Trouble with finger picking songs

Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by Bill Hell, Jan 26, 2016.

  1. Bill Hell

    Bill Hell Tele-Meister

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    I guess because I grew up using a pick or pick and fingers and didn't focus enough on fingerpicked only songs that I have this trouble..
    But I recently learned "Crazy on you intro" Zeppelin's "babe I'm gonna leave you" and I'm working on Dylan's "Don't think twice"
    But on all these songs I have to like drill them and them drill them and drill them some more before I can consider them halfway learned and I'm still not happy with the final product..it's like I have to play these things a thousand times seriously.
    Do any of you have the same problem with fingerpicked songs I wonder?
    If it's just a song where I can use a pick no problem I learn them pretty fast.
    But anything I have to finger pick with no pick comes as slow as molasses very frustrating.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Correction on Crazy on you intro I do use a pick& fingers hybrid approach but still it came really slow and I'm still trying to clean up the sloppy technique.
     
  2. Tony Done

    Tony Done Friend of Leo's

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    It just takes practice until it becomes instinctive, like touch typing or sight reading music. - You aren't consciously telling your finger what to do most of the time.

    I recently decided I wanted to learn Bert Jansch's version of "The first time ever...". It was really hard for weeks, because it is in DADGAD, and he used chord voicings that are completely unfamiliar to me. However it came together quite suddenly in the end, not as fluid as Bert's rendition yet, but passable. A couple of things, 1) the tabs published on the internet were hopeless, I had to trust my ears and 2) the progress was apparent a day or two after a session, not at the time I was doing it.

    So don't give up, just keep working at it, the effort will be worth it in the end. I suspect that one problem you have is that you are good at flatpicking, so the fingerpicking sounds bad by comparison. I have the same trouble in the other direction - I try to flatpick, and it sounds awful. If I was a complete beginner on guitar it would likely sound OK to me.
     
  3. Bill Hell

    Bill Hell Tele-Meister

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    Hey thanks for quick reply..Yeah I'm mostly a pick player and I've been really focusing on the hybrid approach because with out it and if you play any country whatsoever you lose a lot if you use only the pick. You lose the string slapping the fretboard sound when you hook under the strings ect.. but yeah It is frustrating.

    On the Bob Dylan song I tried to sing with it and I can see that I might even need to slow his version down on Audacity and like learn it halfspeed and slowly bring it up to speed. I have been wanting to learn Zep's "Going to California" I tried before but didn't stick with it. but It's in Drop D maybe double Drop D. I believe Man of constant sorrows in Double drop D as well..yeah those are cool tunings.

    Stephen Grossman's acoustic books look really inviting and I would love to explore the Robert Johnson type of acoustic blues.. that would be just flat out cool..
    And of course just taking Classical guitar lessons at the local community college would probably do wonders just don't have the time.
     
  4. Tony Done

    Tony Done Friend of Leo's

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    I think that hybrid picking is a terrific technique, and every plectrum player should learn to do it.:)
     
  5. Bill Hell

    Bill Hell Tele-Meister

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    Agreed.. You know hybrid picking is used a lot in those old classic rock songs as well..take those classics Cheap Tricks "I want you to want me" Or something from Thin Lizzy or Heart you will have places where you have to use a hybrid approach there's no way around it lol.. It's not used as much as in good ol honky tonk music..but yeah if you want to play hot for teacher and have it sound halfway right then you had better learn to hybrid pick. and that's a fact!
     
  6. thebowl

    thebowl Tele-Meister

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    Finger picking is definitely a matter of "muscle memorization", and there's no way to get around the need for repetition.

    That said, you might want to tackle some basic Travis-picking stuff. I'm familiar with the songs you mention, but as I type this without a guitar handy, I can't get a handle on just how complicated they are to play. I began with the most basic Travis style stuff, like Freight Train. Once you get the basic idea of your thumb doing one thing, while your other fingers do another, you can build onto this with more involved melodies, greater "separation" between the two. At least, that is what I did.
     
  7. Bill Hell

    Bill Hell Tele-Meister

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    Well I'm getting the Don't think twice down pretty good. What's hard about is this. You really have to get the fingers flying at a pretty fast clip before you can ever sing the song or play along with it. But it's a fun one to play and I think that it's important before you ever commit to learning a song that you really enjoy it because like in the case of this one you are really gonna wear it out before you ever get it under your fingers.

    Yeah I would love to learn some Travis picking..I can do it a little bit but I think if you want to sound authentic playing rockabilly then you gotta have that down cold.

