Which Fingerpicking Book Do I Start With?

Posted on Posted in Press, Stories, Tips from Mark, Uncategorized

Folks write to me on occasion asking which of my fingerstyle books to start with: Contemporary Travis Picking or Beyond Basics Fingerstyle Guitar. My response:

•    The Art of Contemporary Travis Picking is strictly alternating-bass (“Travis Picking”), using pretty basic chords until later in the book. It is largely about training the PICKING hand. You get two actual guitar solos amongst the 14 pieces in the book; the other 12 are accompaniments to a melody that is played/sung by a second instrument. The techniques in this book allow singer/songwriters to beautifully accompany their songs, but it also provides all the necessary groundwork for the solo guitar style of Art of Solo Fingerpicking.
•     Several years after publishing these two “Art of” books, Warner Brothers asked me to design an introductory fingerpicking book (actually a video, originally) for them. For this project I wanted a different approach from my “Art of” books, and Beyond Basics Fingerstyle Guitar is the result.
•     This title was designed to provide guitar solos from the very beginning—including melodies— so they are somewhat (but not hugely) more demanding of the fretting hand than Contemporary Travis Picking. And, there are many fingerpicking patterns other than Travis Picking patterns used in this book. Check out “Canyon Canon” on YouTube. It’s the first piece in the book. Many people have recorded themselves playing it because it makes them feel successful: soon after starting the book they can play a lovely piece of music that isn’t too taxing technically.
•     So, my suggestions to developing guitarists:
1) If your fretting hand is still in the basic stages of development, STRUM songs and practice changing chords until they are quite smooth and accurate, THEN start fingerpicking with Art of Contemporary Travis Picking;
2) If your fretting hand is under control, start with Beyond Basics. You’ll get nice sounding instrumental solos from the very beginning. You WILL get some Travis Picking in Beyond Basics: my tunes “Wheels” and “Key to the Kingdom.” Once you master that book, you can go (fairly quickly) through Art of CTP and then move onto Art of Solo Fingerpicking – a book included in 50 Greatest Guitar Books!
Addendum:  The new 30th Anniversary Edition of Art of Contemporary Travis Picking features 140+ minutes of online audio (expanded from the 72-minute CD version), making it exceedingly user friendly. It is available in two formats: book & online audio, and as a complete digital download.
•     The new 30th Anniversary Edition of Art of Solo Fingerpicking (also available in those formats) features 20 new pages, and four new instrumentals of mine—shown on YouTube—including “Cast Away,” “Easy Virtue” and “Mythos.” Beyond Basics Fingerstyle Guitar is available in book/CD format and as a DVD.
•     I hope that helps with your decision!
Mark Hanson
© Accent On Music LLC, Feb 26, 2019

 

 

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