If you have ever listened to a fingerstyle guitar performance, chances are that you have heard of Travis picking. Named after the legendary Merle Travis, Travis picking is a fingerpicking technique that involves alternating bass notes with syncopated melody notes.
Travis picking has been used by countless guitarists in various genres, including country, folk, and blues. It’s a versatile technique that can add a dynamic and rhythmic flair to your playing.
In this blog post, we will explore the basics of Travis picking, including the secret to Travis picking, exercises, and patterns, and help you start learning fingerpicking. We’ll also highlight some modern Travis picking songs and provide you with a Travis picking lesson.
What is the Secret to Travis Picking?
The secret to Travis picking lies in the alternating bass notes. In Travis picking, you use your thumb to play the bass note of a chord while your fingers pluck the melody notes.
The alternating bass note is what gives the technique its distinctive sound. By alternating between a bass note played on the downbeat and a melody note played on the upbeat, you create a driving and syncopated rhythm.
How do I Start Learning Fingerpicking?
If you’re new to fingerpicking and Travis picking, it’s essential to start with the basics. One of the easiest ways to start is by practicing a basic Travis picking pattern on the D chord.
Start by placing your fingers on the D chord. Then, use your thumb to play the fourth string, followed by your index finger playing the second string, and your middle finger playing the first string. Finally, use your ring finger to play the third string.
Practice this pattern slowly until you can play it smoothly and then gradually increase the tempo.
Travis Picking Exercises and Patterns
To master Travis picking, it’s essential to practice various exercises and patterns. Here are some Travis picking exercises and patterns you can practice:
Pattern 1: The Classic Travis Picking Pattern
- Start on the G chord and strike the low E string with your thumb.
- Immediately follow this by playing the G string with the index finger.
- On the upstroke, play the open B string with the middle finger.
- Strike the high E string with your ring finger.
Pattern 2: Pattern 1 with a Bass Run
- Start on the G chord and play the pattern 1.
- On the final high E string pluck, slide your ring finger up to the third fret to play the G note.
- Use your thumb to play the E string, then repeat the pattern.
Pattern 3: Adding Chords to the Classic Travis Picking Pattern
- Begin with pattern 1 on the G chord.
- After playing the high E string with your ring finger, move to the C chord.
- On the upstroke, play the B string with your middle finger, then play the G note with your ring finger.
- Next, use your thumb to play the A string, then go back to the G chord and repeat the pattern.
Pattern 4: Adding a Hammer-On to Pattern 1
- Play the classic Travis picking pattern (pattern 1).
- After playing the G string with your index finger, hammer on to the second fret with your middle finger.
- Continue with the pattern.
Modern Travis Picking Songs
Travis picking is a versatile technique that’s been used in numerous songs over the years. Here are some modern Travis picking songs you might want to learn:
- “Fast Car” by Tracy Chapman
- “Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac
- “Blackbird” by The Beatles
- “Dust in The Wind” by Kansas
- “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You” by Led Zeppelin
Travis Picking Lesson 1
In this Travis picking lesson, you’ll learn how to play “House of the Rising Sun” – a classic folk song. This song is ideal for beginners, as it only involves four chords and a standard Travis picking pattern.
- Begin by learning the chords: Am, C, D, and F.
- Place your fingers on the Am chord, and use the classic Travis picking pattern to play:
- The A string with your thumb
- The G string with your index finger
- The B string with your middle finger
The high E string with your ring finger
Next, move to the C chord and play the pattern again.
- Now, move to the D chord and play the same pattern.
- End with the F chord and play the pattern.
Travis Picking Patterns PDF
If you’re looking for more Travis picking patterns, you can find many resources online, including PDFs with patterns and exercises. These PDFs are helpful because they provide clear instructions and diagrams of finger placement.
What is Travis Picking Pattern for Beginners?
If you’re a beginner, the Travis picking pattern we’ve covered in this post is an excellent starting point. Once you master this pattern, you can move on to other patterns and exercises and explore the countless songs you can play using Travis picking.
Travis picking is a timeless fingerpicking technique that can add depth and rhythm to your playing. By understanding the secret to Travis picking, practicing exercises and patterns, and learning modern songs, you can master this technique and take your guitar playing to the next level. So grab your guitar, start practicing, and have fun!