Travis Picking Advanced: Welcome

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Hey y'all, today I'm delighted to be speaking with you on the subject of Travis picking. The Travis pick has roots in countless musical styles: blues, jazz, country, pop, folk, ragtime. Merle Travis is credited with originating this "finger-style" guitar, and players as diverse as Paul Simon, Doc Watson, John Lennon, Donovan and Jorma Kaukonan have taken Travis picking into innumerable musical directions from the beautifully simple to the fantastically complex.

In this tutorial we'll learn a more advanced Travis pick I call the "Full Travis". This tutorial builds on my prior tutorial, Travis Picking Simplified. I strongly recommend that you work your way through this previous tutorial before you attempt this tutorial.

Travis Picking Simplified

The beautiful thing about the Travis pick is that you control the time/rhythm and the bass via your rotating thumb, which is the technique that ties virtually every style of Travis playing together. The rotating thumb is fundamental to the Travis pick. Not only do you get 2 bass notes for every chord you play, but you get control over your down beats, 1, 2, 3, & 4.

You control the treble/top strings with your fingers. Today we'll be using a repeated pattern, but as your independence builds you will be able to play endless melodic variations with your treble strings against the steady beat of your rotating thumb.

Rhythm, Bass, harmonic content, you're a band in a box with the Travis pick!

One of the things I love about the full Travis is that it includes the use of syncopation. This is interesting for many reasons as you'll see when we go forward. It also includes the use of a technique called pinching where a bass string is plucked with the thumb while a treble string is plucked with a finger at the same time on the same beat

After a quick review of our right hand fundamentals, we'll get right down to learning our new Travis pattern. We'll start with no chords and work our way up to using the Full Travis in 3 different keys. I have an easy, extremely useful exercise for you that will get you up and running quickly. As a songwriter, performer and a teacher I have been using numerous variations of the Travis pick for many years and have developed my own specific style. Feel free to browse over to my website, there's a little jukebox on my home page and you can hear some of my picking there!

Caren Armstrong
Instructor Caren Armstrong