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Old 12-10-2021, 02:32 AM
TDW TDW is offline
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Cool (American) Fingerstyle learning recommendations

Hi all,

I've played chords (badly) on and off for years, but a few years ago I found modern fingerstyle which is sometimes referred to as American Fingerstyle. The artists I admire the most are people like:
  • James Bartholomew
  • Tommy Emanuel
  • Gabriella Quevedo
  • Sungha Jung
  • Dan C Holloway
  • Guus Dielissen

I've listed those people to show the type of fingerstyle I like as I've researched previous posts and lots of recommendations are given for alternate styles of music that I don't really like (Travis, Ragtime etc..) or older artists (apart from Chet Atkins) I admire but don't really want to learn from (Stefan Grossman as an example). I appreciate they are masters in this field, but a big part of guitar playing is staying engaged and enjoying what I'm doing and older fingerstyle just isn't for me.

I got back into playing when I came across this piece by Dan Holloway:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G_Su7XStK2A

I thought it was incredible and spent months trying to learn it. I signed up to his website and mostly focused on this piece and another called 'Ashoken Farewell' (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DvwL6bqx5XM)

I learned to play both of them ok, but as with many people, I couldn't nail the harder parts so I moved onto other pieces to keep my interest going. I've bounced between pieces since then and have found a number of half decent YouTube channels to learn from - here are some of the ones I've followed:

One of my favourite pieces ever is by Emil Ernebro who's personal rendition of 'Desperado' is simply stunning in my opinion. I'd absolutely love to be able to play like this, but I imagine it'll take thousands of hours!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L6CHwdgD3mQ

So in an attempt to get better, I started looking a bit more into the basics and wanted to understand where I could make improvements in the foundations of what I was doing. I've played for 25+ years on and off, but would it surprise you to know that I don't really know all of the chords apart from the main C,D,E,A,F,G etc...(?) Joining this forum is part of that push and I've already picked up on other threads that I need to start doing things like 'scales practice' and 'barre exercises'. I don't know what either are, but I'll be starting them immediately. I also found another guy on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/c/FeedbackGuitarAcademy) and happened across one of his inputs about timing and using the metronome which I'd recommend any beginner to watch (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QxVwHToKOig). I had no idea how important it was and it made me instantly start practising with a metronome on my pieces to see if I could play all the way through at a steady pace. I was surprised how hard I found it on a piece by Dan Holloway that I'd previously learnt. His rendition of 'Amazing Grace' is a beginner piece, but I'm still struggling to get it smooth and steady all the way through, which has made me realise I need to work on the basics and then build up starting with easier pieces until I can play more smoothly. Then I can worry about the more complex pieces.

So I'll get to the point - with everything in mind that I've mentioned above, can you recommend any other YouTube page or website that I should consider to (1) build on the basics or (2) develop from beginner pieces into intermediate and onwards?

I really don't want to start right back at the very beginning as I just lose interest quickly. I want to learn and play at the same time, recognising that I'm an amateur but not a complete beginner. I hope I've articulated it well enough and apologies for the long thread, but hopefully this helps other people with similar interests.

Thanks all

Tony
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  #2  
Old 12-10-2021, 05:57 AM
Italuke Italuke is offline
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Thank God for the Interwebs. Otherwise I wouldn't ever have learned that I must have my fingerstyle playing analyzed to determine what country it comes from. Pronto.
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Old 12-10-2021, 06:47 AM
buddyhu buddyhu is offline
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I am taking private lessons with Richard Gilewitz via Zoom. I started with him in hopes of learning songs by Leo Kottke and John Fahey, which might not be of interest to you. HOWEVER, contrary to my expectations, where he has helped me the most is on all the little details thta can make me a better player: right hand position and technique, learning how to learn and practice a piece, learning how to practice with a metronome, improving left hand technique, learning how to minimize body tension as I learn and play (which has reduced stage fright when pkaying for others), etc. So I am very much going back to the basics, the way you are describing.

If you can possibly afford to do so, I’d urge you to take some individual lessons with Richard. The individualized guidance and instruction is so valuable. For me, I need him to “catch me in the act” again and again to realize and correct the flaws in my approach, and to relearn better habits and technique.

