In this lesson, I want to expand your Travis picking pattern repertoire. So far, you've just learned this one pattern you used for "Leaving on a Jet Plane." And I want to make you more versatile. And so I've created a PDF that you've got a link to right down below here. And so I recommend you open that up and bring it on your screen while you watch this lesson or print it out. I also recommend posting it on your wall of your practice space. This is a great practice guide for, you know, just building your Travis picking chops.
If you look at the sheet, I call it a plethora of Travis picking patterns. You'll see that there are four patterns and there are two variations on each pattern: one for sixth string root chords and one for fifth string root chords. And you're already kind of familiar with this concept because you add two different patterns for "Leaving on a Jet Plane", right? Whenever you change to that C chord and also that like modified D chord, you had to use a different pattern. Your thumb was hitting different string than normal, starting on the fifth string instead of the sixth string. So that same idea applies to the other patterns that we're going to learn today, and we're going to skip pattern number one and go straight to pattern two here.
So let's grab an E chord, which is a sixth string root chord. And plant before you play, put your thumb on the sixth string, first finger's assigned to the third string, second finger is assigned to the second string, and then the pattern goes like this: Six, three, four, two. Six, three, four, two. And the finger assignment is thumb, pointer, thumb, middle, thumb, pointer, thumb, middle.
So let's try that together. OK, we're going to repeat it a bunch, three and four and. Six, three, four, two. Six, three, four, two. Six, three, four, two. Six, three, four, two. Six, three, four, two. Six, three, four, two. Six, three, four, two. Six, three, four, two. Six, three, four, two. Six, three, four, two.
So I recommend pausing the video now and continuing to practice this. See if you can speed it up a little bit.
Now let's try the fifth string root version of pattern two. And for this one, why don't we grab an A minor chord. And now we're going to plant. This time, put your thumb on the fifth string since that's where we're going to start. First finger and second finger are still assigned as normal. Check in with your hand positioning. Make sure you're holding a lemon, tilting your wrist, making a cross and the pattern is going to go like this: Five, three, four, two. Five, three, four, two. This A minor is going to sound a little grim.
OK, here we go. Three and four and. Five, three, four, two. Five, three, four, two. Thumb, pointer, thumb, middle. Five, three, four, two. Four more. Last one. OK, again, pause the video and see if you can play this long enough to be able to speed it up a little bit.
That last pattern--pattern two--is probably the most generic Travis picking pattern out there. I had my own reasons for using pattern number one, for "Leaving on a Jet Plane" that I'll explain in the next lesson. But it's really pattern two that you see, most often, I think. And in pretty much any Travis picking song you play, if you don't know what pattern to play, pattern number two is a good bet. But pattern 3 is really my favorite. It's a little more complex, and I think it just sounds great for a lot of songs.
So let's start with the sixth string root version again. Grab an E chord, and I want to call attention to something kind of funky about this pattern. If you look at the diagram, you'll see that there's no X above the and one. You hit the sixth string on the one and then you hit the fourth string on the two. Both those notes are played with your thumb. So the one thing I want to caution you with is when I teach this pattern to my private students, sometimes they come back to me after a week of practice and they're rushing the second note of this pattern. They don't mind that gap between the first beat and the second beat. You have to let that first beat ring twice as long as the other notes in the pattern. Now you're going to be practicing this along with me, and so I don't think there's going to be a big danger of this happening. But you know, if you just like, learn this for 10 seconds with me and then you go off and practice it on your own, you got to make sure to give that first beat-note a full beat of time before you pick the next note. And you'll know you're doing it right if your thumb is still going in this constant metronome-like rhythm. What you don't want, is this..... Something like that.
OK, so here's the pattern. Plant before you play. Thumb on the sixth string. First and second fingers as normal and the pattern goes like this: Six, four, three, six, two, four, three. Six, four, three, six, two, four, three. So let's try that together slowly. 3 and 4 and... Six, four, three, six, two, four, three. Six, rest, four, three, six, two, four, three. Six, rest, four, three, six, two, four, three. Six rest, four, three, six, two, four, three. Two more.
