Easy Steps to Guitar Fingerpicking - Lesson 1

Happy Traum

Video One: Demystifying Alternate Thumb Style

100 Minute video, Includes music and tab pdf file
  • Code:DLHAPFP21
  • Skill Level:Near-Beginner (2)

There is probably no acoustic guitar style as popular, or as mysterious to novices, as alternate-bass fingerpicking. For many aspiring players the ability to maintain a rock-steady rhythmic pulse with their thumb while picking out off-the-beat melody notes with their fingers represents a "holy grail" of country, folk and blues playing. The beauty of this style is that you are providing both the rhythmic accompaniment and the melody notes, similar to a stride piano player's left and right hand combinations.

After four decades of teaching beginners to play this style, Happy Traum has devised this nearly foolproof method to help you develop the coordination you need to get off to a great start. The challenge for guitarists is in developing an "independent thumb" so that the rhythm, alternating between bass strings, stays constant while the fingers play syncopated melody notes on the high strings.

For most starting players, it is the coordination between these two elements- the thumb and fingers working independently of one another -- that is initially difficult. Happy trains you to "rewire your brain" so that it eventually becomes second nature. He shows you how to pick out simple melodies, playing them on the beat with the bass notes and then, once this is established, playing the trickier off-beats. At the same time you'll gain invaluable information about using finger picks, string damping, picking out melodies, Travis style picking and other important topics.

You'll start by playing a simple children's song, Skip to My Lou, to help you learn the basic concepts, and then quickly move on to folk, country and blues standards such as Spike Driver's BluesGreen, Green Rocky Road, Staggerlee, Nine Pound Hammer and Hobo's Lullaby. Each piece brings in new techniques so that by the end of this lesson you are fingerpicking some great tunes at an intermediate level, and will have the tools to play anything you want to hear in this style.

Student Review:

"I recently got the "Easy Steps To Guitar Fingerpicking" DVD, as usual I'm very impressed. The way you break everything down into very digestible bits, yet still manage to do it in a way that it doesn't become monotonous is amazing. I'm really enjoying this style of playing and I'm feeling more confident with it every day. Many thanks sir! Oh, and I absolutely love having this lesson on DVD, it is very user friendly for the instructional video watcher. Keep up the great work!" -- Russell Sawler


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