Fingerpickin'

kuch

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When you're playing acoustic and play "cover" songs with fingerpicking, do you try to play the "fingerpicking" sequence exactly as the original song? Or do you learn the chords and "wing it" to your own feeling/style?

Edit: I'm more of a learn/figure out the chords, wing it....
 
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Boreas

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When you're playing acoustic and play "cover" songs with fingerpicking, do you try to play the "fingerpicking" sequence exactly as the original song? Or do you learn the chords and "wing it" to your own feeling/style?
Wing it. I often start with a simple banjo roll, then try to make it a little more melodious if I get that far. My first stringed instrument was a 5-string banjo... 'Nuff said about that...:rolleyes:
 
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StoneH

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Both. I think "Stairway to Heaven" should be note-for-note . . . "4 & 20" not so much.

<Edit> There's another category . . . You can pick a version of a song like "Crazy on You - Intro", and learn it note-for-note, but Nancy Wilson never plays it the same way twice, so it doesn't matter as much (it matters to me, but I have always been that way).

And another category: Instrumental vs. vocal arrangements.
 
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Chiogtr4x

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When you're playing acoustic and play "cover" songs with fingerpicking, do you try to play the "fingerpicking" sequence exactly as the original song? Or do you learn the chords and "wing it" to your own feeling/style?

Edit: I'm more of a learn/figure out the chords, wing it....

I'm a two finger only fingerpicker.

( just the way I taught myself in the '70's)

It's always thumb ( with thumbpick) and index, or thumb with middle finger ( depends on the song, whatever is easier to play the melody)- but never all 3 fingers.
My issue ( or style, Ha!)...

( and I love to pick out the vocal melodies of fave songs, and try to play as instrumentals, along with blues picking)
... is that I really don't have ability to play the melody line on high strings and alternating 'bass' on low strings, 100%:independently!
So I kind of ping-pong between the two, trying to figure out how to always continue the melody line, even if it's naked
- just a single string ( maybe a series of double stops) playing, no bass support..

If this makes sense- always trying to smooth things out. Always tweaking.
I do seem to have a 'magic thumb' - it's like it's own hand sometimes!
 

Flaneur

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I ain't precious, about 'originality'.

If I can't play the version I like- I'll do the best I can.

Sometimes I don't really love the original, so I'll adapt it.

Sometimes I'll totally rearrange a song, to suit myself, or better reflect my feelings about it. The words aren't sacred, either.

I always play songs in keys that my voice can handle. Seems obvious but I read a lot of nonsense, about staying true to the original key.

I adapt a lot of songs into open tunings, because I like them and because I play a lot of slide.
IMG_20180227_153838561_HDR.jpg

Fingerpicks. A pain to get used to but a handy skill to have. ;)

I hardly ever do 'straight' copies, of songs. I like to add a little twist, of my own personality, to all of them.
 

String Tree

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When you're playing acoustic and play "cover" songs with fingerpicking, do you try to play the "fingerpicking" sequence exactly as the original song? Or do you learn the chords and "wing it" to your own feeling/style?

Edit: I'm more of a learn/figure out the chords, wing it....
I am a terrible Finger Picker.
I am firmly in the Fake-it camp.
 

SPUDCASTER

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The intro section of "Mama Tried" should probably be pretty close. There are other "signature" lines or sections that should be honored.

After That, wing it baby!! Make it your own.

Don't you think Jerry Reed would rather hear your take on "The Claw" than note for note his version?

I'll bet Jerry liked Jerry Donohue's "The Beak and the Claw".
 

loopfinding

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I just play whatever is appropriate.

Cotten picking stuff is very rigid, it’s pretty much always the same pattern. Fahey type stuff pretty much follows this. Except there is a lot of rubato stuff in Fahey type pieces, so you get some liberty there.

Chet/Travis type of stuff is pretty straight too, though there is some mixing up of styles sometimes with the inner voices in there for embellishments. I’m not an amazing player of this style but I can fake it if I stick to the format. You don’t need to play the melody exact, you can syncopate it if it makes it easier for you. But the thumb is fairly strict.

Ragtime for me is by the book. I don’t like interpretations that take liberty and try to make it all Travis picky. I try to mirror the score as best as possible on guitar.

Jazz, bossa nova, sambas...well yeah, anything is fair game. Lot of syncopation and that liberty is given to you as the player. If you understand the base rhythmic motifs, just wing it.
 
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oldunc

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Copying other peoples' work can be a good learning tool, but I don't see it as much of a goal.
 

Freeman Keller

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I just play whatever is appropriate.

Cotten picking stuff is very rigid, it’s pretty much always the same pattern. Fahey type stuff pretty much follows this. Except there is a lot of rubato stuff in Fahey type pieces, so you get some liberty there.

Chet/Travis type of stuff is pretty straight too, though there is some mixing up of styles sometimes with the inner voices in there for embellishments. I’m not an amazing player of this style but I can fake it if I stick to the format. You don’t need to play the melody exact, you can syncopate it if it makes it easier for you. But the thumb is fairly strict.

Ragtime for me is by the book. I don’t like interpretations that take liberty and try to make it all Travis picky. I try to mirror the score as best as possible on guitar.

Jazz, bossa nova, sambas...well yeah, anything is fair game. Lot of syncopation and that liberty is given to you as the player. If you understand the base rhythmic motifs, just wing it.

Well said and pretty much how I try to approach it. There are so many techniques that qualify as "finger picking" that its really hard to give an answer to the OP's question. Remember too that many of the songs that we finger pick were never transcribed (at least until recently) - they were handed down by ear and by playing. Trying to learn this stuff from a tab book can be a nightmare.
 
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oregomike

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When you're playing acoustic and play "cover" songs with fingerpicking, do you try to play the "fingerpicking" sequence exactly as the original song? Or do you learn the chords and "wing it" to your own feeling/style?

Edit: I'm more of a learn/figure out the chords, wing it....
It really depends. Some songs I can figure out the picking pattern pretty quickly, but other times I strum and then find the picking pattern through learning the strumming part.
 

rickthescot

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Couple years ago I bought a Stephan Grossman finger picking DVD. Did.a lot of good for me but I still struggle. However, If somebody hands me an acoustic guitar, I can entertain them.
 

Kandinskyesque

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I play 90% of songs fingerpicking and actually get quite a thrill out of adding my own bent to the sound of something that was originally played with a pick.

For example, I'm much happier with the version of the "Stray Cat Strut" solo I learned this year using my picking style than I would have been had I just learned a note for note, nuance for nuance version from the record.

I'm a solo vocal/guitar player these days and the object for me when playing covers is to try and find my own version without it sounding too similar to my own versions of other songs. I like the reaction I get sometimes when people watching don't realise they know the song until the chorus comes in.

Using all 5 fingers and limited percussive sounds has been the game changer for me over the last few years.
 

DekeDog

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Yep. Just let it come natural. Your fingers know what to do. Imho

This is me. But I have never been able to get used to finger picks, probably because I've been doing it all of my life without them. I've started playing acoustic more lately, and I'm finger picking more. Most of the time, I use a flatpick, and I will occasionally hybrid pick if I'm doing double stops or triad arps. Going back to purely finger picking takes a short while for it to all come back, but it's like riding a bike for me. I gotta say though, Travis style picking is tough, and if I could ever get it down, I think I'd have it forever.
 




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