Throwing in a strum with alternating-bass fingerpicking

Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by Califiddler, Nov 11, 2019.

  1. Califiddler

    Califiddler Friend of Leo's

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    I have been playing the alternating-bass style of fingerpicking (Peidmont style, Travis picking, etc.) for a long time and am very comfortable with it.

    I recently realized that some players, especially "folk" players for lack of a better term, throw in a strum every now and then along with the alternating-bass fingerpicking, especially when they are singing. Some examples are James Taylor, Tim O'Brien, and Stephen Stills (on "Helplessly Hoping" which started this whole thread).

    A couple of questions. First, how do you do the strum? I assume that you do it downwards, with the back of the index finger, or index and middle fingers, like the "brush" in clawhammer banjo?

    Second, where does the strum come in the alternating-bass pattern? If the 4 bass notes in the pattern are downbeats 1, 2, 3 and 4, does the strum replace one of the bass notes? Which one? Or does it come on one of the "ands" (upbeats)?

    Thank you!
     
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  2. dlew919

    dlew919 Poster Extraordinaire

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    As for the strum itself, yes - I do it with the back of the middle finger. The theme though is possible. Whatever is comfortable



    As for when? That’s up to you I think.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  3. teletimetx

    teletimetx Doctor of Teleocity

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    like my colleague @dlew919 , I do it as a brush downstroke with the nail of my middle finger; as you say, like the brush in clawhammer. I used that technique with clawhammer and then adopted that technique (much later) to guitar.

    when? ...sometimes on the 2 or the 4, sometimes a pickup just before the one (and a one). Check out this vid of Mr. Stills, live version of the song you mentioned. He uses it in a variety of points in the four count. Get the feel for it and you can then do it as an accent here and there.

     
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  4. Larry F

    Larry F Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    Good thread.
     
  5. Chunkocaster

    Chunkocaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    I would use the side of my thumb or my first fingers nail. Or rake up with a few fingers or strum down with several fingers using their nails. You just adapt to playing the song with fingers only and do whatever feels comfortable to get the sound you want. It happens naturally after putting in the time without much thought involved.

    I don't play bass but I play electric and acoustic, lead and rhythm with fingers only a lot of the time.

     
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2019
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  6. Chiogtr4x

    Chiogtr4x Poster Extraordinaire

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    I pretty much do the same ( I use thumbpick only, plus mainly bare finger/nail of middle finger.

    The last few years ( I think it's more comfy, relative to string location/spacing), my middle finger has replaced what I used to do with my index finger, and technique and speed have really accelerated in my old age! (have always just used thumb plus just 1 finger)

    * note Still's guitar is down a whole step - he is playing in G, but pitch is F- never knew that, as I play this tune at home often, just for practice
     
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  7. getbent

    getbent Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I do it more as a frail, like the way Lindsey Buckingham does it...

    sometimes to emphasize and sometimes to fix time.
     
  8. Junkyard Dog

    Junkyard Dog Tele-Afflicted

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    No rules, I don't think. Do whatever suits your style/technique. I often add the strum by holding my thumb and forefinger together (as if I was holding an imaginary pick).

    Again no rules, but here are some guidelines. Strum typically comes on the upbeats. Also you can do "and-a" strums, i.e. 16 notes on the upbeat. In this case I will use the fingernail on the forefinger for the "and" and my thumbnail on the "a"...using the imaginary pick holding technique I described previously.

    But do not be afraid to strum on the downbeats! One of the only original things I have ever contributed to the lexicon of guitar playing was this simple mathematical trick: when playing in 4/4, strum on every THIRD beat. For example, you are playing along on a song, and then (typically I use this for emphasis going into an instrumental break, big final chorus, etc.) play two bars of these quarter notes: STRUM-rest-rest-STRUM-rest-rest-STRUM-rest...and then come back in at the top of the next bar with normal rhythm pattern.
     
  9. Califiddler

    Califiddler Friend of Leo's

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    I'm glad to see the video with Stills tuned down a whole step. What started this thread is that I have wanted to sing this song with my daughters for years. I will sing the Stills (lead) part, my older daughter will sing the Crosby part and my younger daughter will sing the Nash part. I have been struggling with the highest notes on the lead vocal in G in standard tuning (where it is on the studio version). Had thought about tuning down a half step or whole step. This video gives me my excuse!
     
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