Begining to learn flat picking (should i start now?)


#1

Hi guys, i’m about 3 months into playing rhythm guitar, with mixed fortunes, i’m a little clumsy with the chords at times and i’m not very fast with my right hand etc etc etc, however i’m delighted to have got this far (thanks to Ben). i know that learning guitar is a slow process, and i’m in no big rush now, as i can join in at he the jam, and acompany myself etc, i’m a long way from “competent” at rhythm playing and i will work at that!. but as i have a fair amount of time to practice, do you think i should start to learn some flat picking techniques, or should i plod on with the rhythm playing until i become really proficient, and then start out on the flatpicking path?.

Ron


#2

I think Carter picking, or other bass runs incorporated into rhythm playing, provides a nice middle ground between rhythm and lead playing. The style allows you to continue working on rhythm while learning to pick out individual strings.

And, if you play solo very much, it’s a handy skill to have. Single note fiddle lines just aren’t that useful when playing solo, but add some vocals and bass runs to a solid rhythm and you got something people will listen to.


#3

Good advice Larry :wink:

Ron


#4

I didn’t know it was called Carter picking. Thanks Larry. Ditto what Larry said. I think if you have already gone through Ben’s basic rhythm series, then you have a good foundation. For the past month or so, I have been working on my rhythm every time I play. It takes alot of time to get to where one can play like the really good rhythm players. For me it’s a gradual process, I don’t wake up one day and everything clicks. Things just get a bit cleaner and faster as practice time goes by.
Like I said, I think Larry’s suggestion for incorporating bass runs is a great idea. Going from strumming to picking individual notes (and back) is something that can give me problems. I would think the sooner you get used to it, the better. With Bens’s basic rhythm series, you already have some quarter note transitions. Ben has a couple “transition” series (G to C transitions) as well as the intermediate rhythm series. Some of those are kind of tough, and if it seems too difficult, you can always come back to it a bit later.
If you are really hankering to play something other than chords, then melodies that get woven into chords or harmonies are nice. One specific suggestion I recall is Ben’s lesson on “I saw the light (basic version)” It seemed pretty straight-forward and you are playing partial chords with the melody. That might be worth a look.
Have fun and good luck,


#5

You can also look up his wildwood flower tab and video. The video is from the earlier you tube days of him just starting up the site so isn’t as detailed as the current ones but that wildwood flower tab is dead on what Larry was referring to. That song is “carter picking” at its finest IMO.


#6

I agree with Larry, learning rhythm and throwing in some bass runs would be a great start. My wife has been playing rhythm guitar for years and has just recently been learning some bass runs.


#7

Ben has some good videos on rhythm guitar where he covers some bass runs. It’s a good, easy way to incorporate some flat picking into your playing . It’s very useful stuff also, and you’ll get a lot of mileage out of it. My advise is to pick one bass run and master it. Try to play it all the time. Get use to it. Once you got it under your belt, learn another. Guitar is a long game. Learn small things and play them many, many times.


#8

Thanks for the input folks, i’ve decided to keep my priority Bens rhythm “course” and i’ve printed off the carter family version of wildwood flower, i’m just itching to play a “tune” this version of w/w/flower is a good mixture of rhythm and picking. such a pity it’s in “c” (read my arthritis thread), but even that is easier now, after taking advice from some of our forum members.

Ron


#9

Some may think I am crazy, but this song really helped me with my alternate picking (which is one really important function in flat picking). I mean a guy can practice all he wants on alternate picking to notes all day long and not be making music, but to find a song that really emphasizes the alternate picking is great.

Now it’s not bluegrass but it’s a cool ass song! It is also great to get into playing some form of rhythm around playing some lead.

Hope i have helped…I worked this one out 20 years or so ago and only got good at it once I disciplined myself enough to do true alternate picking. I will throw this in every once in awhile in a jam just to make folks laugh.

He starts giving the lesson around 3:00 or so. I think this would be a great “beginner” song to work on both lead lines and rhythm. Just so happens to be the first song I ever learned to play lead to.

[video]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WlkfzMby0jQ[/video]


#10

That will be a good one to pull out when the wife yells “ALRIGHT ENOUGH WITH THE BLUEGRASS ALREADY!”

she does that when she gets in the car and my iPod is blaring Lester and Earl! LOL


#11

— Begin quote from “brumski”

Thanks for the input folks, i’ve decided to keep my priority Bens rhythm “course” and i’ve printed off the carter family version of wildwood flower, i’m just itching to play a “tune” this version of w/w/flower is a good mixture of rhythm and picking. such a pity it’s in “c” (read my arthritis thread), but even that is easier now, after taking advice from some of our forum members.

Ron

— End quote

Ron,

I hear ya on the “c” part. I had big troubles with the C chord for a long time but this song actually helped me to develop the calouse on the inside of my index finger where I hot the neck and also the muscle memory in my hand to get a good clean C chord now. Another thing that helped on this song was an even more basic version of it which can be found here

bluegrassguitar.com/index.html

Go to the study tune link on there and they break wildwood flower down really well and even give you ideas on how its played carter style as well as cross picking Doc Watson style. Cool little site!


#12

Also forgot to mention, Mother Mabel originally played that song capoed in A at the second fret from what i have seen. I have been working on it a bit more myself this weekend and doing it capoed is a lot easier than in G.