In unit 3 we start a slightly new quest... Travis picking! You are now in a position to take on this very common style, made famous by Merle Travis. It's a style commonly used in folk, country, blues and so many more styles. It's all about keeping a consistent bass groove, as well as your chord and melody on top, so it's essential to taking your fingerstyle to the next level. Grab your guitars, and let's get started!
So, what is travis picking? Essentially, it's about maintaining a solid groove with your thumb that provides the bass notes. In previous units, we were very much using the thumb as and when we needed it, but now it will become the coal that your steam engine runs on!
The other key thing to note with travis picking is that we tend to use the root and 5th (and later on the 3rd) for these bass note grooves. In this example, we are using the G major chord, taking the root on the E string, and 5th on the D string. Like this:
Let's apply all of this conceptual stuff to the first part of this song. Here is the tab we'll be working through.
In this track, we are essentially doing the same thing 3 times, except that each time we add one little extra element to increase the complexity. We'll start with the level 1 loop, which is marked out in the tab found in the Guitar Tabs section.
As our main focus is the picking hand with this track, we wanted to keep the chords relatively simple, so the basic chord chart is this:
The chord shapes can be found in the Chord Boxes section.
The big change with this loop is that we are adding another element to the bass loop! Rather than moving between the root and 5th each time, we are now adding in the 3rd as well! Check this out:
Let's check out the full section, which is identical to the last, just with this extra bass note. You can find it in the Guitar Tabs section.
For the final section, we will be adding a bit of syncopation to the melody part, which essentially means we will be putting some melody notes between the bass notes, to create a more lively feel. Take a look at the tab in the Guitar Tabs section.
Let's start by drilling down on this idea of syncopation, using the first bar as an example. Remember that everything else is the same as in the previous lesson. The chords, the bass notes etc... All are exactly the same! This allows us to just focus on this one change.
Let's see if we can make this nice and visual for you!
That may have made it clearer... It also may have made it more complicated! Either way, this is the idea behind the syncopation, and something we can now start to work on!
For our final lesson of the track Thomas works with you, note by note, to try and get the song played all the way through. He kicks off at around 70BPM and starts to work up from there. Take your time at each speed level, and don't rush this process. The only last thing to think about, as you are putting this together is the natural fade out at the end, which is at the end of the tab in the Guitar Tabs section.
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