If you can’t afford individual lessons, then check out his offerings on TrueFire…you will get some (if not most) of the content I am learning. And TrueFire doesn’t cost much.
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Old 12-10-2021, 07:27 AM
JonPR JonPR is offline
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I've never seen that referred to as "American fingerstyle". In fact, if I had to define that term myself, it would have to include the styles you say you don't like: ragtime, Travis picking and blues are thoroughly American! They define what "American fingerstyle" is! (Traditionally at least)

The style you like, I would characterize as more international, and with strong British and Celtic antecedents. Highly influential figures are Davey Graham, Bert Jansch, John Renbourn, Martin Carthy, Richard Thompson, John Martyn, Nic Jones, Dick Gaughan, Martin Simpson. Here's some examples, if they help define your direction:

Davey Graham: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XWhrx1X5lHo

Bert Jansch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sAtiofihEu0

John Renbourn: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ORrNfOlyos

Martin Carthy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tK2QK8Y6qGw

Richard Thompson: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HApy-Xoix-g

John Martyn: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LOi_wxypeGc

Nic Jones: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xd2wmO9YiIg

Dick Gaughan: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZ7oYCx6tBw

Martin Simpson: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rQELHWJTdRU

I have a few lessons on Bert Jansch's style on my youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...o3mUTKZvm59qEL
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Last edited by JonPR; 12-10-2021 at 07:50 AM.
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Old 12-10-2021, 07:37 AM
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Brent Hutto Brent Hutto is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JonPR View Post
The style you like, I would characterize as more international, and with strong British and Celtic antecedents. Highly influential figures are Davey Graham, Bert Jansch, John Renbourn, Richard Thompson, John Martyn, Nic Jones, Martin Simpson. Here's some examples, if they help define your direction:

Richard Thompson: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HApy-Xoix-g
Interestingly (to me at least) I believe on that "Beeswing" video Richard Thompson is using a flatpick plus two or three fingers in a hybrid picking style.

One of these days in the distant future I'd love to get good enough with my flatpicking to start working with fingers as well.
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Old 12-10-2021, 07:48 AM
Jamolay Jamolay is offline
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I am just a beginner, so what do I know? But I hear this concern quite a bit on guitar forums. It seems there are a lot of people who have learned guitar for a while but are hitting limits because of inadequate attention to fundamentals.

It sounds a bit like that for you and you may have some success going back to a coherent beginners course to fill in the gaps so you can then get back into the finger style with more base.

I use Justin guitar. Well set up and coherent. Yes, it will seem a bit like a step backwards, but one step back for two forward. But regardless of who you study under, I would recommend a coherent course that build from basic rather than a bunch of you tube videos.

This is just what “buddyhu” is saying that he is getting from his private lessons. That is probably a great way to go as well.
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Old 12-10-2021, 07:50 AM
erhino41 erhino41 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hutto View Post
Interestingly (to me at least) I believe on that "Beeswing" video Richard Thompson is using a flatpick plus two or three fingers in a hybrid picking style.



One of these days in the distant future I'd love to get good enough with my flatpicking to start working with fingers as well.
Practice it now. Your flat picking will improve as a result. It opens up a lot of possibilities. Having to pay close attention to getting the attack of the pick and the attack of the fingers to mesh well together will improve your touch in all areas.
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Old 12-10-2021, 07:59 AM
JonPR JonPR is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hutto View Post
Interestingly (to me at least) I believe on that "Beeswing" video Richard Thompson is using a flatpick plus two or three fingers in a hybrid picking style.
Yes, that's his usual technique.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hutto View Post
One of these days in the distant future I'd love to get good enough with my flatpicking to start working with fingers as well.
Personally, I can't see the point of hybrid picking.
I either play with a pick (strumming, or lead guitar, sometimes combined), or full fingerstyle. Hybrid picking ties up one finger to hold the pick, which I find wasteful, awkward and clumsy.

It's certainly possible to play any hybrid picking tune with normal fingerstyle. The only difference is the thumbnail naturally has a slightly different tone from a pick, and (for me anyway), the hybrid version is more difficult! Another difference would be if the tune contained a substantial amount of strumming, or fast single string alternate picking. But even then I can do that just as easily with thumb and index or middle.

The only advantage I can see of learning hybrid is if (a) you commonly switch between strummed songs, flatpicked and fingerpicked songs, and don't want to drop the pick and pick it up again; and (b) if you can't grow your thumbnail long (and strong) enough. (But then there are thumbpicks...) For me, my thumbnail is good, and switching from pick to fingers when I need to doesn't hold me up.
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Old 12-10-2021, 08:07 AM
JonPR JonPR is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamolay View Post
I am just a beginner, so what do I know? But I hear this concern quite a bit on guitar forums. It seems there are a lot of people who have learned guitar for a while but are hitting limits because of inadequate attention to fundamentals.
I agree.
Most fingerstyle players, outside of the classical tradition, teach themselves and develop their own idiosyncratic habits. Sometimes they can attain impressive virtuosity (top professional standard), but sometimes those habits hold them back.

