Travis Picking Rhythm

by Chris Shofner

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  • The "Travis Picking Rhythm" lesson covers a unique style developed by Merle Travis. It combines an alternating bass line with a melodic rhythm or melody. Here we have a few variations on rhythm playing. The picking technique is typically to use a thumb pick to play the bass notes and the first/index finger to play the notes on top. However, I typically use a hydrid method where I hold the pick normally and use my middle finger to play the top notes. The bass notes should be palm-muted. I find the easiest way to get started is to practice just the alternating bass eighth notes and then begin to add in the top part slowly. Note that most of the rhythms are straight eighth notes with just a few sixteenths scattered in. The patterns are very repetitive so once you master a bar you can keep repeating it.

    Key: A
    Chords: A6, D6, E6
    Time Signature: 4/4
    BPM: 100

    Scales for Soloing:

    While there are no scales per se in this lesson you might try using the mixolydian mode or a Major pentatonic scale for soloing.

    A Mixolydian Mode

    A Major Pentatonic
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