Tips & Techniques
Travis Picking vs. "Normal" Fingerstyle
Get the PDF chord sheet (2 pages)
- Support me on Patreon.com to get access to this and 200+ other PDF chord sheets I've made, plus new PDFs I make going forward (1-2 added each week).
- The cost is $3/month (one month minimum, cancel anytime). Here's a free sample if you're on the fence. Thanks for supporting me & this project!
After clicking the button and logging in to Patreon, look for the PDF attached to the bottom of the post.
Hey friends! Answering a listener question today from Patreon. The topic is Travis picking, and what makes it different from traditional fingerstyle guitar. I’ll explain the absolute basics of Travis picking, show how they’re different than “normal” fingerpicking, and we’ll look at one tab (the intro to Fleetwood Mac’s Landslide) which can be played using either style.
On the topic of Landslide in particular, this is a song I originally learned using “normal” fingerpicking, where each of my right-hand fingers was “assigned” to a string (e.g., thumb only played the 5th string for the C, G/B, and Am chords). In recent years I learned of the Travis Picking technique, where the thumb alternates between the 5th and 4th string on those same chords (for this particular riff) – and I find it’s a helpful example to look at when describing these techniques.
Here’s some video lessons I’ve made that use the “traditional” fingerstyle approach:
- True Colors (Justin Timberlake)
- Yesterday (The Beatles)
- House of the Rising Sun (The Animals)
- Lookin’ Out My Backdoor (CCR)
- The Wind (Cat Stevens)
- You’ve Got a Friend in Me (Randy Newman)
- …and many more!
And here’s some video lessons I’ve made that use the Travis picking style:
- Hello In There (John Prine)
- Clay Pigeons (John Prine)
- My Old Kentucky Home, Goodnight (John Prine)
- If I Had a Boat (Lyle Lovett)
- Sleeping on the Blacktop (Colter Wall)
- Let Him Roll (Guy Clark)
- …and many more!
PDFs are available for all lessons via the links above.
As always, I hope the explanation & demonstration is helpful! Thanks Scot for the question. If you have a question you’d like me to answer, send it in to email@example.com – I’ll see what I can do.
Thanks all! David
Enjoy my lessons? Buy me a beer!
If this and my other lessons have proven helpful to you, please consider making a one-time donation to my tip jar. Contributions of any amount help make this project possible (including the many, many hours I put into it).
Subscribe to my YouTube channel
Be sure to never miss a lesson by subscribing on YouTube. I put out 2-3 new videos every week. These include full song lessons, as well as covers, practice tips, behind-the-scenes updates. Thanks!
Recent video lessons:
📝 Print-friendly PDFs now available for all new lessons I make, including all those listed below. Get a free sample »
- G-chord finger position guide
Oct 25, 2020 • Lesson #334
- Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd
Oct 23, 2020 • Lesson #65
- Father and Son by Cat Stevens
Oct 18, 2020 • Lesson #333
- Layla by Eric Clapton (acoustic)
Oct 11, 2020 • Lesson #103
- Tennessee Whiskey by Chris Stapleton
Oct 9, 2020 • Lesson #331
- Norwegian Wood by The Beatles
Oct 4, 2020 • Lesson #169
- Sultans of Swing (chorus lick) by Dire Straits
Oct 3, 2020 • Lesson #174
- Surrender (acoustic) by Cheap Trick
Sep 27, 2020 • Lesson #330
- Ring of Fire by Johnny Cash
Sep 25, 2020 • Lesson #134
- Welcome to Paradise by Tyler Childers / Green Day
Sep 19, 2020 • Lesson #322
- Betty by Taylor Swift
Sep 17, 2020 • Lesson #321
- Rapid-fire Q&A: Up-strums, tricky rhythms, muting with your thumb, and more
Sep 13, 2020 • Lesson #329
- Old Man by Neil Young
Sep 12, 2020 • Lesson #328
- 2-finger Blues in Drop-D Tuning
Sep 6, 2020 • Lesson #163
- Learning the intro riff to "Old Man" by Neil Young
Sep 5, 2020 • Lesson #326
- Learnin' to Fly by Tom Petty
Aug 29, 2020 • Lesson #108