OK, we're almost ready to pick the guitar. We just need to train the thumb a little bit. When you play with your thumb, playing finger style, you need to pick from the lowest joint of your thumb. Notice that your thumb actually has a joint way down here at your wrist. Most people don't really think of it being there. They think of like this being the lowest joint of the thumb, but the thumb extends all the way down to here. And it's that joint you want to use when you pick with your thumb. And so try practicing this with me. Stick your thumb out to the side of your hand, and you could just kind of make a loose fist and then make circles with your thumb like this. Get used to just using that lowest joint without bending the other knuckles of the thumb like this. If you find this hard to coordinate, just keep working on it until it feels natural.
Now, let's practice using our thumb in this way. Playing an E chord, so grab an E chord and then plant your thumb on the sixth string. And your first finger (your pointer finger) on the third string and your middle finger on the second string. I call this the middle tier. And check in with your hand to see that you're following our positioning guidelines. Hold a lemon. Tilt your wrist. Make a cross. Look down at your hand and see if your thumb and your forefinger are making a cross. And then when you think you've got your hand in the right position, let's practice alternating with our thumb between the sixth and fourth strings. And we're not going to use our fingers, so you can just keep your fingers planted on the strings like this. I know I told you earlier to hover as we play, but it's kind of a special case here. We're kind of doing an exercise with just our thumb. So it's OK to plant while we play here and just start alternating between six and four. If you've got a thumbnail. You may get a sound kind of like mine. If you're just using the flesh of your thumb, it's going to be a softer sound like this. Either is fine. Keep checking in with your hand to see if you've got that lemon. You're tilting your wrist, which is the easiest to see in a mirror. Making a cross. And that your thumb is picking from the lowest joint. Keep that thumb nice and straight. So you're picking like with the side of your thumb.
OK, now let's try triple alternating the bass. This is normal alternating bass where we're alternating between two strings. You could think of it as like double alternating bass, although that makes it sound special. This is really normal alternating bass. Triple alternating bass means alternating between three strings. So instead of six and four, we're going to go six, four, five, four. Six, four, five, four. Six, four, five, four. Pick from that lowest joint.
If I'm going too fast, feel free to pause and go at your own speed. If this is on YouTube--I think I'm going to stick this on YouTube--there's actually a slow down function. If you click the cog symbol at the bottom of the video, you can choose playback speed and slow it down that way too. It's an awesome feature for musicians.
OK my fretting hand is starting to ache. Why don't we take a break here, and let's look at the tablature for what we just played. If you need a refresher on how to read tablature, I've got a great lesson on it in my Strum and Sing and 60 Days Course, it's in the lesson called How To Play a Bass Line, and it's six minutes and 40 seconds into that lesson. But if you don't need that refresher, let me at least show you what an E chord would look like if we were just strumming it. This is what it looks like in tablature. And notice that the sixth string, which is the bottom line, has a 0 on it, which means open and also the second and first strings are open up at the top. And then the three strings that we fret, the third, fourth and fifth strings, all have other numbers. Its first fret, third string, so we put a 1 there. Second, fret, fourth string, second fret, fifth string. So we have 2s on those lines. Now, when you're looking at tablature of a Travis picked song, the notes aren't going to be stacked all on top of each other. They're more spread out because we're playing them one at a time, right? And this measure here is the first exercise we did where we were doing standard alternating bass between the sixth and fourth strings. So we've got an open note on the sixth string and then a second fret note on the fourth string-back and forth. So that's the tabs for the first exercise and then the second exercise we did, where we were doing triple alternating bass now has open on the sixth string, second fret on the fourth string, second fret on the fifth string and back to second fret on the fourth string. So these tabs are played like this.
Now, I just want to highlight some things that these tabs don't show. They don't show you what fingers to pick with your picking hand. There's nothing in here that shows that you're using your thumb to pick these. And also, it's not really obvious what chord is being fretted here. So it doesn't really show you, at least in a very obvious way, what to do with your left hand. Now I'll be helping you with this throughout the course. But you know, if you're looking up, Travis picked songs online, these can be some potential challenges. You kind of have to figure out for yourself what fingers to use to pick the notes. And unless the tablature author had the courtesy of writing the chord name above the tablature to show you what chord to grab with your left hand, you may have to kind of do a little bit of detective work to figure out what chord to fret. All right, next, I want to show you how to use your picking hand fingers.
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