you want to say)... like you would play it on a piano with one finger per key.... (I don't play keys )..

    I guess you need to build up strength in those lower two fingers you don't use much...;)

    when I got to electric... a good player just showed me the "claw".. learn to use this, he said.. that was it... I worked on it..... the thumb out and the others curled under a bit.. they just seemed to drop in the right spot when you plant your palm on the corner of the bridge.... and it all came together over a few months....

    I often hook my pinky under the E string to keep it from ringing when I don't need it ....while picking in the bass areas...

    You can do it...:)
     
  2. doc w

    doc w Tele-Afflicted

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    boredguy hits the nail on the head.

    I would add only one thing, and it is going to sound stupid, but I promise that it works. I use it on students all the time.

    Watch your thumb and try to stop looking at your left hand. The thumb is the key to making it work and if you literally STARE at your thumb while going through a simple song sloooooooowly, you will be able to train your thumb to be independent. Everything else works off and with and against the thumb. The thumb is the rhythm section and if it ain't workin', nothing else will.

    There is a good Chet Atkins beginner's book I use with students but I cannot remember the title right now. If you want the title, I will dig it up for you.
     
  3. Tim Bowen

    Tim Bowen Poster Extraordinaire

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    It is possible for players with decent facility and sense of meter to put it together in the manner you've described. Maybe some of the other posters here happened upon it in exactly this way.

    However, from a teaching perspective, what you are suggesting is the equivalent of advising someone to "just feel it", which, as experienced teachers know, is not often a recipe for success. Great if it happens, but the vast majority of folks need to have it broken down or they're not going to get it. Maybe most folks at TDPRI figure into the minority that can just sort of put it together without really breaking it down, but that's difficult to quantify.

    I was taught the method of playing - and teaching - the technique by much better players and teachers than myself, at GIT in Los Angeles in 1984. That's the same year I started teaching music on my own. I've had thirty years of success in teaching it in this manner now. It works.

    From time to time I will hear a student fingerpicking, and all the notes are there, but the overall presentation is rather flat and one dimensional; at this point I will have them isolate the bass before returning to the piece. This promotes dynamics, separation, and independence, and usually breathes life back into the song or piece.

    If a player is looking to take this beyond Travis picking, into the realm of tunes such as Jerry Reed's "Blue Finger", the bass line needs to be isolated.

    From a teaching perspective, I stand by what I said.
     
  4. Coach56

    Coach56 One of the Boys

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    I came at it from a bass players perspective as well. I was a real Byrds fan and not long ago I bought McGuinn's DVD on 12 string. In it he shows how to learn the banjo roll method he uses.

    This tied in nicely with what I knew. The thing that really opened up finger style for me was when I learned to "pluck" with my thumb and finger simultaneously, I was working on Dylan's "Not Dark Yet" when that one hit me.

    -Harry
     
  5. Larry F

    Larry F Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    I had played flatpick for a number of years, so the left hand was not a factor. I knew lots of guys who could fingerpick, so I watched them to see what they were doing. In that environment, I don't remember it taking more than a few hours to get it going.

    Here's a funny story about clicking. When I taught guitar, I often started the students with reading single note melodies. On the first lesson, I would show them the notes on the first three strings, but with no notation or names. Then I would have them play the notes in a certain order, and in a certain rhythm, using quarters and 8ths. But no terminology, just sound and movement. After playing the pattern for a few minutes, I would tell them that they are playing "Plop, plop, fizz, fizz,..." which was an Alka Seltzer commercial ditty. As soon as they knew what they were playing, it clicked. Night and day.
     
  6. TelekineticBoss

    TelekineticBoss Tele-Holic

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    This is one way of looking at it. On the other hand isn't that exactly what Tommy Emmanuel just said to do in that seminar. As with everything theres more than one way to skin this cat, but with me its kinda tricky. I have to separate it then piece it back together one part at a time. Otherwise it get so lost and mixed up that it sounds like pots and pans.
     
  7. Telepathist

    Telepathist Tele-Afflicted

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  8. Califiddler

    Califiddler Friend of Leo's

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    I learned alternating bass fingerpicking from a great teacher 30 years ago. He started me with Merle Watson's "Southbound", then a few of the easier MJH songs - "Nobody's Business but Mine", "My Creole Belle", "Spikedriver Blues", etc. We built up to John Fahey and Leo Kottke tunes.

    It's hard to remember that far back, but I think it took me about 2 months of practicing half an hour a day to get to the point where my thumb was going on autopilot and I could improvise with my fingers. Once that happens you've got it and you don't have to think about the alternating bass any more.
     
  9. A.B.Negative

    A.B.Negative Friend of Leo's

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    I had classical lessons when I was young and I got pretty good at finger picking fairly quickly (but I did practice a lot then).

    Alternating thumb took much longer but one day it all came together. :D
     
  10. strummer tele

    strummer tele Banned

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    That's fine.

    Just as long as you realize that breaking things apart can be detrimental to learning for some. Take an exaggerated example of a drum roll. Do you really want to teach the roll separately - one for right hand, one for left hand? Of course not. It has to be taught as one. It is not separate parts. I feel the same about Travis picking. Learn it as a whole. Why complicate things by breaking it into many parts?
     
  11. sir humphrey

    sir humphrey Friend of Leo's

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    I learned the same way you did, but I think there's validity in learning it the other way and I've seen that approach being used by some very good teachers.

    One of the advantages of learning the thumb parts independently is it gives a learner a much clearer understanding of the role of the bass part in fingerpicking. I've seen lots of students who learn the other way having great independence in their thumb and fingers, but struggling to keep an interesting bass line going rather than just keeping a beat on root and five.