Good... again, pause the video and see if you can speed it up. This is what it sounds like, like normal speed. Isn't that awesome? All right. Go forth and practice.
OK, now let's do the fifth string root version. Grab an A minor chord. It's going to be the pattern. Now you're going to plant on the fifth string, of course, with your thumb. First and second fingers are planted as normal. Hold a lemon. Tilt your wrist. Make a cross. Here we go. Three and four and.... five, four, three, five, two, four, three. Five, four, three, five, two, four, three. Five, rest, four, three, five, two, four, three. Two more. OK, practice that one.
OK, we're down to the last pattern. I call this the "Dust in the Wind" pattern for obvious reasons. And it's basically pattern three, except with a pinch added to the first beat and pinch is when you pick two strings at the same time-two or more strings. So if we grab an E chord for our six string version of the pattern and we plant as normal with our thumb on the sixth string, we can pinch on the sixth and second strings by just picking with our thumb and our middle finger at the same time. And you're bringing those two digits together or toward each other anyway. That's why you call it a pinch. Just practice that for a little bit and....the challenge...you may have a challenge...of trying to get these notes to ring at about the same volume, just so just listen for that. Try to get them both to sound similar.
Then when you're ready, let's try the pattern. It goes. Pinch, four, three, six, two, four, three. Pinch, four, three, six, two, four, three. I'm saying pinch, but it's really six and two that you're doing during the pinch. And remember to mind the gap. We have that same deal that we had going on with the last pattern where that first note in this case, two notes, lasts twice as long as all the other notes for a quarter note instead of an eighth note.
OK so grab your E chord. Here we go 3 and 4 and. Pinch, rest, four, three, six, two, four, three. Pinch, rest, four, three, six, two, four, three. Pinch, rest, four, three, six, two, four, three. Pinch, rest, four, three, six, two, four, three. Let's end it here. OK, I see if you can speed that up a little bit. Go ahead and practice.
OK, home stretch. Fifth string root version of pattern four. Sounds like this. And it's really starting to sound like "Dust in the Wind". OK, grab your A minor chord. Plant with your thumb on the fifth string. Other fingers assigned as normal. Three and four and..... Pinch, rest, four, three, five, two, four, three. Pinch, rest, four, three, five, two, four, three. Pinch, rest, four, three, five, two, four, three. Pinch, rest, four, three, five, two, four, three. Last one. Good. Pause the video and practice that one until you can speed it up a little bit, and then I have some final thoughts for you before the next lesson.
OK, so we've now quadrupled the number of Travis picking patterns, you know, and this is just, you know, a little smidge of the many, many patterns that are out there. I do want to highlight, though, that, you know, in practice, most guitarists just pick a handful of Travis patterns that they like and they pretty much stick to those unless they're innovating, you know, composing interesting music or if they're playing chord melody, finger style, which we're going to touch on later in this course, then they're definitely mixing things up a lot more. But, you know, for your standard like cover song that you want to Travis pick, usually you're just going to choose out of, you know, just a small handful of patterns that you like. And so you don't really need to learn a ton of patterns in order to be a good Travis picker. The other thing I want to call attention to is, you know, you might have been wondering by now....are we ever going to assign our fingers to different strings; we've had them parked on the third and second strings so far. And I've chosen to do this because that's really where I like to pick the most and where most repetitive Travis picking pattern songs tend to have the fingers assigned. There are a variety of reasons for it. I think the guitar just sounds a little nicer there than if you have your fingers assigned. The other most obvious spot is the first and second string, so that you're.... You're picking like that.
I would call those first and second strings, the high tier. I call the one that we've been using so far--the middle tier. You can also move down to a low tier and have them assigned to the fourth and third strings. And that's happened just very rarely in Travis picking songs that I've learned. So I've just decided to go with the middle tier for this course. I find that once you get good at the middle tier, it's relatively easy to switch to another tier later on. So we'll stick with the middle tier for now.
OK you're about ready to learn your second Travis picking song. But first, I just want to show you a little bit about how to make your chord changes sound smooth when you're Travis picking, so that's coming up in the next lesson.
How's it going?
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