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Ragtime Blues Guitar Fingerpicking

Most guitarists have heard of the style of picking known as claw-hammer, but what is it? Basically, the picking hand is held like an animal claw and the thumb and the fingers pluck the guitar strings.

This sounds simple, but it needs a little care to do it properly. Many acoustic guitar lessons show just one style for playing this very appealing style of guitar music, but there are other techniques we can explore to give our music a slightly different approach.

Lessons which focus on blues or ragtime should ideally demonstrate various picking styles and possibilities. For example, a first question is if to use finerpicks or bare fingers. (And within this choice, do we choose plastic or steel!)

If a guitarist wants to play in the old style of the first blues men, then it make sense to use the identical picking techniques. If the blues man in question used picks, then it makes sense to employ them if you want to get the same kind of sound.

It's a fact that the variations in right hand position may be quite minor, but these little differences can have quite an effect on the music coming out of your box. Mississippi John Hurt's trademark sound was a gentle rhythmic ragtime picking technique using two fingers and a strong alternating bass structure. His little finger rested solidly on the guitar sound board and appeared glued to it, which is an indication that his fingers moved independently of each other.

Quite a lot of finger pickers anchor their pinky on the sound board all or most of the time, but some don't do that, just placing the palm heel of the hand on the strings very close to the saddle. This also helps in damping the bass strings if needed.

Acoustic blues guitar lessons
need to teach all possible variations and a good basic technique is important when moving on to ragtime guitar picking.

Tips For Playing Ragtime Blues Guitar


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We should all be forever grateful for the legacy left by the original great of blues guitarists. Here's a short lesson showing a couple of simple variations on the basic Candy Man theme, as played by the legendary Reverend Gary Davis. What he did with just three chords was fascinating.



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