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What style of playing IS this? (Chet Atkins/Travis)

Discussion in 'Music to Your Ears' started by ChrisLarcombe, Sep 13, 2020.

  1. PhredE

    PhredE Tele-Afflicted

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    thesamhill --

    Indeed to what you said. I guess one of the things that always impressed me so much about Chet, was he always maintained a very broad view of guitar-ing in general, but had a healthy respect and interest for styles that we not necessarily his own. The fact he could read and play a mainstream tune in the classical realm and pull it off realistically 'well', to me, says a lot. Much respect and appreciation of the late, great Chet Atkins. ... One of my all time favorite players.

    Oh, as a PS, I don't know if this joke was included in the 'Musician's joke' thread which is up here on TDPRI somewhere... (I"m too lazy to look and I'm still working on my coffee this morning). But, many years ago he did a spot on the NPR Prairie Home Companion show. Garrison asked him to tell a short joke and Chet relayed the following:

    One day when I was young, my daddy asked me what I wanted to do when I grew up. I told him 'I think I want to be a musician'. His dad paused and then replied, 'you can't do both son'
    :D
     
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  2. ChrisLarcombe

    ChrisLarcombe Tele-Meister

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    Thank you all for the information. This is all such a great read!

    I've started a course on Truefire and it's been a lot of fun today.
    I may even post a couple updates going forward.

    Thanks again everyone!

    Feel free to keep commenting if you have thoughts you would like to share.
     
  3. PhredE

    PhredE Tele-Afflicted

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    Chris the OP, if you're up to it..

    Disclaimer: I don't come from the chicken' pickin world, and can only fake it very badly (mostly from rock in my younger days, then stage bands and later classical lessons and the rest..) Sooooo..

    One thing you might consider (just for your general right [picking] hand development) is to get a hold of the exercise text titled "Mauro Guiliani's 120 Studies for Right-Hand Development" (Don't know what it costs these days, but my copy is 20 pages and about $5USD -- it's a std thing that has been printed forever in the classical guitar realm.. Anyhoo, it is good because it gives a whole bunch of right-hand picking exercises that work your hand really well in different ways to build strength and accuracy and the correct 'touch' on the strings (generally an accurate but light touch serves most folks best).

    Where the chicken 'pickin' thing differs (and IMO, is more complicated than most right-hand classical tunes..) is that the thumb is maintaining a bass line most times, sometimes it is constant and predictable, and sometimes it is broken and interrupted at times. It is what it is. Then, the treble/melody and/or chordal structural is maintained by your other fingers Index, Middle, Annular (Ring) fingers -- and it's those, that vary greatly but really provide the context of what the song is doing. So it's always thumb > bass lines, other fingers providing melody and/or chords on top.

    Finally, you might also let your picking nails grow out just a 'tad' -- not so far that they hang up on the string when they strike it. But enough so they provide just a bit of 'catch' or traction so fleshy part of the fingertip just rolls over string. On your plucking I (Index) M (Middle) A (Annular, "Ring") fingers, practice slowly so that you find that same 'spot' (the string will lie about 1/2 way on flesh and back of nail) every time that finger plays a string. As a contrast, flamenco guitarists use almost an opposite approach: they use almost no nail, play with the fleshy fingertip and push down hard. < That approach probably won't be most suitable for what you are trying to do.
     
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  4. thesamhill

    thesamhill Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    :lol:

    When I was a teenager I pretty much always had a guitar in my hands. I also did a lot of things that made my parents want to lecture at me. They'd locate me by listening to me playing, so whenever they found me and started lecturing, I had a guitar in my hands. If the issue wasn't SUPER-serious and I didn't overuse it, I often got a laugh and a pass by quietly starting to play Alice's Restaurant in the background. They were good-humored enough that when they realized they'd been lecturing at me for 10 minutes to the tune of Alice's Restaurant, they'd crack up instead of being mad and I'd slip the punch :)
     
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  5. blowtorch

    blowtorch Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I agree with all of this except the dear prudence thing. Grab your favorite rockabilly track and go to town :cool: Way, way cooler than "beetles do shoegaze" :p
     
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  6. LOSTVENTURE

    LOSTVENTURE Tele-Afflicted

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    "Travis picking" covers a lot of ground. I think that Chet was the master, but it was Jerry McGee (Ventures) that got me interested in it. Jerry's version was a combination flat pick and finger style, which I've been working on for the last 50 years. It just so happens that it fits right in with the gospel team that I play with at church.
     
