Merle Robert Travis (November 17, – October 20, ) was an American country and "Travis Picking" is a syncopated style of guitar fingerpicking rooted in ragtime music in which alternating chords and bass notes are plucked by the  Years active‎: ‎– Popularized by country legend Merle Travis, Travis Picking usually involves the thumb alternating between two bass notes while the fingers “fill. Learn all about Travis Picking named after Merle Travis. This techniques involves using your thumb for adding crazy rhythms and bass notes.


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The technique essentially involves alternating between different thumb-picked bass notes on the lower strings while merle travis picking fingers pick out melody notes based on chord shapes on the higher strings.

FIGURE 1 illustrates the typical bass movement, as a pair of E notes, one octave apart, are alternately picked in steady eighth notes with the thumb, as the fret hand forms open E chord shape. On beat two, the thumb picks the open low E string, followed immediately merle travis picking a middle-finger pluck of the open B string.

Merle Travis - Wikipedia

The thumb and index finger then simultaneously pick the fourth and third strings, immediately followed by merle travis picking hammer-on from the open G merle travis picking to G at the first fret, creating a bluesy sound. To make things a bit easier, this article will look at the fundamental aspects of the travis picking technique.

Once you develop the basics, the rest will come together in no time! The first step in getting the hang of travis picking is making sure that you have control of your thumb.

Merle Travis

merle travis picking By itself, the thumb movement could actually be considered quite easy since it is usually just an on-beat pluck, alternating between two or three strings. Play each of the above notes with a downward stroke of the merle travis picking Got it?

As you advance your travis picking technique, some songs will require you to use a specific finger for ease of play. So, feel free to play these extra little melodies with either your index, middle or ring finger- whichever feels more comfortable.

How to Fingerpick Like Merle Travis | Guitarworld

For the first exercise, simply play the thumb- picking pattern you learnt earlier. Once you feel comfortable, use your finger to pluck the open high E-string on the second note of each bar.

It should be played at the same time as the first fretted E-note of each bar second fret, D string: His unique guitar style inspired many guitarists merle travis picking followed, most notably Chet Merle travis pickingwho first heard Travis' radio broadcasts on Cincinnati's WLW Boone County Jamboree in while living with his father in rural Georgia.

Today, his son Thom Bresh — continues playing in Travis' style on a custom-made Langejans Dualette.


Although his early tutors were among the first to use the thumbpick in guitar playing, freeing the fingers to pick melody, Travis' style, according to Chet Atkins, went on in musical directions merle travis picking dreamt about" by his predecessors.

He could shift quickly from finger-picking to flatpicking in the midst of a number by gripping his thumbpick like a flat pick.

In his hands, the guitar resembled a full band. As his son Thom Bresh puts it, on first hearing his father as a child "I thought it was just the coolest sound, because it sounded like a whole bunch of instruments coming from one guitar.

In it, I heard rhythm parts, I heard melodies, I heard chords merle travis picking all this wrapped up merle travis picking one.

Though Chet Atkins was the most prominent guitarist to be inspired by Merle Travis, the two players' styles were significantly merle travis picking.

As Atkins explained, "While I play alternate bass strings which sounds more like a stride piano style, Merle played two bass strings simultaneously on the one and three beats, producing a more exciting merle travis picking rhythm, in my opinion. It was somewhat reminiscent of the great old black players.

Toward the end of the s he signed a new contract with the Los-Angeles-based country music label CMHwhich launched one of the most prolific recording periods in his career.

The many titles that followed included new guitar solo albums, duets with Joe Maphisa blues album, and a double LP tribute to the legendary country fiddler Clayton McMichen, with whom he had played in the s. InTravis died of a heart attack at merle travis picking Tahlequah, Oklahoma home.


His body was cremated and his ashes scattered around a memorial erected to him near Drakesboro, Kentucky. A live concert album Merle Travis in Boston released by Rounder Records in documents Travis' singing and guitar work still at its peak.

A major retrospective of Travis' work and career Guitar Rags and a Too Fast Past, five CDs with an page booklet authored by Rich Kienzle, who interviewed many of Travis' contemporaries was produced by Bear Family Records inand includes much previously unreleased material.

The Country Routes label has merle travis picking several transcriptions of his radio broadcasts of the s and s. Several recent DVDs merle travis picking by Vestapol and Bear Family have collected many of his music videos and television appearances.

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