Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Freight Train Lessons

Does anyone have a recommendation for a site that teaches a beginner and intermediate fingerpicking lessons for Freight Train including tabs?

I’ve seen requests to BanjoBen for this, but I think he has had to much on his plate this year to accommodate this request.


Here’s a version I learned that may help.


Scotts given you great tabbed version - Though I think it would be struggle for most beginners.

The key to playing in this style is to get comfortable alternating you thumb to pick out a steady base line as your fingers find the melody notes.

It takes a long time to get used to doing this with simple open chords - Where you get a steady beat. But if you stick with it you will pick it up without too much effort.

This Homespun Tapes demo by Doc Watson may help - It’s where I started

If you google “Travis Picking” there are lots of lessons covering the foundations of this style with tabs.

I’d recommend that you stick to getting confident with your rhythm and changing between chords smoothly in this style - I’ve played this kind of thing for years and keeping the timing, drive and beat has always been the greatest struggle - I always go back to the basics - as even tunes like a “simple” version of freight train need you to have everything flowing smoothly to sound right.

You’ve probably already seen this - and he doesn’t have any tab, but Tommy outlines the very basic chords and lets you know the melody is under your fingers. Getting those fingers to co-ordinate with your thumb takes a lot of practice.

It is very enjoyable to do when you get it - so I hope you find success

Good luck


I am busy, but this song is also copyrighted so I have to work out the licensing.


That’s a shame. I really would like to take the lesson from you. However, I have found a simple introductory lesson on YouTube that has tabs. So that should get me started. Thanks for the response.


Good luck learning to Travis pick Lefty

You will get it…

It just takes practice, patience and time.

Once you’ve got it you don’t forget - also the complex Chet style chord substitutions (that you may get into later) usually piece together in a logical way - so you don’t have to relearn everything for new tunes.

The hard part is relaxing into your playing and not snatching at the melody

I often have to get my head in the right place when I play these kind of tunes

You will find it…

I always tell myself if you can hear it… you can find it.

I’ve worked a lot recently on my overall strumming rhythm and found when I came back to mix things up by playing Travis Style for a change - as I don’t practice this style too much - that once I’d got into the zone I could still do it and my groove had improved. So feel free to take breaks to work on something else and come back to it.

Keep at it and good luck!