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Fingerstyle players

This is a group for fingerstyle players of all types, from Hedges disciples to Chet channelers.

Members: 965
Latest Activity: Dec 10

Discussion Forum

Finger-pickin' Nylon! 23 Replies

Started by Rob Darby. Last reply by Alan Land Dec 10.

Thumb Picks? 12 Replies

Started by Rob Darby. Last reply by Robert Williamson Apr 26.

Frail nails 16 Replies

Started by Harry Lindahl. Last reply by Daryl Shawn Apr 20.

Comment Wall


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Comment by Michael Hertz on June 21, 2009 at 4:16pm
Just joined the group, so I thought I'd say hello. I particularly enjoy playing (or trying to play) songs of John Hurt, Gary Davis, Blind Blake, Big Bill Broonzy, Dave Van Ronk, Roy Book Binder, Merle Travis, and the like. I've uploaded some of my versions to my home page, and I'd be happy to help anybody interested in learning some of them. And I'm hoping there are some folks out there who can help me learn some others, or who might like to share some variations on them.
Comment by Patrick Smith on June 20, 2009 at 7:42pm
An opportunity to hear more of my takes playing fingerstyle using alternate tunings that also use capo's and partial capos.

Happy first day of summer. Always one of my favorite days of the year, especially since I usually spend it with Joann on a beach, relaxing, gently taking in the sun and the surf.

So much to celebrate! I really want more people to hear Scattered Hearts. So many of you have shared wonderful stories about this music with me so for the day of the Summer Solstice, 6/21/09, I am offering a digital download for only $6.21. In fact you can also use this for a Father's Day present. Scattered Hearts Download

All 14 pieces of Scattered Hearts for this low price today only! Now tell all your friends. Post this on Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, or any other social media you may use. And please do not forget the best way to get in touch with your friends – email. Many many thanks for your time and attention. Enjoy your summer!
Comment by Michael Zanger on June 18, 2009 at 11:53pm
This looks to be a spirited group. I look forward to communing with you... or is it grouping?
Comment by John Heron on June 16, 2009 at 11:36am
Wow. Glad to see that I sparked some feeling. These things are important given the amount of time required to become even a mediocre fingerpicker. I started by learning from tab 30 years ago and I wish that John Black or somebody had been around to give me that advice at the time. I'm sure I'd be a (weaker reader and) better player now.

That said, my current personal process for learning a tune overall is somewhat different from what's been described here so far. Some times different things work for different people so here's my current take on it. When I learn tunes by playing along I often end up playing a static arrangement sometimes with the good bits that attracted me in the first place left out because I can't catch them. If instead I listen to the track without the guitar until I can hear the arrangement/tune in my head and only then (re)create the arrangement away from the recording then that doesn't happen quite so much. I think it's because I'm essentially improvising the tune from the start.

Then there are still the tricky bits which I often want to learn by rote because these are the very things that I can't do without careful listening or practice. Sometimes that's because there's a left hand position or right hand technique that I don't know. Other times it's because I can't quite hear what the player I'm trying to copy is doing.

Of course this approach presupposes that you can improvise a part to something you can hear. I started off by taking the recommendation of Jamey Aebersold to start with nursery rhymes and other tunes from childhood (thanks Jamey!). I'd like to move on from those kinds of tunes to playing the kind of jazz thing that Jim Hall or Joe Pass would do in a solo setting but I'm happy enough to be able to apply it to what I can play now--the sort of thing that John Hurt, Mance Lipscomb, or one of the acoustic delta players from the 20s or 30s would do in a standard tuning sans bottleneck.

As for fast/slow, I'm pretty sure that you have to practice things up to speed to learn to play them that way. The movements are often enough different to cause problems in the speeding up process. That said if the piece contains movements that are entirely new then you are probably going to have to slow them down to get it.

