Mudcat Café message #576326 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #37885   Message #576326
Posted By: John Hardly
20-Oct-01 - 12:16 PM
Thread Name: Flat picking + two fingers. for Marion
Subject: RE: Flat picking + two fingers. for Marion

Here's my understanding of the basic finger and flatpicking categories (of which there are endless sub-sets)

1. Travis Picking—this is the formal term for a specific type of fingerstyle, pattern picking that involves not just the alternating thumb bass/rhythm but also the use of the fleshy, thumbside part of the palm to dampen those bass strings as they are sounded. The melody is generally played then with one,two or three fingers. The melody notes are undampened and sustain while the bass notes "thump" thereby giving an even broader "one-man-band" sound to the music. think "Cannonball Rag"

2. Travis style Folk – this in a less formalized version. The thumb is still generally used to play an alternating bass and the fingers still are often used to play the melody, but all the strings are left to sustain (no dampening). Also there are almost endless variety to the patterns one may use. This also may be used without specifically playing a melody line, rather as an interesting accompaniment to vocals. This style is all jangle and no funk. To call this stye "Travis Picking" to a true Travis Picker is akin to showing up at a bluegrass jam with a non-Martin guitar. Think "The Boxer"

Many of the well-disciplined guitarists on this forum play the former, more formal Travis Picking. I play the less disciplined folk style. As you probably have noticed, I (of course) am a happier man.

3. The Flatpick and fingers method—With this method you can, as I said above, alternate between the folk-style travis picking and/or strumming. A very versatile option.

4. Cross-picking—I find this to be the most difficult to master but many do it. This is playing the actual folk travis pattern with a flatpick alone. Generally, the pick on its downstroke will act as the thumb and keep the alternating bass going while on the upstroke play the melody notes (acting as the fingers would). This is obviously lightning fast pick movement and the accuracy is a real challenge as you are having to cross strings without sounding them. Also, to literally do this you can't simultaneously sound to non-adjacent strings without involving at least one finger (as above).