    The Old black women who originally done "Freight Train" if I remember correctly had a tricky finger style not easily duplicated. I can play freight train but to learn it right you kind of need to go back and check out her original version of it I would think. It's not easy like Wildwood flower lol..
     
  8. Obsessed

    Obsessed Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I feel your frustration. I'm in the same boat. Going from pick to finger pickin'. It does feel great when you get a song down, but until that moment happens, it is very frustrating. I've been working on a Rev. Gary Davis song just because of the rhythm that differentiates from the Robert Johnson stuff that I'm learning and playing. For the life of me, I can't even get the first two measures right at all. I know quite a bit of the song now, but absolutely no bounce effect from my fingers yet. It is the first song in my life that I have considered quitting.
     
  9. LeeVegas

    LeeVegas Tele-Meister

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    Elizabeth Cotten. Hendrix played upside down like her.

     
  10. sir humphrey

    sir humphrey Friend of Leo's

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    If you keep doing it a thousand times eventually it becomes natural - just keep at it! :)
     
  11. thebowl

    thebowl Tele-Meister

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    I should probably clarify that the version of that song I learned was in Ken Perlman's excellent instruction book "Fingerstyle Guitar". I'm sure the arrangement wasn't anywhere near as complicated as Libby Cotton's version. I think it was literally the first song in the book. Highly recommended.

    Describing how to learn fingerstyle isn't complicated, which doesn't mean that actually doing so is easy. 1. Find some music that involves both a bass line and something on top. The simpler, the better. 2. Take the first bar; play it as slowly as you need, and as many times as you need, until you get to the point where you can get your thumb to do what you want it to do, at the same time the other fingers are doing what they need to do. You will probably need to do the thumb and the fingers one at a time, before you can merge them together. 3. Repeat many times. 4. Apply to other tunes!
     
  12. Bill Hell

    Bill Hell Tele-Meister

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    I was fixen to say her version quite tricky..I believe that's an antislavery song as well. Very interesting. This is the youtube lesson I choose to learn the don't think twice off of. I watched several but I liked his the best. Seems closest to what Bob is actually playing on the record.. Now all I need is a coat hanger and a blues harp lol!
     
  13. Journeyman22

    Journeyman22 Tele-Meister

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    A whole lot of repetition is the key for me. I have been working on the lead, fills and rhythm for Brooks and Dunn's "My Next Broken Heart", lesson by Ken Carlson. The speed is like the twilight zone at first! 2 months later I'm finally about 95 % there. It seems I go from plateau to plateau when you just keep practicing. Also, For me, I will need a couple more months more to really let it flow naturally. Being retired I practice up to 5 hours a day. One hour at a time, take a break for an hour or two then come back to it for another hour. It seems to work better than 5 hours all at once.
     
  14. RoscoeElegante

    RoscoeElegante Friend of Leo's

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    I've heard a lot of people who can flatpick so well, they don't need to be fingerpicking songs made for/by fingerpicking.

    I'm the other way: much better w/ fingers than pick. One thing I've noticed I've always done is (smirks be ready!) pick with a loose wrist. I rarely plant my picking hand with my pinky, but instead move around quite a bit. I don't know if that's a function of a lot of practice + modest innate talent, or just 13 years of prior-to-playing skilled booger-flicking. But practicing enough that you let yourself relax and get digi-jiggy with it can help alot, especially when the string-sequence patterns change.
     
  15. Bill Hell

    Bill Hell Tele-Meister

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    I admire your patience, Knowing that when you go to perfect a song that it might take up to two months or longer to get it down. Yeah on flat picking songs I can get them down really quick and I guess I'm just spoiled by that.

    I think I practice about the same a day if I'm not working.But I'm getting older and I do have to try to control arthritis inflammation with hot water and cold water soaks. plus isometric stretches. I ran across a good video on that I think I'll make a separate thread on all that. But yeah I'm trying to leave the Alieve alone as it runs up my blood pressure.
     
  16. historicus146

    historicus146 Tele-Holic

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    learn some banjo rolls ...
    in and outs...pinch and roll
    there are about 3 or 4 patterns that will get you very far
     
  17. Journeyman22

    Journeyman22 Tele-Meister

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    I guess I might add. I was always a flat picker myself. I only started finger picking a little over a year ago. I guess that is why it takes so long for me to get it right.
     
  18. Bill Hell

    Bill Hell Tele-Meister

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    That's great advice! I will do just that!
     
  19. transmaniacon

    transmaniacon Tele-Holic

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    although Hendrix still had the strings the usual way Elizabeth has the thinnest string up top and the thickest on the bottom.
     
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