There's a lot to be said for basic classical right-hand exercises, to develop independent finger control and precision - they benefit most non-classical styles, even the more thumb-led styles. And yes - going back to them (beginner level studies!) can work wonders. Excerpts from Giuliani's 120 studies here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9gprONkwkfk
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Old 12-10-2021, 08:12 AM
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Brent Hutto Brent Hutto is offline
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My guitar teacher sort of mix-and-matches different styles depending on what he's playing. I love the tone I get (on my best days ) with a DUDUDU flatpick pattern. But I'd like to learn the option of adding some color notes on the higher strings with my fingers while the main melody is being flatpicked.

Or something like that, it's not a subject I've thought through in much detail at this point. I just know when I used only my fingers I was frustrated because I was:

a) constantly attending to my fingernails and
b) still not satisfied with the thin and rather quiet tone I'd get

The basic flatpicking/crosspicking tone production has been much more satisfying for me. Although sometimes I miss the simplicity of just using my fingers to grab exactly the notes I want on whatever specific strings works best.

At root, I think we just have to decide on the sound we want and then work toward the technique than can create it. Presumably that's how everyone from Martin Simpson (who is a genius!) to Richard Thompson (who is Richard Thompson!!!) arrives at their own technique(s).
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Old 12-10-2021, 08:39 AM
phydaux phydaux is offline
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Fingerstyle Guitar From Scratch

Travis-Style Guitar From Scratch

both by Bruce Emery, and available from Amazon.



I know OP said he didn't like Merle Travis, but the term "Travis Picking" is broadly used to apply to all chord melody fingerpicking a la Chet Atkins, Jerry Reed, Mark Knofler, James Taylor, and Tommy Emmanuel.

Also investigate Mother Maybelle Carter and Carter Picking, which is basically upside down Travis picking where the melody is played with the thumb on the 4-5-6 strings and the fingers "scratch" the accompaniment in the 1-2-3 strings.
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Old 12-10-2021, 08:52 AM
phydaux phydaux is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JonPR View Post
I either play with a pick (strumming, or lead guitar, sometimes combined), or full fingerstyle. Hybrid picking ties up one finger to hold the pick, which I find wasteful, awkward and clumsy.
Tommy Emmanuel and Chet Atkins both compromise by using a thumb pick, transitioning effortlessly back and forth between flatpicking and finger style.
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Old 12-10-2021, 10:03 AM
TDW TDW is offline
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Some great responses and loads to think about and digest (why haven't I found this forum before now!)

The reference to American Fingerstyle actually came from this forum where I found a thread from 2009 where someone asked for similar advice. He went back and forth trying to explain the style that he was trying to learn before 2 people pointed out that the style was American Fingerstyle. The video posted was of James Bartholomew which is why I thought it was American Fingerstyle, but I'll bow to your better knowledge.

I'll start going through the suggestions and see where it takes me, but one consistent theme is to accept the fact that I have to revisit the basics despite it feeling like an initial step back. thanks again for the great advice.
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Old 12-10-2021, 10:52 AM
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Originally Posted by TDW View Post
Some great responses and loads to think about and digest (why haven't I found this forum before now!)

The reference to American Fingerstyle actually came from this forum where I found a thread from 2009 where someone asked for similar advice. He went back and forth trying to explain the style that he was trying to learn before 2 people pointed out that the style was American Fingerstyle. The video posted was of James Bartholomew which is why I thought it was American Fingerstyle, but I'll bow to your better knowledge.

I'll start going through the suggestions and see where it takes me, but one consistent theme is to accept the fact that I have to revisit the basics despite it feeling like an initial step back. thanks again for the great advice.
Hi TDW…
I think your post (first one) was informative, and this clarifies it more.

There are many great sources of fingerstyle players, and several categories (including classical).

There is NO official definition of fingerstyle, mostly just descriptions and explanations (and probably doesn't need one).

And with the internet, and sources like YouTube we can learn independently of any narrow definitions and be as flexible as we like.

I love listening to the Merle Travis, Chet Atkins, Jerry Reed style players and entertainers of the past, and I enjoy Tommy Emmanuel, Pete Huttlinger, Dave Beegle etc from the modern era.

I also have learned a lot from journey-men players who are not main-stream like Phil Keaggy, Bob Bennett, Muriel Anderson, Mark Hansen, Dave Beegle, Doug Young.

I have few apprehensions when it comes to learning from others - even if it's only one or two licks.

Glad you are exploring this…and thanks for including us to join you for the ride!




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Old 12-10-2021, 02:23 PM
tbeltrans tbeltrans is offline
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Well dang! This thread makes me proud to be an American.

Lots of good advice here, and not all of it from the proud, the American, the fingerpickers (many of whom are not American).

Interesting comments from buddyhu about Richard Gilewitz. JonPR is an endless wealth of information too. One could publish a book on fingerstyle guitar simply by collecting all his posts in many threads here.

Good thread all around.

Tony
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