Guitar Playing Tricks and Tips: Travis Picking

By Julian Brink
In Oct 9, 2012
1610 Views
Guitar Playing Tricks and Tips: Travis Picking

Guitar Playing Tricks and Tips: Travis Picking

Travis Picking

Travis picking (named after the Country and Western legend Merle Travis) is a technique that involves playing a constant bass pattern with the thumb of the right hand. In order to master this technique you must get your thumb to become completely independent from the rest of the fingers on your picking hand, thus freeing up your other fingers to create rhythmic and melodic interest. Try repeating this lick (using only your thumb) to get yourself started –

e——————————————————-

B——————————————————

G——————————————————

D————–2—————–2——————-

A—-3————————————————

E———————–3——————————

p          p        p          p*

And now add in the rest of your fingers –

e———————————————————

B————————————1——————

G———————-0—————————0—

D————-2—————————-2———–

A—–3————————————————-

E——————————3————————

p        p         i        p    m     p         i*

*p  = Thumb

i   = Index

m = Middle

a  = Ring

Once that is down, try the pattern on some other open chord shapes!

Check out this clip of Kristian Mattson, “The Tallest Man on Earth”, for a modern interpretation of this style of guitar playing – Click Here

Notice how his thumb is constantly alternating between the bass notes of the chords, allowing his other fingers to play the melody.

You can try using a thumb pick as Mattson does to help the bass part stand out but it will take some getting used to. Good luck singing at the same time!

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*Has a Higher Diploma in Guitar from The Academy of Contemporary Music in London *Has played for bands such as “Kinky Robot” and “Sons of Apollo” *Has been playing guitar since the age of 10 *Also teaches bass *Has a comprehensive knowledge of music theory *Has the Guitar Hero ability of a unicellular organism *Online and Platinum Instructor

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