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Roots and Blues Fingerstyle Guitar Explorations: Rule of Thumb

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A prominent rock guitarist, on hearing Robert Johnson for the first time, supposedly said, “He’s pretty good! Who’s the other guy?” In this bit of pop folklore lies an object lesson for the aspiring fingerpicker: There is no other guy. Playing the music in this volume is predicated on the ability to sound two or more voices simultaneously, with independent movement of the picking hand’s thumb and fingers. The beat is the basic building block of the music, and it’s played here by the thumb. It follows that the ascribed function of your strongest and most articulated digit can be interpreted as law. The all-important melody, meanwhile, is picked by the other fingers on the higher strings.

 

A prominent rock guitarist, on hearing Robert Johnson for the first time, supposedly said, “He’s pretty good! Who’s the other guy?” In this bit of pop folklore lies an object lesson for the aspiring fingerpicker: There is no other guy. Playing the music in this volume is predicated on the ability to sound two or more voices simultaneously, with independent movement of the picking hand’s thumb and fingers. The beat is the basic building block of the music, and it’s played here by the thumb. It follows that the ascribed function of your strongest and most articulated digit can be interpreted as law. The all-important melody, meanwhile, is picked by the other fingers on the higher strings.