I still learn contemporary fingerstyle, classic ragtime and the more ornate fiddle tune arrangements from tab, tab and a video, or a teacher. My ear and brain aren't good enough to follow Rick Ruskin (never you mind those jazzers I like) for example at speed off the record. In fact, my ear isn't good enough to pick him up off the record at all without the tab. Are yours? If so, then I'll probably be willing to pay money to come see you play. Keep me in mind....
Comment by Charles Freeborn on June 16, 2009 at 11:05am
I think this thread has strayed from the original question- which is how to best learn the rhythmic nuances of fingerstyle blues, including the many syncopations, double thumb bass lines, etc.
I'm not a big fan of note for note transcriptions and renditions of what was largely improvisational music. I'd rather hear (and play) the "feel" or "vibe" of a piece while giving it a personal stamp.

As for charging ahead full speed; okay, take a crack at Blind Blakes "Blind Arthur's Breakdown" or Lonnie Johnsons "Playing with the Strings" and get back to us all in a week or so...
Comment by Grant Batson on June 16, 2009 at 9:48am
this is something that I KNOW but don't practice. Its probably why I'm always frustrated with my progress and have such difficulty recording efficiently. Its funny, as my kids learn violin, piano, drums, guitar, flute, etc...(i've got 4 very ambitious kids, who will, no doubt, soon pass me by), I'm always telling them (you know, do as i say...) to keep it very slow, focus on form/posture and hitting the notes correctly before moving on... Unfortunately, I'm a hypocrite. Thanks for the reminder.
In response to John Black, though, that is exactly how I learned at the age of 12-13, and without it I would never have learned. There is certainly merit to jumping in, too!
Comment by Stephen Verderber on June 16, 2009 at 9:16am
Donna has it right, the problem with playing new tunes "up to speed" from the start is that you will learn the tune "sloppy", and it will e ingrained in the fabric of you playing that tune. Slow it down, use a metronome to get through the harder sections. Once you learn those harder sections at a slower pace, everything will fall into place. You will be very surprised at how effective this technique is.

You must learn to walk, before you can run.
Comment by Steve Widmeyer on June 16, 2009 at 8:43am
Hey, Donna, you're right, too. What I did worked for me because (a) I'm me, and (b) I had the passion (and free time) of a subteenager to throw myself at learning guitar like a pitcher throws a fastball.
Comment by Donna Zitzelberger on June 16, 2009 at 8:23am
Hey guys, I so don’t agree with you; but we are all entitled to our opinions and as John said those who read can take it or leave it. I’ll just throw in my .02 and same thing – you can take it or leave it.

That plan works for a lot of people, but it also doesn’t work. Had a student who subscribed to that plan for over 10 years and could never play a complete song. In one lesson, I was able to show her where she was struggling and she left playing her first complete song. Like anything else, there are proven ways to learn and learn well.

I, myself, learned the way you describe and I played pretty well for a lot of years. However, I was always frustrated with certain aspects of my playing. Once I started to study with a teacher, and learned the craft well, my playing improved by leaps and bounds. The difference was improvement in my touch, my timing, and my tone. I started lessons in the late spring and continued through the summer while I took a break from the church band I played with. In the Fall after the band started up again, my fellow musicians were astounded with my playing and said – “what HAPPENED TOYOU – YOU SOUND AMAZING!

One of the greatest techniques I learned was to slow things down, detail the rough sections and then start to add measures on either side. Then use a metronome to speed it up. This saved me loads of time in learning pieces, and I was able to learn them well. It is a staple technique in the music world – you can read about it in Troy Stetina’s Rock Guitar books and Scott Tennant's Classical Guitar books. You may want to give it a try and you will see it works.

IMHO – there is nothing wrong with learning the tools of the trade and learning how to use them well. The result is a lot of satisfaction and fun in playing the instrument.

My .02,

Comment by Steve Widmeyer on June 16, 2009 at 5:26am
Way to go, John. That's how I taught myself to play when I was 11 or 12: a Mel Bay chord chart book and a song I could sing but not play. That's also how I learned to fingerpick (I must have listened to "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" by Peter, Paul and Mary about 200 times in one night, but by dawn I could fingerpick!)

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