Fred Sokolow is best known as the author of a library of instructional books and DVDs for guitar, banjo, Dobro, mandolin, lap steel and ukulele. There are currently over a hundred of his books or DVDs in print, sold all over the world. Fred has long been a well-known West Coast multi-string performer and recording artist, particularly on the acoustic music scene. The diverse musical genres covered in his books and DVDs, along with several bluegrass, jazz and rock CDs he has released, demonstrate his mastery of many musical styles. Whether he's playing Delta bottleneck blues, bluegrass or old-time banjo, 30s swing guitar or screaming rock solos, he does it with authenticity and passion.
Born in Los Angeles September 14, 1945, by the early 1960s Fred was well known in the California bluegrass scene, playing with Jody Stecher, Brantley Kearns, Sandy Rothman and Eric Thompson. Relocating to Berkeley, he toured and recorded with a hippie rock band throughout most of the 60s, the Bay Area-based Notes From the Underground (Vanguard Records). In the early 70s Fred performed with R&B, rock, country and bluegrass bands. By 1975 Fred had played with bluegrass luminaries like John Herald, Frank Wakefield and Jerry Garcia, had opened for the Dead, the Doors, B.B. King, Country Joe and the Fish and countless other acts.
Merle Travis' brilliant fingerpicking style inspired Chet Atkins and generations of country, folk, bluegrass and rock guitarists. Travis picking is a very complete use of the guitar: when you play steady, alternating bass notes with your thumb and pick melodies with your fingers you're playing lead, rhythm and bass all by yourself.
But how do you keep that thumb-bass independent so it doesn't get derailed when your fingers pick the melody? Fred makes it easy for beginners or intermediate guitarists by breaking it all down and taking each song step by step. First you learn the melody, then add the bass, then add the syncopation that makes it swing. Split screen versions of the songs with closeups of both hands will help you learn Travis style, and the booklet that comes with this video has all the tunes written in tablature and music ... it's a great introduction to fingerpicking!
Titles include Nine Pound Hammer, I Am a Pilgrim, Windy and Warm, Whispering and Mack the Knife.
Bonus tracks: Fred talks about his Songbook Series
92 minutes • Level 1/2 • Detailed tab/music PDF file on the DVD
Review: Finger picking for the proficient pick strummer. I can't imagine what the previous reviewer of this product was thinking about giving this video one star. He must be a total beginner who bought a video that was too advanced for him. That is a frustrating experience. I have ALL of Fred Sokolow's instruction videos and find him to be the most explicit and specific instructor teaching guitar in this fashion. I'd go so far as to say that none of Fred's videos are actually designed for the rank beginner, however. They're designed for intermediate to advanced to skilled players and are pretty well labeled as to their level. The video in question is designed for competent rhythm guitarists who want to learn “Travis” style fingerpicking. This is generic “Travis picking.” That is, what's called Travis picking on the street. It is not and frankly has nothing to do with the manner in which Merle Travis actually played the guitar. There are a few videos out that address his very sophisticated style of thumb and one finger guitar playing. This video is devoted to a three finger style of playing very popular among “folk” musicians of the 1960s like Joan Baez, Peter Paul and Mary, Judy Collins and many other players. This video concentrates on right hand technique. If you don't know basic chord forms you'll find yourself frustrated like the previous reviewer. Anyone who can strum “Louie, Louie” can probably learn the techniques on this video. If you can't do that however, you probably need a more basic instructional video. In that case you may want to look at Happy Traum's “Yes You Can Play Guitar” or any number of absolute beginner videos Traum has available. Sokolow's video is very well organized to do what it does: teach pick players a basic form of fingerpicking. Fred is an expert fingerstyle player and has many more comprehensive videos on fingerstyle technique. – Patrick King/Amazon Customer Review
Review: Again I can only ask what was the first reviewer thinking. I've been playing 15 years and been using Sokolow's stuff for the last year, its life changing material the man is so chilled out, it feels like a magician showing you all the secrets to various acts! I'm now using alt thumb and playing melody, it takes time but I don't play patterns and that's thanks to fred. I recommend all his material, you'll learn music theory that makes sense with tons of short cuts that work and are based on history. In this dvd he gets you picking in a fashion that is free and leaves you with the ability to concentrate on melody and forget about your alt thumb, that becomes second nature, Great series - great tuition and very laid back and relaxing. PS: I'm an electric player switching to acoustic, to play some ole timey stuff, hence purchasing this DVD. – Phillip M. Griffiths/Amazon Customer Review