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  7. getbent

    getbent Telefied Silver Supporter

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  8. getbent

    getbent Telefied Silver Supporter

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  9. blowtorch

    blowtorch Telefied Ad Free Member

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    :lol:
    that song is more barbershop than rockabilly
    it's like if you took rockabilly and neutered it :)
     
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  10. JoesTele

    JoesTele Tele-Holic

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    No way. I tried that approach...and quit after a day. I was stupid enough to grab my favorite rock-a-billy track - "That's All Right Mama" or "Mystery Train" - and then found out I was trying to play like the greatest guitarist of them all - Scotty Moore. It was like giving a guitar to a kid who never played a guitar, then play him Hendrix's "Machine Gun" and tell the kid do that.

    John Lennon's Travis picking is the basic pattern. He rarely strayed from it (he did stray a bit in "Julia" and solo song "Look At Me"). That's why "Dear Prudence" is a great way to learn Travis picking. Believe me, trying to do what Scotty did was nuts. I am a fairly competent Travis picker...and I still can't go near what Scotty did.
     
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  11. blowtorch

    blowtorch Telefied Ad Free Member

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    You know, the crazy thing is, Scotty was trying to be Chet.

    I'm so glad he failed
     
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  12. Lawdawg

    Lawdawg Tele-Afflicted

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    Another fingerpicking great to use as a reference is John Fahey. While not nearly as polished or technically accomplished as Atkins, he delved deeper into the old blues and folk traditions. His work later expanded to include Spanish, Brazilian and Indian influences. When I want to be dazzled I listen to Atkins, when I want to be moved, I listen to Fahey.

     
  13. JRapp

    JRapp Tele-Holic

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    Merle and Joe Maphis are one thing, Chet And Jerry Reed are another.
     
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  14. davidge1

    davidge1 Friend of Leo's

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    Some of Chet Atkins' songs are easier to play than others. This would be a great one to start learning on:

     
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  15. archtop_fjk

    archtop_fjk Tele-Holic

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    I learned how to fingerpick when I was a teenager, when I under the spell of Leo Kottke (and my first real guitar I bought for myself was an Alvarez 12 string!). I started learning by repeating three and four string patterns using only my thumb and index finger on the right hand. Later on I learned to incorporate my middle finger. In subsequent years I began to use my ring finger and occasionally my pinky.

    My advice would be to start with just the right hand picking. The left hand can just hold a chord like a G or C. Once you have the pattern(s) down on the right hand (so you don't have tp think about it), then try changing chords while maintaining the right hand picking pattern.

    I would also suggest learning some classical guitar, which can take you a long way towards the ability to play bass lines and melody together. There's a book I have called "Fingerpicking J.S. Bach" which has a lot of Bach's most famous etudes and preludes in an easy to learn tab + standard notation format. It's a great resource to start learning classical guitar. Good luck!
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2020
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  16. Tele-beeb

    Tele-beeb Friend of Leo's

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    I find if I spend an hour trying to learn from the greats mentioned in this thread... I really only feel further away.
    However, it helps me get better in the obtainable stuff I play.
     
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  17. DjimiWrey

    DjimiWrey Tele-Meister

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    that was so cool
     
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  18. loopfinding

    loopfinding Tele-Afflicted

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    Yeah I was going to mention Fahey, that's what got me started on the thumb technique. Check out Elizabeth Cotten as mentioned before too. The patterns are similar to Travis and Chet's picking, except a lot of it is just octaves and melody, or the standard "Dear Prudence" finger pattern instead of alternating between the root, 5th, and inner strings with your thumb, and you don't have to worry about palm muting. So it's a little more auto pilot, they're a little easier to get started with. Check out something like the earlier (and simplier than the one posted) version of "Poor Boy Long Ways From Home" on Blind Joe Death by Fahey. Once you have that basic pattern down, the Chet stuff will come more naturally after. It's present in so many types of American music, and with a little palm muting and some slapback delay fit right in on the electric, so the "training wheels" won't be for nothing.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2020
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  19. Fireball519

    Fireball519 Tele-Meister

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    Merles thumb would strike 2 bass strings then strum. And he only used his index finger most of the time in conjunction with his thumb. Theres a video of him doing I'll See You In My Dreams where for a brief moment he used 3 fingers. Chet would alternate bass strings(e.g. 6 4 5 4) and he used multiple fingers. Jerry...cant be explained because he played so many different ways
     
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  20. Mickey

    Mickey Tele-Holic Gold Supporter

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    Clear step by step instructions from Tommy Emmanuel




    And then an introductory song to get started

     
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