5 Picking Patterns that Changed Acoustic Guitar Forever • Acoustic Tuesday 147

The 5 picking patterns that changed Acoustic guitar are huge. I mean, we’re talking revolutionary.

So, if you want to learn some epic guitar history and learn some new fingerpicking patterns, be sure to watch this week’s episode of Acoustic Tuesday. If you haven’t learned your acoustic guitar history, this will be a great crash course.

All of these picking patterns have roots in folk, country, or the blues. As we look at each one, you’ll start to see how they build off of each other. Ultimately, you’ll have a chance to see the culmination in one of the coolest picking patterns/styles.

In addition to talking about the evolution of strumming to picking and beyond, you’ll hear from Halland Guitars. A small builder in Livingston, Montana, Halland should definitely be on your list of guitar makers to check out.

Finally, I’ll be featuring a percussive fingerstyle guitarist by the name of Sean De Burca. As a frequent Acoustic Tuesday viewer, I’m excited to feature Sean this week!

As always, you can catch Acoustic Tuesday at 10 am every Tuesday.

Show Notes

The Picking Patterns…


George Shuffler introduced crosspicking to the acoustic guitar; Shuffler developed the technique as a “fill” for back-up and leads while playing with the Stanley Brothers. Among the most well-known crosspickers are Doc Watson and Clarence White, whose styles influenced other guitarists, including Tony Rice.

https://youtu.be/BTr9xudLyCY – George Shuffler chatting about Crosspicking *

https://youtu.be/64mQBqPkO88 – Molly Tuttle Crosspicking Worried Man Blues

https://youtu.be/n7eFB2b_Tmk – David Grier Crosspicking Soldier’s Joy


The chief exponents of the early country and bluegrass flatpicking styles included George Shuffler, Alton Delmore, Johnny Bond, Don Reno, and Bill Napier. The lead guitar was sparsely used, and sometimes was considered a novelty. Other instruments may also be used in flatpicking, such as the mandolin. However, banjo styles such as plectrum banjo and tunes played on tenor banjos can be played either by strumming or with a plectrum but they are not commonly known as flatpicking. This style can be typified by players such as Eddie Peabody, and has connections to ragtime and Dixieland music.

https://youtu.be/uNTWGQbgv8s – Bryan Sutton with Billy Strings Freeborn Man*

https://youtu.be/alX4xbiqMss – Clarence White

https://youtu.be/xuplqkI4WYU – Riley Puckett

Travis Picking

Travis picking derives its name from a Merle Travis. The foundation of Travis picking revolves around the combination of alternate-bass fingerpicking and syncopated melodies. This style is commonly played on steel string acoustic guitars.

Pattern picking is the use of “preset right-hand pattern[s]” while fingerpicking, with the left hand fingering standard chords.[12] The most common pattern, sometimes broadly referred to as Travis picking after Merle Travis, and popularized by Chet Atkins, Marcel Dadi, John Lennon, James Taylor,[13] John Prine, and Tommy Emmanuel.

However, Travis’s own playing was often much more complicated than this example. He often referred to his style of playing as “thumb picking”, possibly because the only pick he used when playing was a banjo thumb pick, or “Muhlenberg picking”, after his native Muhlenberg County, Kentucky, where he learned this approach to playing from Mose Rager and Ike Everly. Travis’s style did not involve a defined, alternating bass string pattern; it was more of an alternating “bass strum” pattern, resulting in an accompanying rhythm reminiscent of ragtime piano.

https://youtu.be/hS2ShTD3_8E – Merle Travis Smoke, Smoke, Smoke *

https://youtu.be/kHtwF-gpluc – Chet Atkins The Entertainer

https://youtu.be/S33tWZqXhnk – Tommy Emmanuel Classical Gas

Carter Scratch

Carter Family picking, also known as “‘thumb brush’ technique or the ‘Carter lick,’ and also the ‘church lick’ and the ‘Carter scratch’”,[9] is a style of fingerstyle guitar named for Maybelle Carter of the Carter Family’s distinctive style of rhythm guitar in which the melody is played on the bass strings, usually low E, A, and D while rhythm strumming continues above, on the treble strings, G, B, and high E. This often occurs during the break.

https://youtu.be/cc4AxM0Nxa8 – Carter Scratch w/ Courtney Marie Andrews

https://youtu.be/XE80Ed59uCY – Wildwood Flower *

Percussive Fingerstyle

“Percussive fingerstyle” is a term for a style incorporating sharp attacks on the strings, as well as hitting the strings and guitar top with the hand for percussive effect. Principally featuring, string slapping, guitar body percussion, alternate tunings and extended techniques such as; tapping and harmonics.[26] Flamenco and Blues guitarists regularly feature percussive techniques and alternate tunings, and arguably laid the foundations for playing in this way [27] Michael Hedges and Eric Roche developed and essentially pioneered percussive techniques forming a style of their own in the 1980s – 90s. Their progressive contribution played a significant roll in influencing a new wave of percussive players including Andy Mckee, Preston Reed, Jon Gomm, Mike Dawes, Chris Woods (guitarist), Don Ross, Declan Zapala, Erik Mongrain.

https://youtu.be/s6YXMu48D8k – Alexandr Misko Cold Hands

https://youtu.be/tLXBABH2JuY – Michael Hedges Aerial Boundaries

Halland Guitars

https://www.hallandguitars.com/ – Visit Halland Guitars online

https://youtu.be/yoFH1XG3D_E – Checkout the Halland build philosophy

https://youtu.be/MZveWKuCQn4 – Listen to a Halland DC-H w/ African Blackwood and European Spruce

Sean De Burca

https://seandeburca.wordpress.com/ – Visit Sean online

https://amzn.to/3crtwI6 – Buy Sean’s new album Shapeshifter

https://youtu.be/hu7_LMLxf14 – Shapeshifter

https://youtu.be/98rWlD-RQbc – Kuiper Belt

https://youtu.be/DSHRZtBVRCI – The Road So Far

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