This is a question that I am asked many times each and every week and I have some ideas and suggestions.
I am presuming you are interested in fingerstyle techniques. This covers a broad spectrum of music from blues to Celtic, ragtime to jazz. All of these musical forms are exciting and challenging. You should try your hand at each. Even if your major interest is Country Blues, an Irish air or a Scott Joplin classic rag will help you to better understand your guitar and feed you ideas and techniques for playing the blues. The more you learn, the better you will become. Just listen to John Renbourn or Duck Baker. These are guitarists who are at home with a variety of styles and techniques, each of which reinforces the others.
Your first challenge is to get to the basics. So many students miss this – instead they learn complex arrangements but forget they should be playing music! The DVD FINGERPICKING GUITAR TECHNIQUES is a good place to start. You will learn several easy arrangements using an alternating bass as well as seeing and hearing how this can develop. Even more important is the viewing of archival footage (that I include in most of my video lessons). You will see how Rev. Davis, Mance Lipscomb, Elizabeth Cotten and Lightnin’ Hopkins played. These musicians represent some of the roots of fingerstyle guitar. The DVD FINGERPICKING COUNTRY BLUES GUITAR is the follow-up lesson. This continues the discussion of playing with an alternating bass and presents ten arrangements in various keys. This lesson will help you further master the alternating bass as well as acquaint you with the fingerboard and build your right hand confidence.
Rolly Brown has an excellent double DVD lesson THE NUTS & BOLTS OF FINGERSTYLE GUITAR which is also an excellent starting point for learning how to fingerpick. His other lessons in his Nuts & Bolts Series are highly recommended.
If your interest is Merle Travis, Chet Atkins and Jerry Reed, then Buster B. Jones has two excellent lessons for the beginner: FINGERSTYLE GUITAR FROM THE GROUND UP. This presents a different approach to your right hand picking and will get you at home in the styles and techniques of these great Country fingerpickers.
At this point you are ready to “specialize”. If you are interested in country blues styles and techniques then the three part DVD series COUNTRY BLUES GUITAR, the three part HOW TO PLAY BLUES GUITAR, and the DVD COUNTRY BLUES GUITAR IN OPEN TUNINGS are good choices. These lessons focus on a wide variety of blues playing ideas some of which are not dependent on the alternating bass. Also you will see rare footage of Mississippi John Hurt, Big Bill Broonzy, Furry Lewis, Son House and others. If you are interested in bottleneck blues then I strongly recommend the DVDs BOTTLENECK BLUES GUITAR. This combines footage of some of the greatest bottleneck blues players with learning some dynamic tunes. However, don't tackle this lesson until you feel confident in your fingerpicking techniques, i.e. the alternating bass.Tom Feldmann's BOTTLENECK SLIDE GUITAR FOR BEGINNERS is a great first lesson if you are new to this technique.
If you have gotten this far then you are ready to tackle any of the lessons we offer in our catalog. Chet Atkins, Marcel Dadi, Pat Donohue, Buster B. Jones, John Renbourn, Duck Baker, John Fahey, Dave Van Ronk, Woody Mann, El McMeen, Martin Taylor have all prepared lessons that present everything from fingerstyle jazz, Celtic Airs and dances, classic ragtime, modern jazz to the playing techniques of Robert Johnson, Blind Blake, Lonnie Johnson, Mississippi John Hurt, Rev. Gary Davis, Merle Travis, Jerry Reed and others.
And don't forget our Vestapol series of videos (many of which are now available on DVD). These offer rare footage of legendary blues, jazz, folk, country and bluegrass pickers, i.e. Chet Atkins, Merle Travis, Doc Watson, Wes Montgomery, Joe Pass, Barney Kessel, Jim Hall, Big Bill Broonzy, Son House, Furry Lewis, Skip James, Howlin' Wolf and many others.
There's a lot of picking within the pages of our catalog that will keep your fingers busy for hours upon hours. Don't hesitate to drop me a line if you have any questions about our lessons. We greatly appreciate your suggestions for new DVD lessons. It is very important for our growth to have your input.
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