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  #1  
Old 05-15-2019, 04:01 PM
lovgren lovgren is offline
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Default Help with an acoustic style for intros and soft songs

I have a playing style in my head, but I don't know how to do it. Maybe you know the missing link I'm looking for?

My issue... For intros and soft / slow songs, simple strumming can sound boring, while picking arpeggios can sound too busy (too many notes) and thin (only one note at a time).

I want to use a flat pick to play in a style that is still "light" with some space, but not just light strumming and not just arpeggio picking. There's something I'm missing but I don't know what it is. Maybe combining strums with picking or hybrid pinches or double stops / partial chords?

Any thoughts on what I'm looking for?
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  #2  
Old 05-15-2019, 04:36 PM
stanron stanron is offline
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Have you tried combining picking single strings with strumming pairs of strings? Say you have four beats. On the first beat pick a low bass note. On the second beat strum just the middle two strings down and up. On the third beat pick a different bass note. On the fourth beat strum the first two strings down and up. You could do some hammer-ons or pull-offs on some chords to add colour.

Last edited by stanron; 05-15-2019 at 08:08 PM.
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Old 05-15-2019, 04:40 PM
DukeX DukeX is offline
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I'm no expert guitar arranger, but I don't understand your "too busy" and "thin" comments about arpeggios. Go listen to Garth Brooks "If Tomorrow Never Comes." I have applied this technique to one of my songs with great success--at least IMO.

Maybe some hybrid picking patterns would suit your piece better.
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Old 05-15-2019, 05:27 PM
lovgren lovgren is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DukeX View Post
I'm no expert guitar arranger, but I don't understand your "too busy" and "thin" comments about arpeggios. Go listen to Garth Brooks "If Tomorrow Never Comes." I have applied this technique to one of my songs with great success--at least IMO.

Maybe some hybrid picking patterns would suit your piece better.
Excellent example. I love that Garth Brooks song. In the intro he strums occasionally and lets it ring with space. And when he’s not singing he does a hammer-on embellishment. I think my issue may be knowing how to mix picking, strumming, embellishments, and space.
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Old 05-16-2019, 11:04 AM
DukeX DukeX is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lovgren View Post
Excellent example. I love that Garth Brooks song. In the intro he strums occasionally and lets it ring with space. And when he’s not singing he does a hammer-on embellishment. I think my issue may be knowing how to mix picking, strumming, embellishments, and space.
Yes, he uses a little slide at the beginning, some hammer-ons, and single strum chords to great effect...and yes, spacing.

For other Garth examples, check out the intro to "I've Got Friends in Low Places" and "The Ones the Wolves Pull Down." Each of these is different but effective, IMO.

And they are all simple. Nothing fancy.
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Old 05-16-2019, 12:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stanron View Post
Have you tried combining picking single strings with strumming pairs of strings? Say you have four beats. On the first beat pick a low bass note. On the second beat strum just the middle two strings down and up. On the third beat pick a different bass note. On the fourth beat strum the first two strings down and up. You could do some hammer-ons or pull-offs on some chords to add colour.
Similarly, your style can really make things sound nice - I think I know what you are referring to and it's a style I really like.

I do almost exclusive finger-picking. On some songs, instead of strumming or instead of single note picking, I will pick softly with two or three fingers.

The best example of this is the original recorded version of "Good Riddance" by Green Day (a song everyone knows of course).

If you listen carefully you will hear a big change between the first (opening) verse and the second verse. Most people seem to play it as just a simple strummed song but it really isn't at all. That first verse is actually played somewhat like Stanron described above. However, I play it by hitting the bass notes with my thumb and fingerpicking two high strings.

Then I switch to a simple strummed pattern on the second verse.

It's a short song and the bridge moves directly into an outro which is actually the third verse. This closing is played the same way as the intro.

Anyway, it's not a soft song but the picking of multiple strings (as an alternative to single picking and an alternative to strumming) is what you might want to try. It's a nice compromise between picking and strumming.
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Old 05-19-2019, 12:05 PM
donlyn donlyn is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lovgren View Post
I have a playing style in my head, but I don't know how to do it. Maybe you know the missing link I'm looking for?

My issue... For intros and soft / slow songs, simple strumming can sound boring, while picking arpeggios can sound too busy (too many notes) and thin (only one note at a time).

I want to use a flat pick to play in a style that is still "light" with some space, but not just light strumming and not just arpeggio picking. There's something I'm missing but I don't know what it is. Maybe combining strums with picking or hybrid pinches or double stops / partial chords?

Any thoughts on what I'm looking for?
Have you tried picking the arpeggio in a different note order?

Or maybe skipping one note, and/or adding a passing note?

How about picking a few notes of the melody, or an approximation of the melody with the same note intervals?

Don
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  #8  
Old 05-20-2019, 08:37 AM
rwmct rwmct is offline
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Does the intro to "Fire and Rain" fit in with what you want or is it in the "too thin" category? Because in that one JT is mixing it up a bit.
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  #9  
Old 05-20-2019, 10:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lovgren View Post
I have a playing style in my head, but I don't know how to do it. Maybe you know the missing link I'm looking for?

My issue... For intros and soft / slow songs, simple strumming can sound boring, while picking arpeggios can sound too busy (too many notes) and thin (only one note at a time).

I want to use a flat pick to play in a style that is still "light" with some space, but not just light strumming and not just arpeggio picking. There's something I'm missing but I don't know what it is. Maybe combining strums with picking or hybrid pinches or double stops / partial chords?

Any thoughts on what I'm looking for?
I think you're looking for finger style.
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  #10  
Old 05-20-2019, 05:56 PM
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I think TB is right. This is a demo of a style I use sometimes. I know you're trying to describe the indescribable but this lies between strumming and a busy arpeggio. I think the first three chords (to the 15 second mark) can be done with a flat pick. Sorry for the poor light. I just recorded this on a Flip camera in the ambient light of dusk coming through my window.

https://youtu.be/oeOHclxbLn0
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  #11  
Old 05-23-2019, 12:20 PM
lovgren lovgren is offline
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I just want to say thank you to everyone on this thread who jumped in to offer assistance on a subject that's difficult to describe in words.

With your help I have some styles to explore. Once I get it down, I have a feeling it will be one of my primary styles forever. My wife is an amazing vocalist - especially with ballads and bluesy stuff. I have a little work to do on this, and then hopefully I'll be able to accompany her with a little more finesse.

Thanks again, everyone.
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