Neil has been teaching fingerstyle instrumentals since day one as a teacher (over 40 years ago). Our Intermediate Fingerpicking Package features a selection of some of his favorite and most popular songs among his students.
Lesson 1: Windy and Warm Fingerpicking Solo
John D. Loudermilk wrote this classic, with a bit of help from Chet Atkins who really popularized the tune. It has four sections with steady bass notes and very catchy melodies.
Lesson 2: Fishing Blues (Fingerpicking)
This instrumental arrangement of Fishing Blues combines the melody with a moving, or walking bass part, creating 2 independent voices. The resulting sound is almost that of a duet, but of course being played by one guitarist. The goal with this type of piece is that each voice should be as clear as if you were playing it solo. This requires and develops a high level of finger independence.
Lesson 3: Fishing Blues Guitar Lesson - Taj Mahal
Continuing with our Country Blues Series, we take a look at Fishing Blues, as done by Taj Mahal in his early days, the late 1960s. The song originated with Henry 'Ragtime Texas' Thomas in the 1920s but became a staple for some of the folk-rock-psychedelic-blues groups of the 60s like the Lovin' Spoonful and the Jefferson Airplane. It is played in Dropped D Tuning with a steady alternating bass, similar to songs by Mississippi John Hurt.
Lesson 4: Here Comes The Sun (Fingerpicking)
This lesson is Neil's instrumental fingerpicking arrangement of Here Comes The Sun. The original was played with a pick and is the subject of an upcoming lesson. This version picks out the melody using a Travis-style alternating bass pattern.
Lesson 5: Oh! Susannah
Oh! Susannah was written in the mid-19th century by Stephen Foster. This instrumental arrangement was inspired by James Taylor version on his album Sweet Baby James. It just takes the melody and adds an alternating bass pattern with a few decorations.
Lesson 6: Money’s All Gone
*Money’s All Gone*is a fiddle tune arranged for fingerstyle guitar. This arrangement is based on one done by David Laibman, who also arranged many complex ragtime pieces in the early 1970s. There are two sections, which use mostly open bass notes, meaning that many notes must be muted after playing to prevent harmonic collisions. There are also a few other percussive techniques employed.
Lesson 7: Freight Train - Elizabeth Cotten - Guitar Lesson
Freight Train may have been the first fingerpicking song I learned. Elizabeth Cotten wrote it as a young girl just after the turn of the 20th century.
Her professional career started many years later when she was working for the Seeger family and happened to pick up a guitar laying around the house.
Being self taught, she played a standard guitar left handed, using her index finger to play alternating bass notes and her thumb to pick out the syncopated melody notes, a style now known as Cotten picking.
There was an earlier lesson on Freight Train, but this one takes a couple different angles, specifically the original recording.
This lesson takes the approach of learning the melody and chord progression and combining them yourself. Then there is a look at specifically how she played it in a recording made by Mike Seeger in 1958.
Lesson 8: Shades Of Funk
Shades of Funk is one of the 1st fingerpicking pieces I learned. I have been teaching it to students for over 30 years. It is a great tune to start working on the technique of combining a melody with alternating bass notes.
Lesson 9: Alice's Restaurant - Guitar Lesson
As we approach the holiday season, we are thrilled to bring out a classic American tale; Alice's Restaurant by Arlo Guthrie. This is an example of a ragtime fingerpicking progression acting as the background for a long story. This style of talking blues is frequently credited to Arlo's dad, Woody Guthrie. The lesson goes over a slightly simplified arrangement as well as one that addresses more complex ornamentation and variation.
Lesson 10: Take A Look At That Baby - Guitar Lesson
John Fahey was the founder of his self-described style, christened American-Primitive Guitar. His sound and influence on the next generations are unmistakable. Take A Look At That Baby is one of his earliest pieces, recorded for his second album, Death Chants, Breakdowns and Military Waltzes. It is a simple, ragtime progression in the key of C and not too difficult until you work on speeding it up. It uses the basic alternating bass technique but also really needs the left hand thumb wrap (fretting the 6th string with your left thumb) to be done most accurately.