Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Discuss the Guitar lesson: The First Noel- Fingerstyle Guitar

https://banjobenclark.com/lessons/the-first-noel-fingerstyle-guitar-guitar-intermediate

I built this arrangement so that it’s tasty enough for any setting, in a singable key, and within reach of those who are just starting fingerstyle guitar!

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Nice Ben. I am ready to shift into Christmas music!

Carolyn has been working on her F chords a bit. The partial Fs here will probably be encouraging.

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Thanks! Yeah, I started to go with the barre chord but I wanted the arrangement attainable for more folks. This arrangement dovetails with the mando arrangement so I hope y’all can work it up!

I think playing the partial Fs will also help improve her full F chords. The full one she seems to do best is a thumb wrap with individual fingers on the B and high E. She gets that one clean, but the speed is not real fast yet and this should both be encouraging and build some muscle memory. Thanks!

I just looked at the mando as well and she should be able to get either one she chooses and I’ll fit around what she does. Thanks for hitting all the levels!

She previously learned a backing part on mando for Silent Night. Hopefully this year, we will have TWO songs. I think we should start booking holiday shows for 2030.

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This is my first real attempt at finger picking. I love this song. Problem is I am all over the place with the picking hand. I guess it is a lack of muscle memory… I am trying to resist the urge to put the banjo picks on…

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It gets easier and I bet pretty quickly. There are still 74 days before Christmas to get it dialed.

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This should be really fun. I love fingerstyle guitar and right now’s a great time to learn Christmas songs because I have plenty of time (71 days) to learn them.

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Love the arrangement. As always, the Tab is accurately written as well as artistically composed! I find the versatality of fingerstyle guitar is really amazing; does anyone agree?

My two(2) handforms:
Regarding with or without fingerpicks, I am finding this to be true: In an arpeggiated arrangement (such as this) I like using my “banjo” hand-form with an arched wrist either with picks or not, and let the strings have a sustained tone. In contrast, when playing a song requiring a ‘boom-chick-boom-chick’ bass, I find myself changing my hand-form to mute the bass strings a bit with the heel of my hand essentially eliminating my arched wrist. This pulls my hand into a little more awkward shape and is a challenge, but gives that ‘Nashville’ sound with mildly muted bass-strings. At least with me, using a thumb-pick and no fingerpicks makes damping of the bass strings a near necessity as the thumb otherwise would be too loud. I often wonder if anyone else has the same observation. Would an Instructor agree with my bi-modal hand technique? At any rate, fingerpicking is a blast! Happy picking all!

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Oh totally. You can play anything fingerstyle (or if you can’t, someone can at least)

I think I do something similar with my technique, palm muting when travis picking is standard, and arch wristing is good for other styles. But I never thought about it

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Hey Gunnar. Have you seen anywhere in this forum where it speaks to the technique of palm-muting when engagine in Chet Atkins / Travis style picking? If so, I’d be interested in better understanding the technique.

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I don’t think so, but you might try checking the discuss lesson page for any lessons marked travis picking (particularly are you washed) or search “palm muting” in the forum search function

Actually, holding my guitar now, I realized I don’t really arch my wrist at all, it stays flat and just flexes slightly to palm mute. Same with banjo except less muting, but my wrist stays straight

Looks like a doable goal for this Christmas…

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I do the same thing, @Deere_Crossing!

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What a great way to start practicing for Christmas. Very Nice arrangement. Someone always said: Less is better. Great video and instruction, plus the tabs are right on as always. Thanks

Hey Mike, - Not to pre-empt the role of instructor from Ben but… Not long ago I learned a helpful cheat in reference to making the evil F maj chord a little bit easier to play (and it applies to the partial as well as the barre version). When you go to play an F chord, tuck your elbow in towards your body. It shifts the angle of your hand ever so slightly and makes F a little easier. Of course it’s an awkward position for the rest of your guitar playing probably - and of course muscle memory, practice and strength are all elements which over time will improve barre chords and F chords - but still I think it’s a tip that helps with the F. Wonder what Ben thinks.

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Ha! Good point. I do that same trick almost unconsciously. Also you already know the trick of playing an F-chord but fretting the E-string on the first fret making that string an “F” tone. I use this technique when playing “Freight-train” and “Maybelle” in the Chet Atkins style.

Funny thing about the F-barre chord. I’ve noticed my daughter fighting with that one to get a clear tone, but the longer she works at it, the worse it gets. Suddenly it dawns on me that nobody can hold an F-barre requiring about 56-lbs of clamping-force forever! Gradually, her hand tires. BUT, with the chord formation well-learned, I find that during a song, most ‘normal’ hands can apply adequate momentary force (ie…~.0.25-sec) to have a clear sound. So at least our experience is, that once a song is learned and up to tempo, it’s not near such a problem. Works for us anyway. Happy Picking!

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I play a few fingerstyle songs that are all barre chords, my forearm hurts really quickly

I think the pinky tends to tilt the balance and hence more force required on the barre index finger. I would suggest she tries an F7 chord first (leaving out the pinky) before add the pinky for the proper Fmaj chord.

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