    I think there's a lot to be said for and against both approaches.
     
  12. DavidM1

    DavidM1 Tele-Holic

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    Fingerpicking is easy but how quickly you learn to maintain a bass line depends on how much finger style you've done before.

    Ignore any advice that suggests you shouldn't know or think about what your fingers are doing.

    Start with a root note, crotchet bass line and practice adding chord tones above both on the beat and on the off beat. That's all there is to learn. When you can do that without thinking too hard you can experiment with hammering and pulling off either to the beat or the off beat. When that is humming along vary the bass line to either root fifth or root third. Done.
     
  13. trev333

    trev333 Telefied Ad Free Member

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    ""just keeping a beat on root and five.""

    that's what my thumb does .. follows the root bass of the chords.... no set alternating pattern....adding more/less bass notes as needed... E, A or D string.... as you follow the song..

    when you have drums/bass behind a tune (eventually)... your own basslines aren't that necessary for the song... just there to accent the rise and fall of root notes on the changes.... with the lower fingers carrying the melody more...

    playing solo acoustic might need a different type of thumb action.... to keep a bassline consistent..

    I'm just making noise... not trying to be a machine.... sometimes guitarists try to be too correct for rock...;)
     
  14. Mr. Lumbergh

    Mr. Lumbergh Poster Extraordinaire

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    The title of your post assumes that it has clicked...:D
     
  15. Tim Bowen

    Tim Bowen Poster Extraordinaire

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    There's learning, and there's teaching.

    As I said in my previous post, it wouldn't surprise me to find that some learned it in an all inclusive way. What would surprise me is if any of these folks were other than self starter types with a pretty good skill set and strong internal clock.

    When you do something for a long time, it's a good idea to try different approaches now and then, even if you have had good results with the methods that you use. I've attempted many times over the years to teach fingerpicking in terms of complete patterns. To cut to the chase, I've had very little success at it. Perhaps this is a reflection on myself as a teacher. I do know that when I've broken it down into components, folks just got it. You mentioned "Dear Prudence" in your previous post. I taught it (well, a consolidation of John's and George's tracks) to an eight year old girl a couple of years ago. First thing we did was learn to drop the low E down to D. The second thing we did was to work on the thumb and the bass. That little girl can play "Dear Prudence".

    Nonetheless, the fact that you were so absolutely emphatic and convicted in your previous post did indeed capture my attention. I have begun soliciting opinions on the matter. I spoke to one of my students last night, an attorney in his 40s. He likes fingerpicking and we have a few tunes together at this point. I asked him if he'd like to proceed on the next one in the way that we have thusfar (in components), or try looking at in terms of complete patterns. He said that he felt getting the bass together first was the key in getting it all to jive, and that he would prefer to move forward in this way. I also spoke to a fellow teacher that's been at it longer than myself; he owns four music schools, one of which I teach at. I asked him about his approach to Travis picking, and he said that he breaks it down into steps. The analogy "you don't hang drapes before the foundation is down" came up.

    I will continue to solicit opinions. The other guitar player at my gig tonight is a master fingerstyle player, that's what he does. I'll ask him how he got his thing together. I'll be working with a different guitar player on Saturday and Sunday who's also a really good fingerpicker. I'll ask him as well.

    I'm not a drummer and haven't the first clue as to the proper way to teach a drum roll. However I can toss mechanics out of the equation and just look at it conceptually. A drum roll, to me, is a single part. A Travis picked guitar part, to me, is a part that is the sum of two parts. Like left hand/bass clef and right hand/treble clef on a piano. Folks often refer to it as having aa distinct bass part, so it is such by default if we look at practical/typical context. To my knowledge, neither of the hands involved in a drum roll is executing such a specific and separate task.

    I know that you think that I'm trying to turn something simple into something complicated. There's absolutely no reason for me to do that. As a teacher, I'm looking for results, and that's all.
     
  16. claes

    claes Tele-Holic

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    When I was 16 I met a girl that asked me why I didn't finger pick paul simon style and showed me how. I got that style in a few months i guess and played in that style a couple of years. And i played acoustic alot so it felt naturall to do it even on a electric (and everone called me a knopler copy). SInce then i dropped the ringfinger (inspired på banjorolls). I do fingerpick my own style because it is natural to me.
     
  17. DMeltzer

    DMeltzer Tele-Meister

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    wow - thanks everyone - great advice!
     
  18. dsginzen

    dsginzen Tele-Meister

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    I've been playing 20 some years & early on wanted that big & full sound on an acoustic. Never could get it with a pick. So I started playing with it. I'm not very tight - pretty fast & loose approach to playing. Ended up going clawhammer trying to cop Neil Young. Made pretty good progress in 2-3 months maybe.

    I have scarcely used a pick in probably 10 years. Maybe more. Even electric. I seldom play just one note at a time. Usually at least "pinching" a couple. I play slower now, too. Leads are much slower than when I used a pick. I'll grab one occasionally, but it feels awkward now. Fingerpicking, I can hold down some kind of rhythm sound while playing a melodic lead. I always like when you hear a song and half think there are two guitars, but there's only one. I'm not great, but I think I can sorta pull this off. Sometimes.

    You might consider goofing with alternate tunings. Open G is good. It lets you just play & not consider what you're trying to do. The new sounds & freedom of fewer "wrong" notes could put you in a different mindset. It helped me a lot. & it's just a fun tuning.
     
  19. Wyzsard

    Wyzsard Friend of Leo's

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    here is the song mentioned

     
  20. Wyzsard

    Wyzsard Friend of Leo's

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    lessons galore on youtube as well

     
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