Lesson 1       Lesson 2       Lesson 3       Lesson 4       Lesson 5       Lesson 6       The Song

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How to Play Flatpicking Guitar

Go from zero to playing your first flatpicking guitar song!

Course Summary: This flatpicking quick start course will take you from not knowing anything about flatpicking technique all the way to playing your first song in this traditional guitar style. This course will help you understand how to properly hold a flatpick, and then use that proper grip to execute a smooth down and up stroke. You will also learn the golden rule of flatpicking, which will unlock the door to the magical flat picking world. String skipping, two essential major scales, and mixed note values will also be discussed to prepare you to learn the staple jam tune, Billy in the Lowground.

 

You’ll need the necessary tabs for each lesson. Click here to download them all at once. 

How to Hold a Guitar Pick (4 min)

Holding Your Flatpick The Right Way – How to properly hold your flatpick so that you can maximize control over your volume and tone and become an effective flatpicker.

In this lesson you will learn the 7 essential things you must do to properly hold your flatpick. These key elements will help you control your dynamic range, your tone, and leave you with a feeling of control over your flatpick as opposed to it feeling like your flatpick controls you.  Download tab for this lesson 


String Familiarity & the Down Stroke (6 min)

String Familiarity and Understanding the Down Stroke – How to use your flatpick grip essentials to perform a downstroke and familiarize yourself with the strings so you can feel confident in using your flatpick and gain awareness of string location. 

The down stroke, as simple as it sounds, is foundational when it comes to flatpicking so you will want to make sure you do it right. In this lesson you will use the downstroke so you can gain a good feel for your flatpick, practice holding it properly, and become familiar with “feeling” the strings through your pick.  Download tab for this lesson 


The Golden Rule of Flatpicking (3 min)

The Golden Rule of Flatpicking – How to apply the golden rule of flatpicking to your playing so you can become efficient with your flatpick and develop speed and autonomy

This lesson is the single most important one in this course. This lesson will cover how the flatpick’s motion interacts with tempo and time division. This lesson will allow you to become a faster player, play with more accuracy and confidence, and start to figure out tablature without ever hearing it played.  Download tab for this lesson 


Know about Tony's Acoustic Challenge?

The Open Position G Major Scale (4 min)

The Open Position G Major Scale – How to play the basic open position G major scale so that you can apply it when learning many common flatpicking tunes. 

Part of learning flatpicking songs is knowing what key they are in and what scale you should use. This lesson will help you learn one of the most common scales in all of flatpicking. This scale is one that you learn in the beginning and continue to play it for a lifetime. Plus, knowing it helps learning tunes easier as well.  Download tab for this lesson 


The open Position C Major Scale (4 min)

The open Position C Major Scale – How to play the basic open position C major scale so that you can apply it when learning many common flatpicking tunes in the key of C.

Much like lesson 4 this lesson addresses learning a scale, but this time it is a C major open position. Harnessing this scale will open up a huge door for you. After learning this scale you will be able to learn songs in the key of C much faster, and have a great feel for the scale shapes on the fretboard.  Download tab for this lesson 


String Skipping & Mixed Note Values (9 min)

String Skipping and Mixed Note Values – How to mix up note values and skip strings so that you can add rhythmic diversity and tackle any note combinations that come your way… even if the strings aren’t right next to one another.

In this lesson you will combine your scale knowledge, along with the flatpicking golden rule to cover some serious ground. You will learn to mix note values and skip strings here. These two skill alone are the lynch pin in playing diverse and interesting versions of many common tunes. Once you have this down you are ready to conquer any tune that comes your way.  Download tab for this lesson 


SONG LESSON: Billy In The Low Ground (17 min)

Billy In The Low Ground – How to use the skills you have developed in a real world setting so that you can play the classic flatpicking tune, Billy in the Low Ground.

This song is a great celebration of the skills you have just acquired. In conjunction with the C major scale, and the use of the golden rule you will learn this bluegrass jam standard. You will be called upon to play various note values and skip strings, and at the end of it all you will have a very real world useful flatpicking tune in your repertoire.   Download tab for this lesson 


Have you seen Tony's Acoustic Challenge?

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