Thursday, June 24, 2010

Guitar Workshop: Carter Picking Revisited

Some of our readers (and you both know who you are) may remember a piece we did for this series entitled “Gettin’ Rhythm” back in April. We introduced the style of folk rhythm called the "Carter lick." In looking back, it seemed that some of the explanation may not have been sufficiently clear, notably the right hand technique. So we've decided to take a look at that aspect of it.

Mother Maybelle Carter adapted the strumming styles of the autoharp into a pattern for guitar. Watch in the first clip as instructor Denny Sarokin plays the bass and melody notes with the thumb, and brushes the chords up & down with the fingertips. As with our previous lesson, he plays “Wildwood Flower” for an example. This lesson is available on a DVD entitled "Songwriter's Guide to Great Guitar," available from

And just in case, we have a closer look at a classic tune by Johnny Cash entitled “I Walk The Line” played both at half-speed and full-speed.

Most singer-songwriters who play guitar are not particularly great guitar players. Some of them even resort to the piano as a more "serious" instrument. Nothing against pianos (this writer has a keyboard in his living room where a piano might be), but for most performing, and to capture the "folk" ambiance of their music, the use of beginner-to-intermediate-level guitar techniques, such as is shown in this installment, is enough to get them through the evening.

That, and a song worth singing.

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